DALLAS – The Trump administration is compiling a list of names of potential people to take over the FBI, after the president fired Director James Comey on Tuesday.
“I've had three calls with the White House in the last couple hours,” said U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Rockwall, on Tuesday evening.
He said he is giving recommendations to the White House, but as the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Ratcliffe insisted he’s not interested in the position himself.
“Not at all,” he told WFAA. “I’m really happy to be where I am serving the people of this district. I think this is an incredible juncture in our history. I think that I have a chance to be part of the most consequential Congress to do things like repealing the Affordable Care Act, the first tax reform in three decades, welfare reform, regulatory reform. These are things I campaigned on and I want to be a part of. I’d be flattered that you’d ask and people might consider it based on my background, but there are better people and I’m going to advocate for those folks.”
Ratcliffe said he suggested that the administration should consider Congressman Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican.
Comey reportedly learned that Trump fired him from television reports as he spoke at a recruiting event in Los Angeles.
"Well, I think it's a surprise to a lot of people. I'm only surprised it didn't happen earlier,” said Ratcliffe.
The president fired Comey for how he handled the Hillary Clinton investigation last summer.
In a recommendation that Trump accepted, the U.S. Department of Justice said, "The director was wrong…" to say the Clinton investigation should be "closed without prosecution."
The FBI gathers evidence. Prosecutors decide whether to file charges.
"Jim Comey was a wonderful prosecutor in his day. But when he became the FBI director he became the lead investigator for the FBI. Investigators don't exercise prosecutorial discretion. You cannot wear both hats. He did that,” explained Ratcliffe.
But Democrats don't buy it.
"It's simply not credible that President Trump fired Comey over his mishandling of Hillary Clinton's campaign. That just doesn't make sense,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project.
"Why did Trump ask Comey to stay on if he had problems with him?" Angle asked.
"The president seems to have engaged in obstruction of justice. This is an FBI that's investigating his campaign's involvement with Russia,” added Angle.
Reaction to Comey’s termination has mostly split down partisan lines.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said he was "surprised" by the decision but that Comey serves at the "pleasure of the president,” according to TheHill.com.
"Obviously, he's been the center of controversy both among Democrats and Republicans at different times. It sounds to me from reading the president's letter that he lost confidence in him."
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz did not immediately offer a comment about Comey’s firing. But the two Republican senators from Arizona disagreed with the president’s decision.
“While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President's decision to remove James Comey from office. James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances. I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee,” said U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
“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,” wrote U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, on Twitter Tuesday night.