Trump broadens search for FBI director

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump is widening his search for FBI director, meeting with two additional candidates to replace ousted director James Comey.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was meeting Tuesday with two contenders to lead the agency: former Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole and Chris Wray, a former top Justice Department official who has served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's personal lawyer.

Trump is still on the hunt for a new FBI director three weeks after he fired Comey and expressed hopes of naming a new leader for the bureau before his first overseas trip, which ended Saturday. Before he departed, Trump met with former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Lieberman later pulled his name from consideration.

Spicer declined to provide a short list for the position, telling reporters that when Trump "feels as though he's met with the right candidate he'll let us know." He said the president would continue to meet with candidates "until he finds the right leader."

Asked about the FBI vacancy, Keating said in an email to The Associated Press, "I remain interested and I remain comfortable with the President's widening of the circle. The more faces, the more opportunity for a solid choice. My fingers are crossed but I am satisfied with the process."

Pistole spent more than two decades with the FBI, serving as deputy director for six years before President Barack Obama picked him to lead the TSA in 2010. He oversaw the transportation agency during turbulent stretch as it sought to balance passenger privacy with safety. He currently serves as president of Anderson University in Indiana, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1978.

Wray represented Christie during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case, in which two former aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of the bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the governor. Christie, who has informally advised the president, was not charged in the case.

Christie's office disclosed last year that Wray had the missing cell phone that was used by the governor and contained about a dozen text messages that Christie exchanged with a former staffer during a legislative hearing related to the bridge in 2013.

Wray worked for the Justice Department during the administration of President George W. Bush, rising to lead the department's Criminal Division and overseeing investigations into corporate fraud.

Several others who interviewed for the job have also withdrawn from consideration, including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and Alice Fisher, the former head of the department's criminal division.

Trump has also interviewed former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who has been endorsed by the FBI Agents Association, and Frances Townsend, the homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Bush.

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Associated Press writers Sadie Gurman and Josh Cornfield contributed to this report.

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Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KThomasDC

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