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Officials: Bush 'very impressed' by new FBI chief

President Bush, Robert Mueller
President Bush and new FBI Director Robert Mueller  

By John King
Senior White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush made the decision to nominate Robert Mueller for the post of FBI director after taking extra time to mull his choice because of the 10-year tenure that comes with the post, senior officials said.

Bush met with Mueller in the White House residence last month and "developed a good rapport and was very impressed both by the man and his credentials," according to a senior White House official familiar with the search.

But because of what this official called a "logistics glitch," Bush met with Mueller before his senior advisers had, including Clay Johnson, director of presidential appointments.

So as Mueller went through those meetings, Bush told senior advisers he was comfortable with Mueller but wanted to make sure the White House had "cast a wide enough net" and was "comfortable with the scope of the search."

After meeting again with senior advisers on the issue last week, Bush Thursday settled on Mueller to replace Louis Freeh at the FBI, two officials said.

"Did he take a little extra time here? Yes," the second official said. "Remember this is a 10-year appointment so this could be the first appointment that outlives his presidency even if he serves two terms, so it was worth a little extra thought and consultation."

White House officials said that it was not a crucial factor in the selection, Mueller does enjoy support from key Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California.

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