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A short list for replacing Comey

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether President Donald Trump recorded discussions with former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, after Trump tweeted an implication on Friday that such recordings exist. (EPA and AP photos)

For almost a year now we have heard leaders from both sides of the aisle express the need for a change of leadership at America's federal law enforcement agency. But we should not let the breathless speculation surrounding the circumstances of FBI Director James Comey's firing draw attention away from the importance of having the most qualified person leading the FBI.

Serious journalists and investigators will take their time to uncover the facts. In the meantime, careful consideration needs to be given to Mr. Comey's replacement. To keep a difficult situation from getting worse, to keep terrorists from harming Americans, to lock up those who prey on our fellow citizens and to hold elected officials accountable, the FBI needs the best leadership available.

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There are at least three individuals President Donald Trump could nominate today who can not only do the job effectively but also end the hysteria, restore the reputation of the FBI and keep the agency hard-charging on truth and justice. Patrick Fitzgerald, Mythili Raman or John Carlin would each instantly bring the type of integrity, independence, experience and leadership the FBI and America need.

Mr. Fitzgerald, Chicago's longest serving U.S. attorney now in private practice there, is one of the few former prosecutors in the nation who would command the legal, law enforcement and public respect necessary to right the ship. Known as "Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree," he put two governors in jail, one from each political party. And he built his reputation adeptly handling other high-profile politically charged cases, such as the prosecution of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, as well as major terrorism and organized crime cases.

Ms. Raman, another longtime federal prosecutor, held a series of high-level Justice Department leadership positions during the Bush and Obama administrations. She capped an 18-year career at the Department of Justice as the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, overseeing the department's national and international criminal law enforcement initiatives. While lacking Mr. Fitzgerald's headline grabbing name, Ms. Raman has seen America's law enforcement from almost every angle, and would make history with more than her steady and innovative leadership as the first woman FBI director in the nation's history.

For his part, Mr. Carlin, the Boston Marathon bombing cases prosecutor, has served as a top-level justice official with both Republican and Democratic administrations as well. He would bring a strong background in national security, having served during the Obama Administration as the Justice Department's highest-ranking national security lawyer. He also knows the FBI, holding high-ranking roles, including chief of staff, for FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Mr. Fitzgerald, Ms. Raman or Mr. Carlin's leadership at the FBI would allow the nation to turn the page toward a better chapter at the FBI — and restore the public's faith in its work and its mission. They would calm the political firestorm. They would also likely sail to confirmation — if Democrats do not condition any vote on the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the administration's Russian ties.

And they shouldn't. As we've seen in Maryland, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has the independence to see any investigation through to its conclusion. Just on Wednesday, no less than Maryland's Democratic firebrand Rep. Elijah Cummings said he thinks "the world" of the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, who served eight years under President Barack Obama and four under President George W. Bush, who nominated him in 2005. And Mr. Rosenstein has previously received praise during his confirmation process from other Democratic leaders, such as former Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who hailed him as a "man of character" and "experienced leadership."

The American people do not need another spectacle getting in the way of progress for their lives and for our country. But we do need an FBI director of unimpeachable character and integrity. Mr. Fitzgerald, Ms. Raman and Mr. Carlin fit the bill.

Chrys Kefalas is a former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, a speechwriter to Attorney General Eric Holder (a Democrat) and a counsel to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

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