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A former FBI agent with more than two decades of service told Business Insider in a recent interview that they believed Fran Townsend, President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser, would be a great choice for the bureau’s next director.
The former agent, who spoke on background to provide their candid thoughts on the fallout of President Donald Trump’s bombshell firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, said Townsend would check off a lot of boxes for Trump.
The former agent said Townsend was well liked and respected by “those that are in the know” from her time working in both the Bush administration and President Bill Clinton’s Department of Justice, adding that they were unaware of any “real negatives” she’d bring to the job. She has a breadth of experience involving national-security issues, the former agent said, and that a woman would “be the smart pick” for Trump to nominate to the post.
Townsend’s name has begun to appear in other media reports as well. NBC reported on Saturday that Townsend was being interviewed for the opening, and ABC reported that she was spotted at the White House the day Comey was fired.
Townsend has recently worked as a national-security analyst for CBS and, before that, CNN. She was a federal prosecutor in New York and the leader of the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review before taking a job in the Bush administration.
The former agent said they thought former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who once worked as a special agent at the FBI and was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, would also be a good pick. Rogers received the endorsement of the FBI Agents Association last week and is reportedly under consideration for the job.
The former agent said many other candidates would be too partisan to be confirmed. He cited New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an example.
“Some of these names they’re throwing around, there’s just no way,” the former agent said. “Too partisan right now. And even though you only need the Republicans to get congressional approval, all it takes is a couple senators to go, ‘Nah, that’s too controversial,’ and somebody a little more palatable can be picked.”
The former agent said that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who interviewed for the top job over the weekend, had “zero chance.” They added that a deputy director had never ascended to the top post in the agency’s history and that McCabe was still embroiled in a controversy involving his wife’s run for Virginia Senate in 2015.
The former agent addressed the possibility of nominating DC Circuit Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland, which has been tossed around by a top Republican senator and promoted by several leaders on the left and right. Garland was President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick whose nomination in 2016 was successfully obstructed by Senate Republicans.
“Merrick Garland?!” the former agent said before taking a lengthy pause. “No way.”
Whoever the pick is, the former agent said they would have to be “pretty strong-willed” and “just like Comey.”
“They’ve got to be ready for a no-win situation,” the former agent said. “A guy like Comey, again, there aren’t a whole lot of them out there.”