By Allan Lengel
Top ranking senators said the bill would provide a “one time extension” and would apparently keep the 10-year term limit in place for future directors. Mueller began serving as director in 2001 and was set to step down this September. One co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-Ia.), said he had some mixed feelings given that existing legislation that limits the term to 10-years was put in place for a reason.
President Obama caught many off guard when he announced that he wanted Mueller to stay on past September. Next to J. Edgar Hoover, Mueller is the longest serving director.
The president said he wanted it to keep some continuity. Some applauded the move. But some agents inside the bureau felt it was time for Mueller to move on.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of the Senators who co-sponsored the bill to extend Mueller’s term, said in a statement :
“Bob Mueller has served tirelessly and selflessly for 10 years, and is undoubtedly ready to begin the next phase of his life.”
“But he has characteristically answered duty’s call and indicated his willingness to continue his service. We should fulfill our duty, as well, and join together without delay to secure the continuity and stability that is demanded at this time, and that is needed to keep our country safe.”
Sen. Grassley said he favored the bill, but had some concerns.
“The ten-year term for an FBI director is good for the agency and our country. It was designed to insulate the FBI Director from the political process and ensure that no one Director amass too much power. It has worked for thirty-five years. But, we live in extraordinary times.
” Given the complex and uncertain time we live in, the good work of Director Mueller following September 11, and a heightened alert to terrorist attack following the death of Osama Bin Laden, this one-time statutory exemption that will extend the term of FBI Director Mueller’s term by two years is the right decision. I do this with trepidation, though, because of the constitutional and precedential concerns associated with this action.”
“I look forward to a hearing in the Judiciary Committee so we can address those concerns.”