President Barack Obama announced that he will nominate former George W. Bush Justice Department official James Comey to head the FBI.
Comey previously served under Bush as deputy attorney general from 2003-2005. He has also served as an assistant United States attorney in Manhattan, oversaw the Virginia U.S. attorney’s office where he rolled out a successful gun violence program that drastically reduced Richmond, Va.’s murder rate, and eventually became the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
It was there that Comey tried some of the most high profile criminal cases of his career, including executives involved in WorldCom’s accounting scandal and Martha Stewart‘s (NYSE:MSO) insider trading case.
While serving under Bush, Comey was involved in one of the more memorable dramas of Bush’s administration. In 2004, while Comey was serving as acting Attorney General while John Ashcroft was being treated for pancreatitis, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card attempted to get Ashcroft’s approval for reauthorizing warrantless wiretapping, knowing Comey did not approve of the program.
Comey caught wind of their plan and rushed to the hospital where Ashcroft was being treated. He managed to convince Ashcroft not to reauthorize the plan then and there. Comey and several other Justice officials — including the man he’s replacing as FBI director, Robert Mueller — threatened to resign if the program was renewed later. Eventually, changes were made to the program and the officials stayed on.
Mueller started as FBI director one week before the September 11 attacks. By law, FBI directors are limited to 10-year terms, but Obama sought out and obtained a two-year extension from Congress in 2011.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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