Before the Trump administration tapped him to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Robert Mueller III was under consideration to take the reins at the FBI, according to news reports.
Sources close to the process told National Public Radio that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was looking at Mueller as a replacement for Director James Comey, who was fired on May 9. He was even put through the first steps, including meeting with Justice Department and White House officials.
A former prosecutor, Mueller stepped into the role as President George W. Bush’s FBI Director just days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. A reflection of his reputation as a non-partisan professional was that President Barack Obama requested he extend his tenure at the FBI for two more years.
Under intense pressure to name an independent investigator, the White House chose someone who could garner bipartisan support. According to NPR, the fact he was being talked about for the FBI position underscores the difficulty the administration is having finding a confirmable candidate.
Since assuming the role of special counsel, Mueller has bolstered that reputation by staffing his office with former colleagues from the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr and his former law partner James Quarles, who worked on the Watergate investigation.