Bloomberg News

Obama Said to Announce Ex-Bush Official Comey for FBI Tomorrow

June 20, 2013

President Barack Obama will announce tomorrow that he’s nominating James Comey, a former deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, as FBI director, according to an administration official.

Obama will make the announcement at the White House, said the official, who asked not to be identified to discuss the matter before it was formally released.

Comey would come to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at a particularly sensitive time, as officials manage inquiries into the Boston Marathon bombings, Internal Revenue Service screening of small-government groups and leaks about confidential government operations.

If confirmed by the Senate, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who stayed on for two years after his 10-year term expired in 2011. Mueller plans to leave in September.

Comey, 52, was general counsel at defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT:US) and then hedge fund Bridgewater Associates LP after he left the government in 2005. Most recently he was appointed to the board of London-based bank HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) as a nonexecutive director.

He was selected as Obama’s choice to lead the FBI over Lisa Monaco, White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, who coordinated the administration’s response to the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon and previously worked as chief of staff to Mueller.

Republican lawmakers have signaled that Comey will not face a tough confirmation battle.

Wiretapping Debate

Comey’s role in a dramatic episode during President George W. Bush’s administration -- when he refused to reauthorized a warrantless eavesdropping program after being pressured by White House officials -- has won him support among Democrats in Congress as well.

At the time, Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized, and Bush’s White House advisers were attempting to persuade him to reauthorize the program. Comey, with Mueller, went to his hospital room to intercept the White House aides seeking Ashcroft’s approval. Ashcroft said he had concerns about the legality of the plan and deferred the decision to Comey, who refused the request.

In testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, Comey called the experience “the most difficult time in my professional life.”

The program was revised after Comey, Mueller and other top Justice Department officials threatened to resign if it was reauthorized without their sign-off.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Washington at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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