GOP senator defends Sessions's role in finding next FBI director

GOP senator defends Sessions's role in finding next FBI director
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeRocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill Overnight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism Four Senate conservatives say they oppose ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Utah) on Sunday defended Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Grassley: Comey must say if FBI investigated Sessions Gingrich: Media was right, special elections were a referendum MORE’s role in finding James Comey’s replacement as FBI director.

“I completely disagree with the suggestion that [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] has to detach himself from the process of finding an FBI director,” Lee told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” in response to a Democratic senator's comments earlier on the show advocating that Sessions step back from the search process.

“As attorney general, he’ll be working with the FBI director in a whole lot of cases, involving a whole lot of matters that have nothing to do with anything as to which Attorney General Sessions has recused himself, so I completely disagree. I couldn’t disagree more with that suggestion,” Lee continued.

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Democrats have criticized Sessions for first recusing himself from the Russia investigation and then inserting himself with a recommendation to President Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey amid the probe.

Sessions has met with eight possible candidates to fill the role, which was vacated Tuesday following Comey's dismissal.

Lee praised the list of eight candidates and reiterated his support for Judge Merrick Garland to be considered for the directorship.

“It looks like a good list. I agree that it needs to be someone with a lot of credibility in law enforcement, it is one of the reasons I suggested Merrick Garland the other day,” he said.

Then-President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel OPINION: Trump’s bluff: Perfectly legal Overnight Regulation: Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief | FCC proposes 2M fine on robocaller | Yellowstone grizzly loses endangered protection MORE nominated Garland to the Supreme Court last year, but Republicans blocked his nomination.

Lee’s initial support of Garland as FBI director last week came as a shock to many.

“I think it is a great suggestion, I’m absolutely serious about it. This is a very different post than putting him on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Lee said on Sunday, praising Garland’s prosecutorial experience.

Lee said Garland would receive bipartisan support, which is an important factor for the FBI role.