Comey, a former federal prosecutor and deputy attorney general, is the sort of unconventional choice – someone who’s not a federal appeals-court judge – that key senators, and some administration officials, have been urging President Barack Obama to consider.
Comey has law-and-order credentials and is an authority on national-security cases, yet sees limits to how far government can go, and stood up to the Bush administration when other officials were folding.
Comey threatened to resign as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department because of his objections to the planned domestic-eavesdropping program. He made his case in a private session with President George W. Bush that Comey described in congressional testimony in 2007 as a “full exchange.”
The officials who are impressed by Comey are pushing to have him included on a final list for the president’s consideration. No formal short list is yet on the president’s desk, because choices are still being weighed and vetted, and he has not met all the possibilities.
More than a dozen candidates are under formal consideration, the sources said.
Seven of them, first reported by The Associated Press, are: California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood.
Sources told POLITICO the list is accurate but, as AP said, incomplete. The name of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was floated early, but he is not believed to be under consideration.
Comey was deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Since Oct. 2005, he has been senior vice president and general counsel of Lockheed Martin Corp., the global security company headquartered in Bethesda, Md.
Comey’s official biography says that efore becoming deputy attorney general in Dec. 2003, he “served as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he had earlier been an Assistant U.S. Attorney and lead prosecutor in the highly publicized United States v. John Gambino racketeering and murder trial. From 1996 through 2001, he was Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the Richmond Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia. In that position, he handled the Khobar Towers terrorist bombing case, arising out of the June 1996 attack on a U.S. military facility in Saudi Arabia in which 19 United States Air Force members were killed and hundreds wounded.
“Comey has also worked in commercial litigation, having been a partner with the law firm of McGuireWoods, LLP. He is a 1982 graduate of the College of William & Mary and earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1985.”