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Obama: "I'll keep fighting" to restore FBI sequester cuts

James Comey was formally installed as the seventh director of the FBI Monday in a ceremony at the agency's Washington offices, where he praised the employees for their fidelity, bravery and integrity - the three words of the FBI motto.

President Obama, speaking at the ceremony, used the occasion to call for a reversal of the across-the-board budget cuts mandated by the sequester, which will likely be a part of upcoming budget talks between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill.

"Unfortunately, the resources allotted to [the FBI's mission] have been reduced by sequestration. I'll keep fighting for those resources because our country asks and expects a lot from you, and we should make sure you've got the resources you need to do the job, especially when many of your colleagues put their lives on the line on a daily basis, all to serve and protect our fellow citizens," Mr. Obama said. "The least we can do is make sure you've got the resources for it and that your operations are not disrupted because of politics in this town."

The president also offered his own words of praise for Comey, who he said he selected from a number of top-notch candidates. "What gave me confidence that this was the right man for the job -- and it wasn't his degrees, it wasn't his resume -- it was in talking to him and seeing his amazing family, a sense that this is somebody who knows what's right and what's wrong, and is willing to act on that basis every single day," Mr. Obama said.

He joked that the new FBI director has earned the respect of "folks across the spectrum," telling the story of the time Comey received a note of praise for an award he had received from the New York City Bar Association from a member of a crime family he was prosecuting.

Comey, who was the deputy U.S. attorney general during President George W. Bush's administration, was nominated to replace outgoing director Robert Mueller in June. Mueller served in the role for over a decade, and oversaw the agency's expansion in the post-9/11 era.

During the ceremony, Comey talked about the need for the FBI to maintain its independence from "all political forces or interests in this country."

"It must stand apart from other institutions in American life," Comey said. "At the same time it must be part of the United States Department of Justice and constrained by the rule of law and the checks and balances built into our brilliant design by our nation's founders."

He said he will continue the tradition of having new agent classes visit the Holocaust Museum "so they can see and feel and hear in a palpable way the consequences of abuse of power on a massive, almost unimaginable scale." But he added that he will also add a stop at the new Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial to remind new agents and analysts "of the dangers of becoming untethered to oversight and accountability."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., famously used a 13-hour filibuster todelay Comey's Senate confirmation over concerns about the domestic use of drones. After the FBI responded to Paul's questions, he released the hold and the Senate confirmed Comey by a vote of 93 to 1 (Paul still voted no).

During the Bush administration, Comey gained national attention forthreatening to resign his post because he disagreed with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program.