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Report: Rogers among FBI director candidates

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Former Michigan U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is one of several candidates with law enforcement experience who is being considered to become director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

President Donald Trump is considering Rogers — a Howell Republican who is a former FBI agent and a former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee — to replace the fired James Comey, Bloomberg News reported, citing an unnamed White House official.

Rogers’ name was floated two days ago as a possible candidate to replace Comey.

Three other candidates are U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and former federal prosecutor who led the Benghazi investigation; Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division for President George W. Bush; and former New York City police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bloomberg reported.

For a time, Rogers advised the Trump transition team on national security issues. In mid-November, he resigned from the transition team and handed over the duties to other advisers.

The former congressman’s candidacy got backing Friday from the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight committee, who is sponsoring legislation requiring an independent investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“I think Congressman Rogers … would be fine,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said on MSNBC, also naming U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge Merrick Garland and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as acceptable choices. “But we have to have people like that who will do what is right by the American people.”

The U.S. Department of Justice on Saturday will interview four candidates, according to two people familiar with the process: acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Fisher; Michael J. Garcia, an associate judge on the New York’s highest court; and Sen. John Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general. Others may also interview, they said, so it doesn’t mean Rogers is out of the running.

On Wednesday morning, the former Michigan congressman told WJR’s Paul W. Smith he had not then heard from the Trump administration.

“The administration is going to need to move fairly quickly on a consensus candidate. This creates a little bit of turmoil, as we can all see and imagine, not only in the ranks of the FBI ... but we need a little calming factor, a little leadership, and a little less spotlight for the FBI director running to the microphone every time he has a pain about some political fluttering out there,” Rogers said. “I think that’s what got Jim Comey in trouble.”

Rogers, 53, served seven terms in the U.S. House before retiring from Congress in 2014. That year, he was endorsed by the FBI Agents Association to become the FBI director, but President Barack Obama went with former deputy attorney general James Comey.

Rogers is considered a leading voice in the areas of national security, intelligence and counter-terrorism. A frequent Sunday morning talk show guest during his tenure in Congress, Rogers is now a national security commentator on CNN.

He has hosted “Something to Talk About,” a 60-second segment syndicated on radio stations across the country. The former congressman also has been a guest host on WJR.

During the 2016 primary election season, Rogers promoted “strong” American foreign policy and organized forums on national security with presidential candidates in battleground states. Trump did not participate in the forums hosted by Rogers’ group, Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.

Rogers has also founded the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs, working jointly with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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, 1989 to 1994, before returning to Michigan to enter elected politics at age 31.

He was elected to the Michigan State Senate, took office in 1995 and became majority leader in 1999. He then ran for the congressional seat vacated by Democrat Debbie Stabenow when she ran for U.S. Senate in 2000. Rogers won the seat by 111 votes.

He became chairman of the Intelligence committee after the GOP won control of the U.S. House in the 2010 elections. The panel oversees 16 intelligence agencies. Rogers also served on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rogers sits on the board of directors of IronNet Cybersecurity and the board of advisers for Next Century Corp., a technology company. He also serves on the Cybersecurity Industry Advisory Council for Trident Capital.

Associated Press contributed.