White House Begins Search for New FBI Director
By Ryan J. Reilly | May 5, 2022 11:30 am

Candidates the White House is considering for FBI Director: (from left to right) James Comey; Raymond Kelly; William Bratton; Ronald Noble; Frances Townsend; and Patrick Fitzgerald.

The White House has quietly begun thinking about potential candidates to succeed FBI Director Robert Mueller, whose 10-year term expires next year. The considerations have reached across party lines, according to people briefed on the process – a potential move to pick someone who could preempt a Republican effort to turn a confirmation hearing into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s national security policies.

At the FBI, Mueller’s inner circle is acutely aware that his tenure is drawing to a close, though Mueller himself is said to have not made plans for his life after the FBI.

The search is also said to include people with a range of backgrounds and managerial experience, an indication the administration may not select a candidate from the federal bench like Mueller’s three predecessors, Louis Freeh, William Sessions and William Webster.

Robert Mueller (file photo by Stephanie Woodrow / Main Justice).

While it is not known for certain who is under consideration, the list of potential candidates discussed in law enforcement circles is growing. Among them: Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol who was a top law enforcement official at Treasury during the Clinton years; Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago and DOJ special counsel who successfully prosecuted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney; and James Comey, the general counsel at Lockheed Martin and a former Deputy Attorney General who in 2004 bucked the White House by refusing to reauthorize the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.

Others include two well-known police officials — Raymond Kelly, the New York police commissioner whose department has sometimes clashed with the FBI; and William Bratton, the former chief of police in Los Angeles. Another possibility: Frances Fragos Townsend, President George W. Bush’s respected chief counterterrorism adviser, who would be the first female FBI Director.

Mueller, 65, was confirmed in August 2001 and began his term on Sept. 4, 2001, just a week before the Sept. 11 attacks. He previously served as a federal prosecutor in U.S. Attorneys’ offices in the Northern District of California and in Massachusetts. At the Justice Department, he headed the Criminal Division during the first Bush administration and served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California from 1998 until 2001.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter noted that Mueller’s term does not expire until 2011 and said he has not seen indications of a White House search for a new director this time.

Additional reporting by David Johnston.

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to clarify that the White House hasn’t formally begun to interview potential candidates for FBI director.



  1. Frances Townsend Floated as Possible FBI Chief? | Life and Health Insurance says:

    [...] to replace FBI Chief Robert Mueller. His ten year term expires in 2011. Main Justice has a list of potential replacements. It includes Patrick Fitzgerald, James Comey and Frances [...]

  2. [...] WASHINGTON - The White House has started interviewing candidates to succeed the stoic FBI Robert S. Mueller III, who is set to step down next year, the website Main Justice reported. [...]

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