Washington — Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Howell Republican, was among eight candidates interviewed Saturday at the Department of Justice to be the new director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a source said.
Rogers, who was endorsed over the weekend by the FBI Agents Association, retired from Congress in 2014 after seven terms, having chaired the House Intelligence Committee for four years. The former FBI agent is a national security commentator on CNN and has hosted a nationally syndicated radio show in recent years.
Others interviewed Saturday included acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general and Texas Supreme Court justice; New York Court of Appeals Judge Michael Garcia; Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division under President George W. Bush; Adam Lee, who leads the FBI’s Richmond office; federal judge Henry E. Hudson of Virginia; and Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to Bush from 2003-08.
A Rogers spokesman declined Monday to comment.
President Donald Trump told reporters Monday the search for the new director is “moving rapidly.” Over the weekend, he said he expects to quickly fill the vacancy, following his dismissal last week of FBI Director James Comey amid the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.
“Almost all of them are very well-known,” Trump said of the candidates Saturday morning while aboard Air Force One. “They’ve been vetted over their lifetime, essentially. But very well-known, highly respected, really talented people. And that’s what we want for the FBI.”
The FBI Agents Association represents more than 13,000 active duty and retired agents and endorsed Rogers in 2014 when he was up for the FBI post as a replacement for then-Director Robert Mueller. President Barack Obama instead chose Comey, a former deputy attorney general.
Rogers, 53, was known for bipartisan cooperation when he headed the Intelligence Committee, which oversees 16 intelligence agencies.
“They want someone who is nonpartisan, in essence, even though he’s a Republican. But, you know, he led the House Intelligence Committee and had a very good relationship with the Democrats,” Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton said Monday about Rogers on Michigan’s Big Show.
“He was always spot on all his TV appearances. I think he had more TV appearances than any other member of Congress for the years that he was in. He did very well in his district. Solid guy. … He would be a great fix as you look to come in with a replacement pretty quickly and resolve some of the issues that are there.”
Upton noted that Rogers also has a record “against the Russians,” citing their votes against a 2012 bill to upgrade U.S. trade relations with Russia.
Some members of Congress are worried about Trump nominating a politician for FBI director. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed his concerns Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Graham said it’s not the right time for the FBI to have its first director with a background in elected politics — a category that includes Rogers and Cornyn.
“I think it’s now time to pick someone who comes from within the ranks or has such a reputation that has no political background at all that can go into the job on day one,” Graham said.
“To me, it’s like appointing a judge. The president actually appoints the judge, but the judge is loyal to the law,” he added.
“John Cornyn is a wonderful who under normal circumstances would be a superb choice to be FBI director, but these are not normal circumstances.”
Upton noted that Rogers left politics a few years ago “on his own.”
“He wanted to serve his country. There’s not a better resume than him for this job,” Upton said.
Rogers grew up in Livingston County and graduated from Adrian College in 1985, then moved to California to serve with the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division through 1989, earning the rank of 1st lieutenant.
Rogers joined the FBI as an agent first assigned to the Chicago field office investigating organized crime. He spent about five years in the bureau before returning to Michigan to run for office. He served in the Michigan Senate and became majority leader in 1999 before running for Congress in 2000.