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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Reports: Westporter in Line to Become FBI Director

UPDATE Westporter James B. Comey is in line to become the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to officials quoted by numerous media sources late today. WestportNow.com Image
James Comey: Westport resident since 2010. File photo

Comey, 52, moved to Westport in 2010, buying a home in the Greens Farms section when he took a position with Westport-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates as general counsel.

The sources quoted by The New York Times, NPR, Politico, and others, said President Obama plans to nominate the former senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III.

The Times reported the White House declined to discuss Comey today. But according to the two people briefed on the selection, Comey traveled from his Westport home in early May to meet with the president at the White House to discuss the job, the newspaper said. Shortly afterward, Comey was told that he was Obama’s choice, and they met again for a further discussion, the Times said.

Two years ago, Comey went to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to extend the term of Mueller. (See WestportNow June 8, 2011) He said it was not the time to change FBI leadership.

Comey, a Republican, was rumored to be a possible successor to Mueller before reportedly taking himself out of the running to accept the Bridgewater job (see WestportNow May 19, 2011). He left that post earlier this year to teach at Columbia Law School.

Comey is also a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on whose watch the federal government indicted then Westport resident Martha Stewart on charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. His Westport home is little more than a mile from Stewart’s former residence.

Prior to Bridgewater, Comey had been general counsel at Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor, since 2005.

Comey was involved in what later became a highly publicized confrontation with the George Bush White House involving the Justice Department’s refusal to “certify” the legality of certain aspects of what The New York Times reported was alleged domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

He was then Deputy Attorney General and rushed to the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft in March 2004 as White House officials visited the ailing Ashcoft to ask him to sign authorization papers to continue the program.

Mueller appeared at the hospital as well to support Comey and Ashcroft.

Comey later testified before Congress that he had threatened to resign over the matter as did Mueller.

Comey withdrew his threat to resign after meeting directly with President Bush, who gave his support to making changes in the surveillance program.

The FBI job is subject to Senate confirmation, but the director’s post comes by law with an unusual 10-year term designed to help put the agency beyond the reach of politics.

It was because of this that Congress agreed in 2011—with Comey’s urging—to change the law to grant Mueller a two-year extension, which runs out in September.

The Times reported Comey was chosen for the position over the other finalist for the job, Lisa O. Monaco, who has served as the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser since January.

Some Democrats had feared that if the president nominated Monaco — who oversaw national security issues at the Justice Department during the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, last September — Republicans would use the confirmation process as a forum for criticism of the administration’s handling of the attack, the Times said.

Comey graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985 and had a fast rise within the Justice Department. He made an early name for himself overseeing the U.S. attorney’s office in Richmond, Va., where prosecutors made taking guns off the streets a priority.

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Posted 05/29/13 at 11:03 PM  Permalink



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