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President Bush to Name Justice Department Prosecutor New Head of FBI

Aired July 5, 2001 - 10:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get to the other story that is developing this morning: President Bush deciding who he would like to have lead the FBI from now on. And that would be a veteran Justice Department prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Our Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena standing by to tell us more about Mr. Mueller, who I'm sure is familiar to folks in Washington and the Justice Department, but across America probably not, Kelli. So what can you tell us?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right. Definitely not household name, Daryn, but a long and distinguished career in public service dating back to the '70s. Mueller's name surfaced very early in the search for an FBI director and, in fact, has been the only horse in the race for weeks. He is a native New Yorker, a former marine. He has been described as a no nonsense manager, though he does have an ability to get along with both political parties. For example, he is a conservative Republican, but he won the support of Democratic support Barbara Boxer when he was appointed for the post of U.S. attorney in San Francisco by President Clinton in 1998.

He is also said to have won the support of Attorney General John Ashcroft when he was serving as deputy attorney general until Larry Thompson, the man who currently holds that job, was confirmed. He got a strong vote of confidence from Ashcroft and his top aides, who made their recommendation to the White House.

We have been waiting for this announcement for some time. There was some question, we are told by administration sources, as to whether or not Mr. Mueller had enough star power for the job. Apparently the president now convinced that he does -- Daryn?

KAGAN: Yes, what were those reservations? If his name has been around for a while, Kelli, why wasn't he a slam dunk?

ARENA: Well, we have been told by the White House officials that because this is a 10 year appointment the president wanted to be sure that he was getting the right person for the job. Don't forget, Daryn, the FBI has been under major scrutiny because of some recent episodes, number one, but most recently the late emergence of some documents regarding Timothy McVeigh, before that the uncovering of the fact that Robert Hanssen, a 25 year FBI veteran, had been accused of spying for 15 years. So there have been many problems that the FBI has been grappling with. They wanted to make sure that they got the right man for the job.

KAGAN: Yes. If he's confirmed, Robert Mueller has a tough job ahead of him. A lot of people would not envy him taking over the FBI. Kelli Arena in Washington, thank you.

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