WASHINGTON — Former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, once President Trump’s preferred candidate for F.B.I. director, has withdrawn his name from consideration, citing his law firm’s central role in Mr. Trump’s legal defense team.
Mr. Lieberman, who has no federal law enforcement experience, said it was a “great honor” to be considered but pulled out after the president tapped Marc Kasowitz, a partner in the Manhattan firm that employs Mr. Lieberman, as his counsel in “various” investigations.
“I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, given my role as senior counsel,” Mr. Lieberman, who was as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, wrote in a letter to the White House dated Wednesday and provided by his firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres.
The withdrawal of Mr. Lieberman, 75, had been expected for several days. He fell out of consideration after objections from several Trump aides, who urged the president to pick a younger candidate with deeper connections to the F.B.I., which has suffered low morale since Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal this month of the former director, James B. Comey.
The president bonded with Mr. Lieberman during their interactions and told aides he wanted to select him for the job before leaving last week on his nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, his first travel abroad as president.But several of his top aides, including Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, urged the president to delay and consider a wider range of potential nominees.
Mr. Trump, recognizing the sensitivity of the decision in the wake of revelations that he had pressured Mr. Comey to drop investigations into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives, reluctantly assented, according to two administration officials.
Mr. Trump tapped Mr. Kasowitz, his friend and personal attorney, this week to represent him in congressional and F.B.I. inquiries, the officials said.
Mr. Lieberman, who served in the Senate as both a Democrat and an independent, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.