Other former Justice Department officials took a different view of Boente’s lengthy government career. They told The Daily Beast that there’s a term for the type of person who stays in high-level DOJ jobs for so long: a survivor. Survivors are the opposites of Comey and Yates, who were fired for making controversial decisions. Survivors, meanwhile, draw criticism for avoiding hard decisions. Former DOJ officials, who didn’t want to criticize Boente on the record, said they were surprised and confused by his willingness to immediately defend the travel ban.

One former official said it looked like a tacit acceptance of the anti-Muslim animus that drove Trump’s birtherism. The travel ban is widely viewed as a watered-down version of the Muslim ban that Trump promised on the campaign trail. The former official expressed dismay that Boente, who was nominated to be U.S. attorney by President Obama, had willingly defended such an order. The perception among some former officials was that Boente was auditioning to keep his position as U.S. attorney. Whether or not that was his hope, it’s what’s happened: Boente didn’t just keep that role; he rose to an even higher post as temporary National Security Division chief.