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Sen. Chuck Grassley: Next FBI chief will not be a Trump loyalist

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will oversee the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's nominee to replace James Comey, said the next FBI director needs to be someone without close ties to Trump or his campaign. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday evening that the next director of the FBI needs to be someone without close ties to President Donald Trump or his campaign.

In the wake of Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, some of the president’s critics have accused him of trying to hinder the bureau’s investigation into reports of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

During an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” Grassley, who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will oversee the confirmation hearing for Trump's nominee to replace Comey, suggested that the nomination of a Trump loyalist would only “emphasize” those concerns.

“I think the president and the people close to the president don’t want to emphasize that anymore. They’re going to get somebody entirely away from that, as far as I can tell,” Grassley said.

Roll Call noted that Trump supporters such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both Republicans, have been floated for the role in some circles.

Grassley said that he is “not in the business of suggesting” who the next FBI director should be but did say that the individual ultimately nominated should be “somebody that’s independent and somebody who’ll do the job, and somebody that will have the respect of the people that are the FBI agents. That’s very important.”

He did, however, suggest that "someone who comes from the judicial branch of government" would have "credibility" in the nomination process.

Grassley also addressed the suggestion that Judge Merrick Garland — who was once nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama — could serve as FBI director.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) floated Thursday the idea of nominating Garland to serve as FBI director.

Senate Republicans did not take up Garland’s nomination to the nation’s highest court, arguing that the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled in an election year. Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April.

Grassley said that he thinks Garland “is an outstanding individual” but is familiar with only his record as a judge.

“There’s not anything just about Garland himself that I can say no to,” Grassley said.

Earlier this week, Grassley suggested during an interview with "Fox and Friends" that those upset about Comey’s termination should “suck it up and move on.”

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