White House to seek 2-year extension for Mueller at FBI

posted at 12:55 pm on May 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Until today, the Obama administration seemed well on its way to selecting a new FBI Director.  Robert Mueller’s 10-year term will shortly expire, and by statute he cannot serve a second term.  The White House, however, now plans to ask Congress for a two-year extension in order to provide continuity while other changes get made to the national-security team leadership, Jake Tapper reports:

President Obama will seek legislation to allow FBI Director Robert Mueller III to stay on the job for two more years. …

In a statement, the president said that Mueller “has set the gold standard for leading the Bureau,” and praised his law enforcement and national security credentials  “relentless commitment to the rule of law, unquestionable integrity and independence, and…steady hand.”

Part of the reason for the president’s move is continuity, given not only ongoing threats facing the US but leadership transitions at the Pentagon and CIA.

Mueller’s term started exactly one week before 9/11.  His leadership of the FBI since has received praise and respect, avoiding much of the criticism aimed at the CIA for intelligence failures.  If it weren’t for the precedent of J. Edgar Hoover and his abuses of power during a lifetime reign at the FBI, Congress might be tempted to allow Mueller a second full term.

Given the turmoil already taking place at the CIA and Pentagon as Obama shuffles his team, an extension makes some sense.  As an inducement to Republicans, the extra two years means that a Republican might get the chance to name Mueller’s eventual replacement, although it’s doubtful that any of them will complain about Obama’s nomination of David Petraeus as CIA Director.  It’s one less potentially difficult Senate confirmation hearing to endure for Obama, too, a potential consideration with the ATF gunrunning scandal still being probed by Congress.  Both ATF and FBI belong to the Department of Justice, which Republicans could hve stretched into a relevant topic, although that probably would have depended on the candidate and how controversial he or she may have been.

I’d bet that Obama will get little trouble from Congress in approving an extension.  Still, it does seem a little like punting rather than making a required decision, and Obama could just as easily have put off making a change at the CIA by selecting a more appropriate successor to Robert Gates than Leon Panetta.  For some reason, I wonder whether the reluctance to part with Mueller for the next two years may be related to Obama’s estimation of how much longer Mueller’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, may be sticking around.  Having to deal with those two openings simultaneously would really be a headache, and given the ATF scandal and the humiliating backwalk on Gitmo and civilian trials for the 9/11 plotters, it might just be that Holder will be looking to spend more time with his family soon.


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Van Jones is not available until then.

BobMbx on May 12, 2011 at 1:02 PM

No, no extension.

Can there at least be one rule that this White House follows?

Please?

Mr. Bingley on May 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I like it.

myrenovations on May 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

No thank-you, no need to set a precedent that we could learn to regret later.

fourdeucer on May 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Voting “Present”… again!

Khun Joe on May 12, 2011 at 1:10 PM

“I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.”
 
- Candidate Barack H. Obama

rogerb on May 12, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Asking Congress for this extension is yet another case of voting Present.

Do your job. You took an oath. Somewhere, sometime, such a thing had a solemn weight of value. That, however, presumes a conscience which would be involved in making decisions, rather than ducking them.

Freelancer on May 12, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Too chicken to appoint some leftist jackwagon on the short list, especially with 2012 around the corner.

Rest assured, if PBHO wins a second term, his choice to replace Mueller will have rational people running for the nearest fallout shelter.

Bishop on May 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

No, no extension.

Can there at least be one rule that this White House follows?

Please?

Mr. Bingley on May 12, 2011 at 1:04 PM

You would rather have Obama pick someone than let Mueller serve for two more years? As long as Congress votes on it, I don’t see the problem.

HeroesforGhosts on May 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM

I like Mueller. I really don’t like the idea of extending the FBI Director’s term. This is an enormously bad precedent.

This is all about avoiding a protracted fight with anti-Patriot Act lefties during the Senate confirmation hearings anyway.

Robert_Paulson on May 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM

For some reason, I wonder whether the reluctance to part with Mueller for the next two years may be related to Obama’s estimation of how much longer Mueller’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, may be sticking around.

I think it is more related to Big O’s desire to get a TRUE BLUE LEFTY in as Dir of FBI.

Its a gamble but he will not have to answer to anyone if he gets reelected and nominates a commie like who knows???? Van Jones.

Probably not but I am so cynical that i believe it will be an ideologue closer to Jones than to Meuller.

We have to keep this yohoo out of the White House in 2012. Heaven Help Us.

SayNo2-O on May 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM

You would rather have Obama pick someone than let Mueller serve for two more years? As long as Congress votes on it, I don’t see the problem.

HeroesforGhosts on May 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM

He’s supposed to pick someone. That’s the statute. He’s supposed to make a decision.

Mr. Bingley on May 12, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Still, it does seem a little like punting rather than making a required decision

he is the ditherer-in-chief, so not surprised by this move

cmsinaz on May 12, 2011 at 1:22 PM

Obama: “Making decisions and going on the record for them is hard

search4truth on May 12, 2011 at 1:23 PM

it is all about the election…hussain does not want Mueller on the TV circuit talking about Holder and the WH

georgealbert on May 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

That’s the statute. He’s supposed to…
 
Mr. Bingley on May 12, 2011 at 1:21 PM

 
“It’s just like being back in college.”
 
- President Barack H. Obama

rogerb on May 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

This is all about avoiding a protracted fight with anti-Patriot Act lefties during the Senate confirmation hearings anyway.

Robert_Paulson on May 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM

An extension would get him through the 2012 election, wouldn’t it.

I think I’d rather have him announce his nominee now, while he still has the voters to face, rather than later when he won’t be worried about re-election consequences.

petefrt on May 12, 2011 at 1:41 PM

There is a reason why the FBI director is time limited. If not we get a repeat of J. Edgar Hoover; “reappoint me because it would be a shame if this highly embarrassing information got out.”

Usful Ijit on May 12, 2011 at 1:43 PM

hussain does not want Mueller on the TV circuit talking about Holder and the WH

georgealbert on May 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Yeah, that too.

petefrt on May 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM

What, did this surprise him? He wasn’t sure when the FBI director was up for replacement and couldn’t have planned accordingly?

It is called a plan. Clearly Obama either doesn’t have one, or does and is simply lying about the reasons for this. Without a better explanation, this request should be denied.

The reasons for the limited tenure of the FBI director are valid and it should require something better than, I forgot he was up when I decided to replace the Pentagon with the CIA director and therefore have to replace CIA too.

BroncoGuy on May 12, 2011 at 1:47 PM

…it might just be that Holder will be looking to spend more time with his family soon.

I think he will have to be dragged out, kicking and screaming.

But I could be wrong. It might only take a fistful of money to convince him.

novaculus on May 12, 2011 at 1:55 PM

He needs to nominate someone because, once the rule gets bent for Mueller, someone will use that as precedent to bend the rules either for FBI director again or for another job.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find a credible candidate to put up there, as the FBI director is supposed to be a *law enforcement officer* and not a political hack.

If they can find someone who knows their head from their *ss and doesn’t have clear red flags, like 99% of his OTHER nominees, it shouldn’t be a problem to get them through the Senate.

teke184 on May 12, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Still, it does seem a little like punting

Barry excels at kicking the can down the road.

And the MSM dutifully praises his “gutsy” decisions.

GarandFan on May 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Has Meuller not been grooming or mentoring someone to take his place? Surely there is a pool of worthy candidates that would take the politics out of this decision.

onlineanalyst on May 12, 2011 at 9:35 PM