Former Oklahoma Gov. Keating doesn't expect to get FBI top job

From The Oklahoman

by Nolan Clay   Published: May 18, 2017 5:00 AM CDT Updated: May 18, 2017 5:00 AM CDT

 Frank Keating

Frank Keating 

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating was interviewed Wednesday by President Donald Trump for the FBI's top job but said he does not expect to be chosen.

"If they wanted me, I certainly would be honored, but I really don't think that's going to happen," Keating, 73, told The Oklahoman after his interview at the White House.

Keating, a Republican, was identified as one of four candidates being interviewed Wednesday for the position of FBI director.

Trump last week fired James Comey, who had been FBI director since 2013. The abrupt dismissal triggered harsh criticism of the decision, since it came in the midst of an FBI investigation of Russia's meddling into last year's presidential election.

The other candidates are former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and retired FBI official Richard McFeely.

"When I was leaving the White House, Joe Lieberman was going in," Keating said.

Keating said he had a "very, very pleasant" interview with Trump for about 25 minutes in the Oval Office. Also present, he said, were Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"He is, obviously, a great conversationalist," Keating said of the president. "We had a good talk around the table."

Keating said he expects to be a "bridesmaid" in the process, not the bride.

"I would think they would go for somebody who is, you know, a career law enforcement person," he said. "I think they want to make sure that the bureau functions professionally and well.

"Who knows?" he said. "We will see."

Keating was an FBI agent for a few years after getting his law degree in 1969 from the University of Oklahoma. He later was a state legislator and then U.S. attorney in Tulsa.

He has experience in key positions in Washington. He held the No. 3 job at the U.S. Justice Department for a time, overseeing criminal prosecutions. He later held the No. 2 job at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He was elected governor in 1994, getting national acclaim shortly after taking office for his response to the deadly bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

After serving eight years as governor, he became president of a trade association for the insurance industry. He later became president and CEO of the American Bankers Association.

He now lives in Oklahoma City.

He said the attorney general called him Wednesday morning and asked him to go to Washington to be interviewed.

He was interviewed even though he criticized Trump in an opinion piece published last year in the Tulsa World. In that piece, Keating compared comments made by Trump early in the presidential campaign to the rhetoric of a Latin American strongman.

"This is not the rhetoric deserved by a free people," wrote Keating, who at first supported Jeb Bush for president. "In a country rooted in faith, family and freedom, there cannot be them and us. We cannot be held apart by demagoguery and anger."

Keating said Trump asked him during the interview Wednesday about the Tulsa World piece.

"He did bring it up — with a smile," Keating said. "You know, I voted for him. I was very happy he got elected. But I was not there at the start."