President Donald Trump is “very close” to announcing his new pick for FBI director — and the man he’s named as his favorite of the top four finalists has left some insiders very surprised.
Trump said an announcement could come “soon” and then revealed that former Sen. Joe Lieberman — a longtime Democrat and former Clinton political ally — was his top candidate.
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An announcement could come as early as Friday, the soft deadline Trump set for himself. “We’re very close to an FBI director,” Trump said Thursday when asked about the search during an Oval Office appearance with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Lieberman unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
In 2000, he was Al Gore’s vice presidential candidate. Lieberman also supporter Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
“I am going to vote for Hillary Clinton because I have known her forever, and her husband, back when they were at Yale Law School,” Lieberman said in his endorsement. “I worked with her closely in the Senate for eight years. She is strong. She is smart. She understands national security.”
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The potential nomination calls into question Trump’s promise to “lock her up”, critics say.
The former Connecticut senator was among four candidates Trump interviewed at the White House this week. He flashed a thumbs-up as he left the White House on Wednesday after meeting with Trump and said they had a “good meeting.”
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Trump also met with former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating; Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official; and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.
Trump needs a new FBI director because he fired James Comey last week, a move that unleashed furious criticism from the liberal media and Democratic lawmakers. It was a shocking shift for the mainstream media and Democrats, critics pointed out; they had universally been calling for Comey’s firing before Trump’s move.
In an attempt to quell the furor over Comey’s ouster, the Justice Department this week hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the investigation. Trump has denounced the probe as a “witch hunt.”
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Word of Lieberman’s standing in the candidate search drew a mixed reaction from Capitol Hill, with establishment Republicans praising the Democrat turned independent. As expected, Democratic lawmakers immediately went on the attack and condemned the pick.
Lieberman spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention on behalf of his friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and did not seek re-election to the Senate in 2012. He has served as co-chairman of No Labels, a centrist group that promotes bipartisanship.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article