Home/Daniel Larison/Report: Joe Lieberman Is Trump’s Leading Choice for FBI Director

Report: Joe Lieberman Is Trump’s Leading Choice for FBI Director

This report on the leading contender to be the next FBI Director should be a joke, but it isn’t:

Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, is the frontrunner to be named FBI director, according to several White House officials and advisers.

Senior administration officials have told others in the last 12 hours that Trump is expected to pick Lieberman to replace FBI director James Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump last week.

It’s not clear what qualifies Lieberman to head any law enforcement agency, much less one as important as the FBI. Even if Lieberman had the qualifications to head a major federal law enforcement agency, his record is full of instances where he has favored expanding surveillance and trampling on civil liberties in the name of security. That record alone should make us wary of letting Trump install him in this position. But another important problem with a Lieberman nomination is that he is senior counsel at a law firm that Trump has routinely used in the past:

Having left the Senate in 2013, Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, is now senior counsel at the firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman, which has offices in nine cities.

The firm has represented Trump in matters for years.

One of the firm’s partners has been called Trump’s “go-to guy,” and the firm is well-known for its connections to Trump:

“In the past, people knew Kasowitz Benson Torres and Friedman as a firm that was full of ‘superior legal minds,’” Staci Zaretsky of the legal news website Above The Law wrote in March, referencing a quote from a 2011 lawsuit against the firm. “These days, people know Kasowitz Benson Torres and Friedman as a firm with close ties to President Donald Trump, with two name partners deeply entrenched in his regime.” [bold mine-DL]

On the face of it, the fact that Trump is seriously considering installing someone from this firm as FBI Director looks shady. Lieberman is already a strange pick for the position, and his employment at a Trump-connected law firm would make his selection even more questionable. The fact that Trump reportedly prefers Lieberman over other, obviously more qualified candidates, including the current acting director, should make everyone view a Lieberman nomination with extreme skepticism.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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