New York City’s contrived-rumor factory crafted the notion of Ray Kelly in the running for FBI director almost the moment the job came open.
The prospect can only be rated highly unlikely — even if political observers should never say never after Donald Trump’s improbable election as president.
Kelly, the twice-appointed NYPD commissioner, served in the federal government during the Clinton administration as Customs commissioner and then Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Now 75, Kelly sometimes tweaked FBI pride while police commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a well-known deplorer of Trump.
After the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago, Kelly said federal agents were too slow to inform his department that the suspects talked of attacking Times Square.
“We did express our concerns over the lag,” Kelly said at the time. “We thought it was important to put that information out because the people of New York City deserve to know that.”
During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump sided with Kelly in the public debate over the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. And in 2012, Trump tweeted: “The NYPD has been doing a fantastic job protecting NYC. I hope Chief Ray Kelly is strongly considering running for mayor.”
But Kelly has long been committed to gun-control measures that Trump resists. In late 2015, Kelly said in a radio interview: “I am concerned about the wholesale increase of people carrying guns. By definition, they are not going to be particularly well-trained.
“Just imagine what the percentage would be if you significantly increased the number of people who had guns and who were not properly trained,” he said. “I don’t think we need more guns on the streets in this city or in this country.”
When he took office in 1994, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close Trump ally, dismissed Kelly as commissioner after his first go-round as top cop under Mayor David Dinkins. Whether this bit of history would matter or not is difficult to say, but Giuliani is believed to have the president’s ear on law enforcement issues.
Ousted FBI Director James Comey seemed to have no problem with Kelly, if that’s any indication. Comey dropped his name when testifying in his 2003 Senate confirmation hearing for deputy U.S. attorney general in the Bush administration.
Comey was asked about racial profiling.
“As I think a very forward-looking law enforcement leader, Ray Kelly, the police commissioner of New York, with whom I work very closely, explained to his troops when he was at Customs, it’s also dumb because you miss the bad guys.”