Former Connecticut Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position of FBI Director, citing a desire to avoid conflicts of interest after the President Donald Trump retained a partner at Lieberman’s law firm to represent him in ongoing Russia investigations.
Lieberman is senior counsel at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, whose name partner Marc Kasowitz was recently retained by Trump to represent him in matters related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Associated Press reports. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate this matter on May 17.
“I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this nomination,” Lieberman wrote in a letter to President Trump, a copy of which was provided to TIME. “It would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest,” he said.
The White House announced last week that Lieberman was on the short list of people under consideration for FBI Director and that he was interviewing for the position. The permanent position remains vacant after President Trump fired James Comey earlier this month.
The announcement that Lieberman was being considered angered some lawmakers — mainly Democrats — who argued that the position should be given to someone with no history of electoral politics.
“All the voting history, all the party history, whatever it is, I would stay away from it. Stick with the professionals,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin told Politico.
Senator Sherrod Brown critiqued Lieberman for the very that caused him to withdraw his name: his place of employment.
“Look where he works now, a Trump law firm. That tells me a lot,” Brown told Politico.