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Leading candidate for FBI chief may be woman

  • Article by: Sari Horwitz
  • Washington Post
  • March 31, 2013 - 8:50 PM

– The Obama administration has begun searching for a replacement for FBI Director Robert Mueller, and for the first time one of the leading contenders is a woman.

One of several people under consideration, according to current and past administration officials, is Lisa Monaco, who left a senior post at the Justice Department this month to become President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser. She also had served as Mueller’s chief of staff.

Mueller, 68, will step down Sept. 4 after 12 years on the job. Since taking the helm a week before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mueller has overseen the bureau’s transformation into a worldwide counterterrorism operation.

The director’s job is limited to 10 years by law, but the Senate in 2011 extended Mueller’s term for two years at Obama’s request after a search for a replacement failed.

Officials said the administration wants to find a successor soon so that person can be vetted, nominated and confirmed before Congress goes on summer recess. In the early stages, the process is being coordinated by the Justice Department.

Among the names that have surfaced as contenders are Monaco, who oversaw the National Security Division at Justice before moving to the White House; Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; James Comey, deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration; Neil MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Patrick Fitzgerald, former U.S. attorney in Chicago.

Spokeswomen for the White House and the Justice Department declined to comment on the search. Other current officials described the process on condition that they not be identified.

Monaco, 44, would be the first woman to lead the FBI. Before heading the National Security Division at Justice, she was a counsel to former Attorney General Janet Reno and an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

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