James Comey

James Brien Comey Jr. born December 14, 1960 is an American lawyer who was the 7th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 2013 until his dismissal in May 2017. Comey had been a registered Republican for most of his adult life but recently described himself as unaffiliated.

James Comey was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from January 2002 to December 2003, and the United States Deputy Attorney General from December 2003 to August 2005 in the administration of President George W. Bush. James Comey appointed Patrick Fitzgerald to be the Special Counsel to head the grand jury investigation into the Plame affair after Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself.

In August 2005, James Comey left the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and became general counsel and senior vice president of Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2010, he became general counsel at Bridgewater Associates, based in Westport, Connecticut. In early 2013, he left Bridgewater to become a Senior Research Scholar and Hertog Fellow on National Security Law at Columbia Law School. He served on the board of directors of HSBC Holdings until July 2013.

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In September 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Comey to the position of Director of the FBI. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the FBI’s investigation of the Hillary Clinton email controversy. His role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, particularly with regard to his public communications, was highly controversial. Many Clinton supporters feel that Comey’s decisions might have cost her the presidency. In one of those decisions, he reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails less than two weeks before the election. Comey also received heavy criticism from Republicans, in part after it was revealed that he had begun drafting an exoneration letter for Clinton before the investigation was complete.

President Donald Trump dismissed Comey on May 9, 2017. Statements from Trump and the White House suggested that he had been dismissed to ease the “pressure” Trump was under due to the Russia investigation. Later that month, Comey arranged for a friend to tell the press about a memo he had written after a February 14 private meeting with the president. It said Trump had asked him to end the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor. The dismissal, the memo, and Comey’s subsequent Congressional testimony were interpreted by some commentators as evidence of obstruction of justice by the President, and became part of a widening investigation by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel appointed to probe Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On June 14, 2018, the DOJ Inspector General released his report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, which criticized Comey’s actions during the 2016 election. The report stated that Comey made “a serious error in judgment” by sending the letter to Congress about the reopening of Clinton’s email investigation, but it found no evidence to support claims by Trump and his supporters that the FBI “rigged the case to clear Clinton”.

James Comey 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. Among his first tasks was to take over the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich. 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 over $3 million. He also led the indictment of Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas for bank fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud. Rigas was convicted of the charges in 2004 and in 2005, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Adelphia Corporation was forced to file for bankruptcy after it acknowledged that it took $3.3 billion in false loans. It was “one of the most elaborate and extensive corporate frauds in United States history”.

In February 2003, James Comey was the lead prosecutor of Martha Stewart, who was indicted on 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. In March 2003, he led the indictment of ImClone CEO Samuel Waksal, who pleaded guilty to avoiding paying $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. In April 2003, he led the indictment of Frank Quattrone, who allegedly urged subordinates in 2000 to destroy evidence sought by investigators looking into his investment banking practices at Credit Suisse First Boston. 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.

President Trump formally dismissed James Comey on May 9, 2017, less than 4 years into his 10-year term as Director of the FBI. Comey first learned of his termination from television news reports that flashed on screen while he was delivering a speech to agents at the Los Angeles Field Office. Sources said he was surprised and caught off guard by the termination. James Comey immediately departed for Washington, D.C., and was forced to cancel his scheduled speech that night at an FBI recruitment event. Trump reportedly called Deputy Director Andrew McCabe the next day, demanding to know why Comey had been allowed to fly back to Washington on an FBI jet after he had been fired.

On May 10, James Comey sent a letter to FBI staff in which he said, “I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.” In the absence of a Senate-confirmed FBI director, McCabe automatically became Acting Director.

Macmillan Publishers’ Flatiron Books announced in August 2017 that it had acquired the rights to James Comey’s first book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, in which he discusses ethics, leadership, and his experience in government. Several publishers had submitted bids in an auction conducted by literary agency Javelin.The release date was moved up from May 1, 2018 to April 17, 2018 because of scrutiny faced by the FBI during the Special Counsel investigation. A month before the book was released, presale orders made it the top seller on Amazon. The boom was attributed to a series of Twitter attacks on Comey by Trump, in which Trump claimed that James Comey “knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” In response James Comey tweeted, “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.” James Comey’s autobiography was well-received, with The New York Times calling it “very persuasive” and describing the book as “absorbing” in its book review, stating “Comey’s memoir offers visceral details on a president untethered to truth.”

Comey confirmed that the Twitter account @projectexile7 (later changed to @formerbu), which uses “Reinhold Niebuhr” as its display name, is operated by him.

In the summer of 2017, Comey gave the convocation speech and a series of lectures at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C. During the fall of 2018, James Comey will return to his alma mater, the College of William & Mary, to teach a course on ethical leadership. He will be an executive professor in education, a nontenured position at the College. Comey will join assistant professor Drew Stelljes to teach the course during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Although Comey was a registered Republican for most of his life, he disclosed during Congressional testimony on July 7, 2016, that he was no longer registered with any party. Comey donated to Senator John McCain’s campaign in the 2008 presidential election and to Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign in the 2012 presidential election. In an interview with ABC News on April 18, 2018, Comey said that the “Republican Party had left him and many others” and that “these people don’t represent anything [he believes] in”. On July 18, 2018, James Comey urged voters to vote for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, criticising the Republican-controlled Congress of being “incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that “Ambition must … counteract ambition.” He added, “Policy differences don’t matter right now.”

James Comey and his wife, Patrice Failor, are the parents of five children, and a son who died in infancy. He has said that he learned to make something good happen after a tragedy.They have also been foster parents. He is of Irish descent and was raised in a Roman Catholic household. Comey subsequently joined the United Methodist Church, and has taught Sunday school. He is 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) tall.


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