Anderson University president in contention for top FBI post

May 30, 2017

President Donald Trump is still on the hunt for a new FBI director after firing James Comey, and is considering the president of Anderson University as a replacement.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump on Tuesday met with John Pistole, the former head of the Transportation Security Administration and Anderson's president since early 2015.

Pistole, an Anderson native, served as deputy director of the FBI from October 2004 to May 2010. As deputy director, he was second in command at the organization.

He joined the FBI in 1983 and spent more than 26 years there before heading the TSA from 2010 through 2014.

Pistole is a 1978 graduate of Anderson, a private university about 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis. He received his law degree from Indiana University's McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

Trump on Tuesday also met with with Chris Wray, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department who has served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's personal lawyer.

Trump is still on the hunt for a new FBI director three weeks after he fired James Comey. Before he departed on his first overseas trip, which ended Saturday, Trump met with former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Lieberman later pulled his name from consideration.

Spicer declined to provide a short list for the position, telling reporters that when Trump "feels as though he's met with the right candidate, he'll let us know." He said the president would continue to meet with candidates "until he finds the right leader."

Asked about the FBI vacancy, Keating said in an email to The Associated Press: "I remain interested and I remain comfortable with the President's widening of the circle. The more faces, the more opportunity for a solid choice. My fingers are crossed but I am satisfied with the process."

Pistole spent more than two decades with the FBI, serving as deputy director for six years before President Barack Obama picked him to lead the TSA in 2010. He oversaw the transportation agency during a turbulent stretch as it sought to balance passenger privacy with safety. He currently serves as president of Anderson University in Indiana, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1978.

Wray represented Christie during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case, in which two former aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of the bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the governor. Christie, who has informally advised the president, was not charged in the case.

Christie's office disclosed last year that Wray had the missing cell phone that was used by the governor and contained about a dozen text messages that Christie exchanged with a former staffer during a legislative hearing related to the bridge in 2013.

Wray worked for the Justice Department during the administration of President George W. Bush, rising to lead the department's Criminal Division and overseeing investigations into corporate fraud.

Several others who interviewed for the job have also withdrawn from consideration, including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and Alice Fisher, the former head of the department's criminal division.

Trump has also interviewed former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who has been endorsed by the FBI Agents Association, and Frances Townsend, the homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Bush.


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