Expected FBI nominee James Comey is not exactly what you would call a “yes man”–a reputation that could net him sharp scrutiny from both sides of the aisle should his nomination head into the blistering confirmation process.
As acting attorney general in 2004, Comey dramatically defied Vice President Dick Cheney, and alerted President Bush that his administration was breaking the law with its terrorist surveillance program, code-named Stellar Wind.
Now, as word spreads of President Obama’s intention to nominate the 52-year-old registered Republican to succeed Robert S. Mueller III as FBI Director, Comey’s still-unconfirmed nomination is already drawing some heat from members of his own party.
“I appreciate…that Mr. Comey has a lot of experience on national security issues, which is one of the most important focuses for the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11, and has shown integrity in dealing with these matters,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee that would consider Comey’s nomination. “But, if he’s nominated, he would have to answer questions about his recent work in the hedge fund industry. The administration’s efforts to criminally prosecute Wall Street for its part in the economic downturn have been abysmal, and his agency would have to help build the case against some of his colleagues in this lucrative industry.”
Comey left the Justice Department in 2005 to become the general counsel at Lockheed Martin, before joining Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut-based hedge fund, in 2010.
While Republican and Democratic congressional aides said they didn’t see any “looming problems” with the likely FBI nominee, reports the Associated Press, Grassley’s comments indicate that Comey will face tough questions about his history–both in the private sector, and in the Justice Department.
“[James Comey] is one of the few men–maybe one of the only men–who’s ever walked into the Oval Office, and told the president that he was breaking the law,” said Dafna Linzer, managing editor for msnbc.com. “So, you can see, there’s definitely going to be some pushback from the Republicans.”
Watch host Thomas Roberts discuss the latest on this story with Friday’s Agenda panel: msnbc.com’s Dafna Linzer, Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar, and the New Republic’s Alec MacGillis.