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Cornyn could face Senate resistance if tapped by Trump to lead FBI

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wraps up his keynote address to delegates at the Republican Party of Texas convention in Dallas on May 13, 2016. (Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune)

by Jim Malewitz | The Texas Tribune

If President Donald Trump picks U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to lead the FBI, it’s not a given that the Texan would sail through the confirmation process in his own chamber.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, on Sunday said he was uneasy about picking Cornyn — or anyone else with a political background — to succeed James Comey, who Trump last week ousted as FBI director amid the agency’s investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

Asked, during an interview on NBC's Meet The Press, whether it’s the right time for Trump to pick an elected political official, Graham said no.

“I think it’s now time to pick somebody that comes from within the ranks or is such a reputation that has no political background at all,” he said. “John Cornyn is a wonderful man. Under normal circumstances, he would be a superb choice to be FBI director. But these are not normal circumstances. We’ve got a chance to reset here as a nation.”

Graham wasn’t the only senator on Sunday to suggest Cornyn could face resistance in the chamber.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader from New York, told CNN’s State of the Union that Comey’s replacement should not be “a partisan politician – not in either party,” and that it should be someone who is “experienced.”

“This demands a serious down-the-middle investigation,” the Democrat said of the Trump-Russia question.

Schumer also said he supports calls to block a nomination until a special prosecutor is appointed to take over the investigation.

Cornyn has been identified as one of about a dozen contenders for the nomination. Prior to his election to the Senate in 2002, Cornyn served as Texas attorney general, a Texas Supreme Court justice and a local judge.

Tribune Washington Bureau Chief Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn could be the next FBI director, a White House official says. Cornyn is one of about 11 contenders for the post, according to a news report.
  • Several members of the U.S. House delegation are considering running in a possible U.S. Senate special election.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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