One of the leading contenders to replace James Comey as the next director of the FBI withdrew from consideration on Tuesday.
“Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI Director,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a statement. “I’ve informed the Administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the US Senate.”
Cornyn was one of several candidates who interviewed for the position last weekend after President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired Comey on May 9. During an interview last week, the president said Comey was a “showboat” and a “grand-stander” and said that the “Russia thing” was on his mind as he decided to fire the head of the FBI.
The prospect of Cornyn—or any other partisan politician—running the FBI as it investigates the sitting president gave those on both sides of the aisle pause. “John Cornyn under normal circumstances would be a superb choice to be FBI director,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said last weekend. “But these are not normal circumstances.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “The nominee should not be a partisan politician, not part of either party.”
Cornyn’s track record with the Trump/Russia matter justified those concerns, as Mother Jones reported Monday. Although the Texas senator has said the investigation should go on, he has devoted more of his attention to leaks from intelligence sources to the media. He’s also focused on the “unmasking” of disgraced former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, which Trump supporters have said supports the argument that President Barack Obama had Trump under surveillance during the campaign. Cornyn has also said that the idea that Trump fired Comey because of the FBI’s Russia investigation was a “phony narrative.” He has resisted calls for a special prosecutor in the Russia case even though he wanted one for the Hillary Clinton email investigation.