Report: Joe Lieberman withdraws from consideration to be FBI director

WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has withdrawn from consideration to be the next director of the FBI, citing the potential for an appearance of a conflict of interest, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Lieberman cited his work at a New York law firm headed by Marc Kasowitz, the Journal reported. Kasowitz has been retained by Trump to be his private attorney as a special counsel probes possible ties between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, a source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Lieberman and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Given Kasowitz's role, Lieberman might not have been able to participate in the Russia investigation for a period of two years without a Justice Department waiver, Kathleen Clark, a professor of legal ethics at Washington University School of Law told Reuters on Wednesday.

A federal regulation restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm's clients for one year, a period that was extended to two years under an executive order signed by Trump in January.

Trump told reporters a week ago that he was "very close" to selecting a nominee to replace James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Possible replacements for FBI director James Comey
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Possible replacements for FBI director James Comey

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating  

REUTERS/Adrees Latif AL

FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas 

Former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) 

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

 (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

FBI Criminal Cyber, Response ad Services Branch Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate

Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Former NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers

Photo by Stacie Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Former Prosecutor Michael Garcia

Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Federal Judge Henry Hudson

Photo by Jay Paul for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former head of the Transportation Security Administration John Pistole

Photo by Andrew Burton for Reuters 

Trump fired Comey earlier this month, calling him a "showboat" and "grandstander." That decision set off a political firestorm given Comey's central role in the FBI's probe of potential collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian officials seeking to swing the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.

CNN, citing a unnamed senior administration official, reported on Wednesday that Trump wanted to renew the search for an FBI director to succeed Comey after having interviewed a number of candidates, including Lieberman. (Reporting by Tim Ahmann; additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Doina Chiacu, G Crosse)

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