Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., has withdrawn himself from consideration to lead the FBI, the senator announced Tuesday.
“Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI director,” Cornyn 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 U.S. Senate.”
Cornyn was on a short list to replace former FBI director James Comey, who was fired from the post last week by President Donald Trump. The president, who caused chaos in Washington, D.C. over the abrupt firing of the official overseeing the probe into his possible ties to Russia, said he wants to move quickly to fill the vacancy. Former deputy director Andrew McCabe is now serving as acting director, and is under consideration for the permanent appointment.
The senior senator from Texas and majority whip, Cornyn was the highest-profile candidate for the post. He is well known among his colleagues in the Senate, who will have to confirm Trump’s choice for FBI director.
Cornyn’s withdrawal follows that of Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who said Monday he was “not the right person” to lead the FBI. Also on Trump’s shortlist is former congressman Mike Rogers, who served as House Intelligence Committee chairman, and is a former FBI special agent.
Both Democrats and Republicans have said the FBI must be led by someone apolitical, in the midst of Russia probes in both chambers of Congress that have struggled to remain independent and avoid partisanship in investigating possible ties between Trump associates and Russia during the election.
Non-political candidates who have interviewed for FBI director include former Justice Department official Alice Fischer, former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend, who served under former President George W. Bush.