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Trump may consider Kobach, Bondi for attorney general

Anita Kumar and Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump launched a search for a new attorney general Wednesday with immediate recommendations to consider several high-profile officials, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and retiring Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. Sessions had long been a target of Trump's ire for recusing himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions had been a campaign aide to Trump in 2016.

Trump considered Kobach, architect of one of the nation's toughest immigration laws, for various jobs at the start of his term but some aides did not think he could be confirmed by the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.

At a rally in Topeka earlier this year, Trump talked about his affection for Kobach, whom he endorsed for governor. "So a man that's been with me from the beginning, he's tough, he's strong and I hated that he ran because I would have loved to have brought him into my administration, effectively loses, I'll bring him into my administration in two seconds," he said. "I hope he loses because I want him so badly. But don't do that."

Trump appointed Kobach to lead his presidential commission into voter fraud, which was eventually disbanded after states refused to turn over data.

Kobach's campaign manager, J.R. Claeys, said Kobach, who lost his bid to become governor Tuesday, is "well-suited" to become attorney general.

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"It does make complete sense," Claeys said. "I haven't had any discussions with him where this has come up ... just knowing Kris as well as I do now, and knowing his history and knowing his relationship with the president and the trust he has from the president, I think it's definitely a possibility."

Bondi, who is term-limited, will be replaced by former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, who was elected Tuesday. Her office declined to comment.

Trump immediately named Matthew Whitaker, who had been Sessions' chief of staff at the Justice Department and served as U.S. attorney in Iowa, as acting attorney general.

In Whitaker, Trump gets a partisan warrior. He has been the director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a nonprofit organization that lists its mission as ethics and transparency in government.

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