But Republicans seem to be overstating Lieberman's Democratic support. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) predicted Lieberman would get 100 votes, a near impossibility.
But Lieberman’s relationship with Democrats is damaged. After he left office, he urged senators in his own party to reject Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, infuriating Democrats. And his relationship with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Graham — the trio were known as the “three amigos” — tilted the Senate in a more hawkish direction during the first four years of Obama’s presidency. In 2008, Lieberman endorsed McCain over Obama for president.
“He has a history of angering Democrats and Republicans, which is probably a good experience for being FBI director. But my concern is about someone with a political background. This is a moment for someone with a law enforcement background,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who holds Lieberman’s old seat. “It’s really important to restore people’s faith in the FBI.”
Perhaps most surprising, Lieberman lacks support across the Democratic ideological spectrum. Moderates like McCaskill and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who are up for reelection in 2018 and could face difficult votes if Lieberman is indeed the nominee, are not lobbying for the former centrist Democratic senator.
“Any other time, man, Joe is an excellent, excellent, choice,” Manchin said.
Still, many liberals flat out don't like Lieberman. In an interview, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) fumed about Lieberman’s efforts to undercut more generous Medicare benefits in Obamacare and his relative closeness to Trump. After a monologue on Lieberman's faults, Brown ended by telling a reporter: “That’s all on the record.”
“Joe Lieberman has no real law enforcement credentials. Look where he works now, a Trump law firm. That tells me a lot,” Brown said, referring to the law firm where Lieberman now works that represents Trump.
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Lieberman also opposed a Democratic proposal to extend Medicare to people 55 and older, infuriating liberals. “He’s the reason we lost Medicare at 55 … Couldn’t have had anything to do with the insurance industry lobbying in Hartford. I’m sure Lieberman couldn’t succumb to that,” Brown said sarcastically.
Trump said on Thursday that he’s “very close” on selecting a nominee. Republicans have the votes to confirm him if they stay united. But Lieberman is unlikely to garner a large bipartisan majority, which could fuel accusations that Republicans are politicizing the FBI.
“We ought to stay away from political figures,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “All the voting history, all the party history, whatever it is, I would stay away from it. Stick with the professionals.”
Elana Schor contributed to this report.
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