Two federal judges from the Midwest appear now to be the focus of the Carter administration's search for the new FBI director.
Attorney General Griffin B. Bell took one of the potential candidates, U.S. District Court Judge Frank J. McGarr of Chicago, to the White House yesterday to meet President Carter, a Justice Department spokesman said.
William H. Webster of the Eighty U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis is scheduled to make a similar visit Wednesday.
No other such meetings are planned, sources said.
Bell also sounded out Nashville lawyer James F. Neal for the job, but the lead prosecutor in the Watergate cover-up trial decline to commit himself to serving the full 10-year term, according to sources close to the situation.
The Attorney General has said he hopes to have Carter's approval of a new nominee to replace outgoing FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley before Congress reconvenes next week. Kelley is to retire in mid-February.
Bell has been searching for a candidate to replace U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson of Alabama, who was forced to withdraw because of illness after being nominated last summer.
Sources close to Bell, himself a former federal judge, said he was intent on finding another person with Johnson's reputation for integrity and one who would agree to serve the full term.
Webster, 53, was appointed to the federal bench in 1971 and to the court of appeal in 1973 ny President Nixon. He was U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Missouri in 1960.
McGarr, 56, a Nixon appointee in 1970, had been an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago and an assistant attorney general for Illinois.