President Obama on Friday will nominate James Comey, a high-level official from President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, as his next director of the FBI, a White House official told the Washington Examiner.
Comey, who served as a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general under Bush, is a registered Republican.
“The men and women of the FBI will have the leadership of one of our nation’s most skilled and respected national security and law enforcement professionals,” the White House official said. “In more than two decades as a prosecutor and national security professional, Jim has demonstrated unwavering toughness, integrity, and principle in defending both our security and our values.”
In addition to his bipartisan credentials, Comey appealed to Obama in that he resisted efforts by Bush’s White House to extend a controversial surveillance program. Obama is now under fire for the widespread collection of Internet and phone data.
“In moments of debate and decision, he asks the tough questions and insists on rigorous standards,” the White House official added. “Jim knows what it takes to investigate and enforce the laws of the United States, protect our citizens, and has always done so with the utmost integrity.”
If confirmed, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who has led the FBI for 12 years.
After making a series of second-term nominations that enraged Republicans, Obama’s selection of Comey is likely to draw bipartisan approval on Capitol Hill. It also continues Obama’s trend of appointing Republicans to high-level national security posts.
However, some progressive groups recoiled at the idea of Obama nominating a person so intertwined with the counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration, such as waterboarding and indefinite detention. The FBI nomination has been one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington.
Comey spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor, including a stint as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, before serving as deputy attorney general under Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Comey now teaches at Columbia Law School and recently worked at Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut hedge fund, and for defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
The president is scheduled to make the announcement in an afternoon ceremony Friday, the White House said.