The day before leaving on a nine-day trip to the Middle East, President Donald Trump said he was “very close” to choosing a successor to James Comey as head of the FBI. One of those he interviewed earlier in the week is former Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.
Pushback was immediate but from unlikely places. The New York Times said Lieberman “would be an atypical choice to lead the F.B.I., whose agents prize the bureau’s independence.… Judges and former prosecutors … have frequently been chosen [instead].” Following a closed-door Democrat luncheon on Thursday, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) also backed away from supporting Lieberman for Senate confirmation if he were nominated by the president.
Politico interviewed a number of Democrat senators for its story on Lieberman and noted that all of them “said the former Connecticut senator lacks the kind of experience needed for the post.” Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told Politico, “We need a law enforcement professional, not someone who’s run for [political] office. We don’t need anyone who’s put on a red shirt or a blue shirt, or who’s campaigned for president.” Lieberman was Al Gore’s vice-presidential nominee in 2000.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who holds Lieberman’s old seat following Lieberman’s retirement after serving four terms in the Senate in 2013, said that Lieberman “has a history of angering Democrats and Republicans … but my concern is about someone with a political background. This is a moment for someone with a law enforcement background. It’s really important to restore people’s faith in the FBI.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added, “We ought to stay away from political figures. All [his] voting history, all [his] party history, whatever it is, I would stay away from it [and] stick with the professionals.”
Some call Lieberman a DINO — a Democrat in Name Only — especially after he urged Democrat senators to reject President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. It didn’t help any that Lieberman endorsed Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona over Obama in 2008.
There are other issues mitigating against smooth sailing in the Senate for Lieberman. He is 75 and FBI directors serve 10-year terms. There’s a conflict of interest as Lieberman currently works at a Trump law firm. And his stint as Connecticut state attorney general was more than 30 years ago.
In addition, Lieberman is a graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School, a red flag for those who are sensitive to establishment types who have flowed for years from that campus into public service and voting as extreme Left liberals.
A look at Lieberman’s voting record confirms those suspicions. The John Birch Society has been tracking the voting records of elected representatives and senators for years, rating them based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. Based on his cumulative scores in the society’s Freedom Index from 1999 through 2013, Lieberman scored a dismal nine out of 100 possible points. In other words, he voted in support of the Constitution to which he pledged fealty four times, fewer than one time out of ten. To put this into perspective, Lieberman’s voting record is even worse than that of radical leftist Keith Ellison, a member of the House from Minnesota and now serving as co-chair of the Democrat National Committee. Ellison has a Freedom Index rating of 25.
Lieberman has voted so consistently against the Second Amendment that he has received an “F” rating from both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. In an e-mail to its members on Friday, GOA Chairman Tim Macy warned that “a leftist nominee [such as Lieberman] will do a lot of damage to the Second Amendment.” Added Macy:
Lieberman’s record on guns is abysmal. He voted against legislation to allow law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights in parks, on trains, or in the District of Columbia.
He supports so-called “gun-free zones,” which turn innocent civilians into sitting ducks….
As FBI director he would have an enormous influence over gun policy.…
Trust us. No one who would be acceptable to [Senate Minority Leader Democrat Charles] Schumer would be any friend of the Second Amendment.
On top of that, Lieberman comes from Connecticut, which has some of the most draconian gun laws in the country. So restrictive is the one that passed in 2013 that it required every law-abiding owner of an AR-15 rifle to fess up and register it with the state. Most of them didn’t bother. Of the estimated 350,000 rifles owned by the state’s citizens, less than 15 percent of them have been registered, turning between 20,000 and 100,000 of Connecticut’s gun owners into criminals. What stopped enforcement in its tracks was the discovery in March 2014 that two-thirds of Connecticut’s law-enforcement officers had failed to register their own firearms under the new law.
There is a ray of hope that Trump won’t nominate Lieberman as FBI director. First, Trump set a “soft target date” for Friday to make the announcement but went on his Middle East trip before doing so. Second, before leaving, Trump interviewed three other candidates for the position: Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating; Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official; and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. In addition, Trump is still seeking to interview other applicants for the position with another possible contender being Adam Lee, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia, field office.
Following his nine-day trip, the president will likely resume the interview process, putting off his final decision for at least the next two weeks. This is plenty of time for groups such as the GOA to bring pressure to bear on the president to find someone other than an anti-gun liberal establishment type with no respect for the Constitution to fill the slot.
Photo of Joe Lieberman: U.S Senate