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As the Department of Justice goes through the interview process to fill the vacancy at the top of the Federal Bureau of Investigation following President Trump’s firing of Director James Comey, one name on the list is no longer in the running.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who had been thought to be up for consideration for the ‘top cop’ job, was out of the country when Comey was given his pink slip by the president, but says he spoke twice with Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the search for a new director and has determined he is not the right man for the job.

Gowdy’s decision is a disappointment to many who have watched his razor sharp legal analysis as he questioned witnesses before House committees ranging from IRS official Lois Lerner and Commissioner John Koskinen to Hillary Clinton to James Comey himself.

A former solicitor for South Carolina’s Seventh Judicial District and federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney for the District of that state, Gowdy approached the House Select Committee on Benghazi hearings with the determination of a pit bull earning him Rolling Stone magazine’s reluctant admiration in calling him “The Hillary Slayer.”

 Gowdy’s interrogations have become huge draws on YouTube nearing a cult-like status as followers tune in to watch him question witnesses with a relentlessness that also combines wit – all delivered with a deceptively smooth Southern accent.

His lawyerlike demeanor, however, often slipped into barely concealed anger when questioning witnesses about the abuses at Veteran Administration hospitals, leaving witnesses sputtering and stammering.

But while many in the public felt that Gowdy’s toughness would be a welcome trait in a new director of the FBI, it was doubtful a staunch Republican would make it through what are virtually certain to be highly contentious confirmation hearings necessary to put the next director to work.

Rep. Gowdy released a statement on Monday withdrawing his name from consideration, saying that although he agreed with Attorney General Sessions on the qualities required of a new director, the 52-year-old three-term representative does not feel he is “the right person for the job.”

Referencing the “scores” of law enforcement officers and prosecutors who had reached out to him in the few days since Comey’s sudden dismissal, Gowdy thanked them for their support, but made clear his “firm conviction” that he would not be suitable for the position.

 “I was out of the country on a House Intelligence Committee mission when Jim Comey's tenure ended as Director of the FBI. I spoke briefly with Attorney General Sessions Saturday when I returned and again this afternoon. I shared with him two things: (1) the qualities I believe are indispensable for our next FBI Director to possess, and (2) my firm conviction that I would not be the right person. I greatly appreciate the Attorney General speaking with me and respecting my decision and I wish him wisdom as he interviews potential candidates.”

The DOJ has acted swiftly in seeking a new director, following President Trump’s promise to do so – hoping to have a name before he leaves for his first trip abroad as president – interviewing eight candidates during the weekend.

Current front-runners include Ray Kelly, former police commissioner of New York City who had the support of Democrat Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer for the position in 2011, former Congressman and FBI special agent Mike Rogers, acting director James McCabe, and in a surprisingly strong position, Judge Merrick Garland.

Garland, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated by President Barack Obama last year to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but did not receive a hearing as the Republican majority followed the tradition of not considering an appointment during an election year.

The possibility of a Garland directorship at the FBI is drawing some bipartisan support perhaps in an effort to bypass what looks to be senators squaring off against each other in confirmation hearings.

In any event, Gowdy removing himself from consideration has left the choices without one of the best prosecutors and legal minds that could have filled the bill.

 

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