Joe Lieberman is reportedly the frontrunner to become the next director of the FBI.
This would be a surprising pick, as the role of FBI director generally does not go to a partisan politician. It’s also surprising because Joe Lieberman was a Democrat for many years, serving as Al Gore’s running mate in the 2000 election. However, from 2006 onward, he served as a political independent, and he has been criticized by many Democrats for his conservative tendencies. In fact, he endorsed John McCain for president in 2008.
So what exactly are Joe Lieberman’s political positions, especially when it comes to topics relevant to his potential job of FBI director? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Has Talked About the Importance of Cracking Down on Leaks
Joe Lieberman and Donald Trump may have connected this week over their shared desire to crack down on leaks within the federal government.
After all, Lieberman has spoken frequently about his opinion that the United States needs to be more aggressive about prosecuting those who leak classified information to the media.
“The last person to be convicted of a crime for leaking to the media was more than 25 years ago,” Lieberman told Fox News in 2012. “We’re still using a 1917 Espionage Act that requires some showing of intent and knowledge that a leak would harm the security of the United States.”
Lieberman has also talked about wanting to go after those who publish leaks, specifically taking aim at Wikileaks. In 2010, he introduced the SHIELD (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) Act, which would have amended the Espionage Act to prohibit the publication of “the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community of the United States” or information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government,” according to WIRED.
2. He Was an Advocate for the War in Iraq
Even though he was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman was a strong proponent of the Iraq war during the 2000s.
“The Connecticut Democrat’s strong public defense of Bush’s handling of the Iraq war has provided the White House with an invaluable rejoinder to intensifying criticism from other Democrats,” The Washington Post reported in 2005. “In public statements and a newspaper column, Lieberman has argued that Bush has a strategy for victory in Iraq, has dismissed calls for the president to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, and has warned that it would be a ‘colossal mistake’ for the Democratic leadership to ‘lose its will’ at this critical point in the war.”
He reiterated his support for the war over the years, including in 2006, when he said that the Bush administration should not pull troops out.
“I am not for an open-ended commitment,” he said during his campaign that year, according to The Guardian. “But if we simply give up and pull out, like my opponent wants, then it would be a disaster for Iraqis and for us.”
And Lieberman continues to defend his position on the Iraq war to this day. In 2015, he said that the world is much better off for having invaded Iraq.
“I think the world is a lot better off, not withstanding all the problems in Iraq,” Lieberman told MSNBC in 2015. “I think the world is better off and the region is better off and the people of Iraq are better off.”
3. He Has Fought Against Violent Video Games
Joe Lieberman has over the years fought against violent video games, saying that they cause young people to be violent.
In December 1993, Joe Lieberman helped lead a congressional hearing on violent video games, and the following year, he introduced the Video Game Ratings Act of 1994, which would start a federal commission to create industry-wide regulations. With this threat of government regulations hanging over them, the video game industry established the Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulatory board which is in effect to this day.
Joe Lieberman continues to talk about his belief that video games have a negative impact on youths.
“…I spent enough time on this question of violence, and the entertainment culture, to reach this conclusion, that the violence in the entertainment culture, particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games and movies now, et cetera, does cause vulnerable young men, particularly, to be more violent,” Lieberman told Fox News in 2012. “It doesn’t make everybody more violent. But, it’s a causative factor in some cases.”
4. He Supported the Candidacy of Betsy DeVos
Earlier this year, Joe Lieberman supported the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education.
Lieberman spoke in support of DeVos at DeVos’ confirmation hearing, and Lieberman suggested that those who are opposing DeVos simply don’t like the fact that she comes from outside of the establishment.
“I know some people are questioning her qualifications to be secretary of education. Too many of those questions seem to be based on the fact that she does not come from within the education establishment,” Lieberman said, according to Breitbart. “But, honestly, I believe that today, that is one of the most important qualifications you can have for the job.”
5. He Said He Supports Creating a Special Commission in the Trump Russia Probe
Just a few weeks ago, Joe Lieberman said he was in support of appointing a special commission to look into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.
“I don’t know – I hate to say this as a former member of Congress – that any Congressional committee can give this a credible investigation without getting into partisan disagreements,” Lieberman said in an interview with Larry King.
Lieberman went on to say that for a public to really believe an investigation, there should be a commission put together, similar to the commission which looked into 9/11.
In that same interview, Joe Lieberman said that Russia did try to meddle in the election, but he was wary to call it an act of war.
“That’s shocking. What do we do about it? Do we fight back in cyberspace? …What do you do about it? I don’t think there’s any recourse that would, for instance, lead to the removal of President Trump from office,” he said. “The election is a historical fact. But if we conclude that the Russians really did meddle, and of course if there’s any proof that there’s collusion by people in the Trump administration, that would be a real threat….”