CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the FBI office in Chicago was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, and has been interviewed to possibly take over the agency’s reins for now, after former director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump.
A Justice Department official confirmed Michael Anderson, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office, was among four people interviewed as possible interim director as the Trump administration searches for Comey’s permanent replacement.
Anderson has been with the Chicago office since 2015, and has been an FBI agent since 1995.
Trump fired Comey Tuesday evening, calling for “a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”
The president defended his decision Thursday morning, as he hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House.
“He wasn’t doing a good job, very simply. He was not doing a good job,” the president said, insisting the decision to fire Comey had no affect on his meetings with Lavrov.
Lavrov himself seemed surprised at Comey’s firing when asked about it at an earlier appearance with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Was he fired? You’re kidding, you’re kidding,” Lavrov said.
Comey’s removal has prompted criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, coming as the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other top Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia probe. Schumer accused the Trump administration of systematically silencing law enforcement leaders who cross them.
“They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And now they fired Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” he said.
Some Republicans were scathing too. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said on Twitter: “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he was “disappointed” in Comey’s removal, and repeated his call for a special congressional committee to investigate Russian meddling in the election.
“The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee,” McCain said in a statement Tuesday night.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey be fired, saying the director had broken with FBI protocol last year, citing his announcement the FBI had concluded its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and was not seeking criminal charges.
Sources told CBS 2 News the decision to fire Comey was made after he testified on Capitol Hill that he would do it all again.