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Cornyn Withdraws From Consideration as FBI Director

Majority Whip says the best way he can serve is by remaining in the Senate

Cornyn was interviewed for the FBI director job. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Cornyn was interviewed for the FBI director job. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Cornyn has taken himself out of consideration to be the next F.B.I. director, he informed President Donald Trump’s administration Tuesday.

The Texas Republican said in a statement that the best place for him to serve is in the Senate.

“Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI Director,” Cornyn said. “I’ve informed the Administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate.”

Cornyn, the GOP whip, interviewed for the position over the weekend, following Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James B. Comey. Comey’s firing sparked criticism from Democrats and some congressional Republicans, since Comey was leading the agency’s investigation into ties between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russia, which sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. 

Cornyn declined to say Monday evening whether the Russia investigation came up during his interview, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions attended.

When asked whether Sessions involvement with the search raised any concerns — since Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation — Cornyn said he did not see any conflict.

“He didn’t recuse from being attorney general,” Cornyn told reporters.

Cornyn is former Texas Supreme Court judge and attorney general, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. But the circumstances surrounding Comey’s firing prompted at least one Senate Republican to say indicate he would not support Cornyn for the position.

“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,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. The South Carolina Republican chairs the Judiciary subcommittee with oversight over the FBI.

Cornyn was not at the Senate leadership press conference Tuesday, as is customary. Cornyn had just taken himself out of contention to be FBI director.

Joseph P. Williams contributed to this report. 

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