President Trump said Thursday he is “very close” to naming a new FBI director to replace James Comey, and his leading contender is former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Lieberman, 75, who served in the Senate from 1989-2013, first as a Democrat and then as an independent, met with Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss leading the law enforcement agency. A late and somewhat unlikely addition to Trump's short list, Lieberman is nonetheless the sudden frontrunner.
When asked point-blank by a reporter in the Oval Office Thursday if Lieberman was the leading contender, Trump replied, "Yes."
Trump also met Wednesday with current acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and FBI official Richard McFeely.
Lieberman’s law enforcement experience stems from his two-term tenure as Connecticut’s attorney general, spanning from 1983 until his resignation in 1989 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Lieberman, who ran as vice president on Al Gore's 2000 ticket, became an independent after losing the Democratic primary in 2006. He won re-election, and two years later further angered Democrats when he endorsed John McCain for president against eventual winner Barack Obama, even speaking at the Republican National Convention.
Lieberman told Fox Business Network last year that he “never changed parties” and in fact ended up endorsing Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign against Trump.
Some Republican senators called the idea of Lieberman replacing Comey “intriguing,” but Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said it was a “mistake” to nominate him.
"Lieberman is probably the only person who can get 100 votes in the Senate," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Capitol Hill on Thursday after the closed Senate briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Cornyn was on the White House's shortlist to replace Comey, but withdrew himself from consideration this week.
On Thursday morning on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., argued against a “career politician” of either party to lead the FBI, though he did not name Lieberman.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, John Roberts, and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.