Donald Trump said on Saturday that he could announce a new director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation within a week as the administration considers a shortlist of at least four candidates.
At the weekend attorney-general Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein were due to interview candidates to replace James Comey, who was ousted by Mr Trump in a move critics said was meant to frustrate an FBI probe of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“I think the process is going to go quickly,” Mr Trump told reporters en route to an address at Liberty University on Saturday, saying it was possible a decision could be announced before he travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday.
The candidates include the bureau’s current deputy director Andy McCabe; Republican senator John Cornyn of Texas; Alice Fisher, a white-collar defence attorney and former Department of Justice official; and Michael Garcia, a New York state appeals court judge.
Without mentioning any names, Mr Trump said: “Almost all of [the candidates] are very well known. They’ve been vetted over their lifetime, essentially. But very well known, highly respected, really talented people. And that’s what we want for the FBI.”
The job requires Senate confirmation.
Mr Trump did not mention the Comey firing in his first university commencement address, but he drew parallels with his bid for the White House as he urged students to “challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures”.
On Friday Mr Trump appeared to threaten Mr Comey with the release of tapes of their private conversations as he lashed out at the man he fired as FBI director in a flurry of angry morning tweets.
The US president warned the former agency chief against leaking to the press amid conflicting accounts of the events surrounding his dismissal this week.
“James Comey better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” the president tweeted.