Former FBI Director James Comey, who was shockingly fired by President Trump on Tuesday, has declined a bipartisan invitation from Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner to testify during a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday. Warner broke the news during an MSNBC interview on Friday afternoon, adding that he hoped Comey would still eventually testify so Americans will be able to hear his side of the story. The New York Times reports that Comey does indeed want to do that, only he wants to do so publicly, according to a close associate.
In addition, Politico and NBC News report that four candidates are now being floated by the White House to replace Comey as the head of the FBI. Interviews, to be conducted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, are apparently being planned for Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Republican senator John Cornyn, former assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division Alice Fisher, and former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia.
McCabe is a 20-year veteran of the FBI and became deputy director last year. Cornyn, a former attorney general and Supreme Court justice in the state of Texas, is currently the GOP’s majority whip in the Senate. Fisher, who if nominated and confirmed would be the first woman to head the FBI, currently works for a private law firm in Washington, D.C. Garcia, a George W. Bush–nominated former U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District and a Governor Cuomo–nominated associate judge on the New York State Court of Appeals, also has experience in the upper ranks of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
These candidates likely aren’t the full list, however. The Times reports that Trump and his advisers have also been asking around to see whether or not former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly would be “loyal” to the president if nominated as FBI director. Other possibilities being considered apparently include former Justice Department lawyer J. Michael Luttig, Republican congressman Trey Gowdy of Benghazi-investigation fame, and former Republican congressmember (and former FBI agent) Mike Rogers, who once chaired the House Intelligence Committee.
President Trump told reporters on Saturday that he expected a “fast decision” on the matter, possibly before he leaves for an international trip on Friday. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, may try to block confirmation of Comey’s replacement until a special committee or commission is set up to investigate Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, though, it’s not at all clear whether any Republican senators will support such a move.
This post has been updated to include additional candidates under consideration.