President Donald Trump stepped up the search today for a new FBI director after his abrupt firing of James Comey, but Democrats are threatening to throw up roadblocks unless a special prosecutor is named to probe team Trump's ties to Russia.
Trump told reporters today he was "moving rapidly" to pick a replacement for Comey, whose shock dismissal triggered accusations that the president is trying to obstruct an FBI probe into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the November election his way.
A dozen different names are being mentioned in US media as candidates to replace Comey. Politico puts the number at 14.
"Almost all of them are very well known. They've been vetted over their lifetime, essentially. But very well known, highly respected, really talented people," Trump said at the weekend.
He said he might make a decision before leaving late in the week on his first major international trip, to the Middle East and Europe.
The possible candidates include men and women with experience in law enforcement or national security, and others more associated with politics.
Among the group are the current acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, veteran Republican Senator John Cornyn, New York judge Michael Garcia, former Justice Department official Alice Fisher, former presidential adviser Fran Townsend, Republican former congressman Mike Rogers, and Trey Gowdy, who led a congressional panel that probed the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.
Trump's pick to succeed Comey will have to first appear at hearings before a Senate panel, before their nomination is put to a vote in the entire Republican-controlled Senate.
But Democratic lawmakers are making such a vote contingent on the Justice Department naming a special prosecutor to probe Russia's alleged interference in the US election -- and the question of possible collusion with Trump's campaign.
"To have that special prosecutor, people would breathe a sigh of relief, because then there would be a real independent person overlooking the FBI director," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said yesterday.