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James Comey

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James Comey

James Comey
7th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Assumed office
September 4, 2013
President Barack Obama
Deputy Sean M. Joyce
Mark F. Giuliano
Preceded by Robert Mueller
United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
December 9, 2003 – August 15, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Larry Thompson
Succeeded by Robert McCallum (Acting)
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
In office
January 7, 2002 – December 15, 2003
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Mary Jo White
Succeeded by David Kelley
Personal details
Born James Brien Comey, Jr.
(1960-12-14) December 14, 1960
Yonkers, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater College of William and Mary
University of Chicago Law School
Religion Catholic[1]

James Brien Comey, Jr. (born December 14, 1960) is the seventh and current director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He was the

In December 2003, as Deputy Attorney General, Comey appointed the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, close friend and former colleague Patrick Fitzgerald, as Special Counsel to head the CIA leak grand jury investigation after Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself. In August 2005, Comey left the DOJ and he became General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Lockheed Martin. In 2010, he became General Counsel at Bridgewater Associates. In early 2013, he left Bridgewater to become Senior Research Scholar and Hertog Fellow on National Security Law at Columbia Law School. He also joined the London-based board of directors of HSBC Holdings.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early career (1985–2001) 2
  • Bush years (2002–2005) 3
    • U.S. Attorney 3.1
    • Deputy Attorney General 3.2
      • Martha Stewart case 3.2.1
      • NSA domestic wiretapping 3.2.2
  • Post-Bush years (2005–present) 4
    • Testimony before congressional committees 4.1
    • Supreme Court consideration 4.2
    • Same-sex marriage 4.3
    • FBI nomination 4.4
  • Government surveillance oversight 5
  • Personal life 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life and education

Born in Yonkers, New York, Comey grew up in Allendale, New Jersey.[2] He attended Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale.[3] Comey graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1982, majoring in chemistry and religion. His senior thesis analyzed the liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and the conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell, emphasizing their common belief in public action.[4] He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985.

Early career (1985–2001)

After law school, Comey served as a law clerk for then-United States District Judge John M. Walker, Jr. in Manhattan. Then, he was an associate for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in their New York Office. He joined the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where he worked from 1987 to 1993. While there, he served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. He helped prosecute the Gambino crime family.

From 1996-2001, Comey served as Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the Richmond Division of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was the lead prosecutor in the case concerning the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.[5] While in Richmond, Comey served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law.[6]

Bush years (2002–2005)

U.S. Attorney

He was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, from January 2002 to the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney General on December 11, 2003.[6] In November 2002, he led the prosecution of three men involved in one of the largest identity fraud cases in American history. The fraud had lasted two years and resulted in thousands of people across the country collectively losing well over $3 million.[7] He also led the indictment of Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas of bank fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud. His sons: Timothy J. Rigas and Michael J. Rigas as well as executives James Brown and Michael Mulcahey were also charged with participation in these crimes. Rigas was convicted of the charges in the summer of 2004 and on June 27, 2005, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Adelphia Corporation was forced to file for bankruptcy after it acknowledged it took $3.1 billion in false loans. It was "one of the most elaborate and extensive corporate frauds in United States history."[8]

In February 2003, Comey led the prosecution of Martha Stewart who was considered for the charges of securities fraud, obstruction of justice, and lying to an FBI agent. She sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems, making $227,824. The next day, the Food and Drug Administration refused to accept the company's application for Erbitux.[9] In March 2003, he led the indictment of ImClone CEO Samuel Waksal, who pled guilty to avoiding to pay $1.2 million in sales taxes on $15 million worth of contemporary paintings. The works were by Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, and Willem de Kooning.[10] In April 2003, he led the indictment of Frank Quattrone. It was alleged that in 2000, he urged subordinates to destroy evidence sought by investigators looking into his investment banking practices at Credit Suisse First Boston.[11] In November 2003, he led the prosecutions in "Operation Wooden Nickel", which resulted in complaints and indictments against 47 people involved in foreign exchange trading scams.[12]

Deputy Attorney General

Comey's official portrait as Deputy Attorney General

Martha Stewart case

Comey is credited as the main prosecutor in Martha Stewart's 2004 conviction for obstruction of justice, stating, "This criminal case is about lying—lying to the FBI, lying to the SEC, lying to investors."[13]

NSA domestic wiretapping

In early January 2006, The New York Times, as part of its investigation into domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency, reported that Comey, who was Acting Attorney General during the March 2004 surgical hospitalization of John Ashcroft, refused to "certify" the legality of central aspects of the NSA program at that time. The certification was required under existing White House procedures to continue the program.[14]

After Comey's refusal, the newspaper reported,

Government offices
Preceded by
Robert Mueller
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Justice Farewell Address
  • James B. Comey White House Biography]
  • New York Magazine, October 2003
  • James B. Comey Professional Biography, United States Department of Justice
  • Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, "Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program", New York Times, January 1, 2006
  • "Palace Revolt", Newsweek, February 6, 2006
  • "Former Supervisor Extols Fired Prosecutors", Washington Post, May 4, 2007
  • "Loyal to Bush but Big Thorn in Republicans’ Side", New York Times, May 17, 2007
  • Transcript of James Comey's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, May 15, 2007
  • "Intelligence Under the Law", a speech delivered by James Comey to the National Security Agency on Law Day, May 20, 2005
  • January 1, 2008 Corporate Counsel article - "Attention Must Be Paid"
  • Profile on Columbia Law School

External links

  • Ackerman, Spencer. "James Comey remained at Justice Department as monitoring went on." The Guardian. June 27, 2013.
  • Murphy, Laura. "Let's check James Comey's Bush years record before he becomes FBI director." The Guardian. Friday June 21, 2013.

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ McCaffrey, Shannon. "For new deputy attorney general, a department under fire", The Boston Globe, December 14, 2003. Accessed August 21, 2011. "As a teenager, he got a frightening taste of what it's like to be a crime victim when an intruder broke into his home in Allendale, N. J., while his parents were out and held his brother and him hostage at gunpoint. The captor fled and never was apprehended."
  3. ^ Weiser, Benjamin. "Man in the News; Reputation for Tenacity; James Brien Comey", The New York Times, December 2, 2011. Accessed August 21, 2011. "EDUCATION: Northern Highlands Regional High School, Allendale, N.J.; B.S., College of William and Mary; J.D., University of Chicago Law School."
  4. ^ "Mr. Comey Goes To Washington", New York magazine, October 2003. Retrieved May 21, 2007.
  5. ^ "a-worthy-new-york-prosecutor", Op-Ed, New York Times, December 1, 2001.
  6. ^ a b Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey The White House. (no date). Retrieved May 18, 2007.
  7. ^, 2002/11.
  8. ^ "adelphia-indict",, 2002-09-23.
  9. ^ "martha",, 2003/02/06.
  10. ^ "waksal",, 2003-03-03.
  11. ^ "quattrone",, 2003/04/23.
  12. ^ "forex_031119",, 2003/11/19.
  13. ^ "Prosecuting Martha Stewart: The overview", New York Times, June 5, 2003
  14. ^ a b LIchtblau, Eric; Risen, James (January 1, 2006). "Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program". New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2010. 
  15. ^ Comey Senate Judiciary Committee Transcript, May 16, 2007. Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  16. ^ Isikoff, Michael; Evan Thomas (June 4, 2007). "Bush's Monica Problem: Gonzales, the president's lawyer and Texas buddy, is twisting slowly in the wind, facing a vote of no confidence from the Senate". Newsweek (The Washington Post Company). Archived from the original on 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  17. ^ (Editorial) (May 16, 2006). "Mr. Comey's Tale: A standoff at a hospital bedside speaks volumes about Attorney General Gonzales.". Washington Post. pp. A14. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  18. ^ Eggen, Dan; Amy Goldstein (May 18, 2007). "No-Confidence Vote Sought on Gonzales". Washington Post. pp. A03. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  19. ^ Congressional Quarterly (May 15, 2007). Transcript: Senate Judiciary Hearing "Senate Hearing on U.S. Attorney Firings (Transcript, Part 1 of 5)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  20. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (January 2, 2006). "Bush Defends Spy Program and Denies Misleading Public". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  21. ^ Eggen, Dan (August 17, 2007). "FBI Director's Notes Contradict Gonzales's Version Of Ashcroft Visit". Washington Post. 
  22. ^ Eggen, Dan; Kane, Paul (May 16, 2007). "Gonzales Hospital Episode Detailed". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  23. ^ Carrie Johnson, Griff Witte (August 8, 2005). "Lockheed Puts Faith In Tough Lawyer". 
  24. ^ "Lockheed Martin Names James B. Comey General Counsel; Succeeds Frank H. Menaker, Who Will Retire". August 4, 2005. 
  25. ^ David Johnston (June 2, 2010). "Comey Leaving Lockheed for Hedge Fund". 
  26. ^  
  27. ^ Howard Mustoe (January 30, 2013). "HSBC Hires Tax, Anti-Terror Chiefs for Controls Panel". 
  28. ^ Aruna Viswanatha, Brett Wolf (December 11, 2013). "HSBC to pay $1.9 billion U.S. fine in money-laundering case". 
  29. ^ "HSBC money laundering report: Key findings HSBC operates in more than 80 countries around the world Failure after failure at HSBC led to the London-based bank being used as a conduit for "drug kingpins and rogue nations", a 300-page report compiled for a US Senate committee and has found.". December 11, 2012. 
  30. ^ Lesley Clark;  
  31. ^ a b James B. Comey. Testimony Transcript. Hearing of the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. House Committee on the Judiciary. May 3, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2007.
    (Congressional Quarterly transcripts, via the Washington Post.)
  32. ^ "James Comey pushed for Supreme Court",, May 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2009
  33. ^ "Some on left souring on Obama",, May 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  34. ^ "the-pro-freedom-republicans-are-coming-131-sign-gay-marriage-brief",, 2013/02/28.
  35. ^  
  36. ^ Steve Holland (May 29, 2013). "Obama expected to pick James Comey as next FBI chief: source". 
  37. ^ Pickler, Nedra, "Obama's FBI pick: James Comey, challenged wiretapping by Bush White House", AP via, June 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  38. ^ "Obama-to-pick-james-b-comey-to-lead-fbi", New York Times, May 30, 2013.
  39. ^ "AP Sources: Obama Preparing To Name Comey To FBI", AP via NPR, May 29, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  40. ^ 5:32 PM (2013-07-29). "Now voting on confirmation of Comey nomination (FBI)". Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  41. ^ "FBI — James B. Comey Sworn in as FBI Director". 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  42. ^ Ackerman, Spencer. "James Comey defends US surveillance practices at FBI confirmation hearing", The Guardian. July 9, 2013; retrieved July 10, 2013.
  43. ^ Gage, Beverly (November 11, 2014). "What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals". New York Times. 
  44. ^ Profile,; accessed October 5, 2014.
  45. ^ Profile,; accessed October 5, 2014.
  46. ^ Sarlay, Benjy (June 21, 2013). "James Comey (6"8) supplants Arne Duncan (6"5) as Official Administration Tall Person". Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  47. ^ Harmacinski, Jill. "FBI Director: Agency working to choke off supply of heroin". Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  48. ^ "james-comey-fbi",, 2013/05.


Comey is a registered Republican who donated to U.S. Senator John McCain’s campaign in the 2008 presidential election and to Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 presidential election.[48]

Comey and his wife Patrice are the parents of five children. He is a Roman Catholic of Irish descent.[44][45] At 6' 8", he is the tallest member of the Obama administration,[46] and the tallest FBI director in history.[47]

Personal life

In his July 2013 FBI confirmation hearing, Comey said that the oversight mechanisms of the U.S. government have sufficient privacy protections.[42] In a November 2014 New York Times Magazine article, historian Beverly Gage reported that Comey keeps on his desk a copy of the FBI request to wiretap Martin Luther King, Jr., "as an reminder of the bureau's capacity to do wrong." [43]

Government surveillance oversight

Comey was confirmed by the Senate on July 29, 2013, for a full ten-year term running the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[40] He was sworn in as FBI director at 4:32 pm on September 4, 2013.[41]

In May 2013, it was reported,[35][36] and in June 2013 it was made official, that President Barack Obama would nominate Comey to be the next Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, replacing outgoing director Robert Mueller.[37] Comey was reportedly chosen over finalist Lisa Monaco, who had overseen national security issues at the Justice Department during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.[38][39]

Comey (left), alongside President Barack Obama (center) and outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (right) at Comey's nomination to become the seventh Director of the FBI

FBI nomination

In 2013, Comey was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[34]

Same-sex marriage

Politico reported in May 2009 that White House officials pushed for Comey's inclusion on the short list of names to replace Associate Justice David Souter on the US Supreme Court.[32] Politico later reported liberal activists were upset about the possibility of Comey's name being included. John Brittain of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stated, "[Comey] came in with the Bushies. What makes you think he'd be just an inch or two more to the center than Roberts? I'd be greatly disappointed."[33]

Supreme Court consideration

In May 2007, Comey testified before both the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and the House Judiciary subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on the U.S. Attorney dismissal scandal. His testimony contradicted that of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who said the firings had been due to poor performance on the part of some of the dismissed prosecutors. Comey stressed that the Justice Department had to be perceived as nonpartisan and nonpolitical in order to function.[31]

Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

Testimony before congressional committees

In April 2005, Comey announced that he was leaving the Department of Justice in the fall. In August 2005, it was announced that Comey would enter the private sector, becoming the General Counsel and Senior Vice President for Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Department of Defense's largest defense contractor.[23] Comey's tenure took effect on October 1, 2005,.[24] serving in that capacity until June 2, 2010, when he announced he would leave Lockheed Martin to join the senior management committee at Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut based investment management firm.[25] On February 1, 2013, after leaving Bridgewater, he was appointed by Columbia University Law School as a Senior Research Scholar and Hertog Fellow on National Security Law.[26] He was also appointed to the board of directors of the London based financial institution HSBC Holdings,[27] to improve the company's compliance program after its $1.9 billion settlement with the Justice Department for failing to comply with basic due diligence requirements for money laundering regarding Mexican drug cartels and terrorism financing.[28][29] Since 2012, he has also served on the Defense Legal Policy Board.[30]

Post-Bush years (2005–present)

Comey confirmed these events took place (but declined to confirm the specific program) in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 16 May 2007.[15][16][17][18][19][20] FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, like Comey, also supported Ashcroft's decision; both men were prepared to resign if the White House ignored the Department of Justice's legal conclusions on the wiretapping issue. FBI director Mueller's notes on the March 10, 2004, incident, which were released to a House Judiciary committee, confirms that he "Saw [the] AG, John Ashcroft in the room. AG is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."[21] Comey withdrew his threat to resign after meeting directly with President Bush, who gave his support to making changes in the surveillance program.[22]

at the time, Comey went to the hospital to give Ashcroft support to withstand the pressure from the White House. Office of Legal Counsel, who had been head of the Jack Goldsmith According to the 2007 memoir of [14]

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