Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was once considered the front-runner to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, has formally withdrawn from consideration for the post.
In a letter sent Wednesday to President Donald Trump, Lieberman said he wanted to avoid any potential conflict due to Trump’s decision to tap attorney Marc Kasowitz as his primary outside counsel in ongoing investigations into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Kasowitz and Lieberman work for the same New York firm.
“I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this nomination,” Lieberman said in the letter, released by his office and reported first by the Wall Street Journal. “With your selection of Marc Kasowitz to represent you in the various investigations that have begun, I do believe that it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc is the senior partner.”
Trump interviewed Lieberman for the position last week as part of a confusing process that included interviews with other individuals at the Justice Department, almost none of whom were among the group Trump met.
White House aides indicated last week that Lieberman was the leading contender for the FBI slot, in part because he was expected to have bipartisan appeal. However, a number of Democratic senators said they would oppose Lieberman because the FBI post has never been given to a politician. Some also questioned his experience with law enforcement and noted that, at 75, he would be taking on a job that comes with a 10-year term.
“Just being thought of for this position was a great honor because of my enormous respect for the men and women of the FBI and the critical and courageous work they do in protecting the American people from criminals and terrorists, and upholding our finest values,” Lieberman wrote.