Republicans Could Slow Quick Extension for FBI Dir. Mueller

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller/fbi file photo
By Allan Lengel

Seldom is anything in the political process simple in Washington. In fact, the New York Times reports that extending FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III’s 10-year term for two more years — considered a slam dunk —  may not go as smoothly as had hoped.

The New York Times reports that some Republicans have thrown up some roadblocks to a swift approval — even though the stoic Mueller enjoys bi-partisan support and is highly respected on Capitol Hill. The Times reported that there’s even an outside chance Mueller might have to temporarily step aside next month.

The Times pointed out that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok) wanted the White House to nominate Mueller to a special term, subject to Senate confirmation. The White House had hoped to accomplish the extension simply through one-time legislation that would extend the director’s term two years. It had hoped to skip any confirmation process.

But the Times reported that the White House quietly agreed last week to Coburn’s approach.

Plus,  Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sent a four-page letter to Mueller last week, saying he wanted to meet and get questions answered. That could delay matters as well.

Mueller’s last day was thought to be Sept. 3. But the White House legal counsel has concluded that it’s actually Aug. 2 because  President George W. Bush signed his appointment on Aug. 3, 2001, the Times reported  Coincidentally, the government will hit a debt  Aug. 2, the Times pointed out.

“Director Mueller has resounding bipartisan support, and our hope is that the Congress will act as soon as possible to ensure that Director Mueller can continue to lead the F.B.I. in its important national security mission,” said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, according to the Times.

The Times reported that an aided to Sen. Paul said the senator only wanted answers and did not intend to hold up the process until the 11th hour.

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