After “some reflection” and consulting with family and people inside and outside the FBI, bureau Director Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday he agreed with the White House proposal to stay on for two years.
Mueller appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering a bill that would extend his 10-year term two more years. His term currently is set to expire in September.
While there were some questions raised as to whether the extension could be constitutionally challenged, and therefore undermine the director’s effectiveness, the reception was generally welcoming and complimentary.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) thanked Mueller for his “tremendous service” and said it was no small fete that there had been no major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said of the proposed legislation to extend Mueller’s term: “I assume it will pass.”
Leahy added that Mueller’s wife should be thanked, considering she doesn’t get enough credit for her support of the director.
Mueller said his wife appreciates and the “much deserved” acknowledgement.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) asked about criticism of agents in management who feel its unfair that Mueller is about to get an extension while they were not allowed to stay on in their current management post.
The policy that has so irritated agents surfaced after Sept. 11, 2001. It requires FBI supervisors to move on after seven years and compete for another managerial post, retire or get demoted at the same field office with a pay decrease.
Mueller said Wednesday it was difficult decision to implement the policy, and the agency lost some good people. But he said the move has helped develop a pool of good managers.
Mueller also testified that he planned to continue focusing on terrorism and cyber crimes along with other pressing issues like the violence and drug trafficking along the Southwest border.
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Mueller before the President decided to extend Mueller’s term, testified before the committee, calling Mueller “one of the finest public servants this nation has ever seen.”
Comey said he supported the current 10-year term limit, but said the potentially dangerous times call for an exception at this time, and he therefore supported the extension of Mueller’s tenure.