Senate confirms W&M alumnus Comey ’82 as next FBI director

The U.S. Senate confirmed today the nomination of William & Mary alumnus James B. Comey ’82 to become the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Comey, a former U.S. deputy attorney general known for his prosecution of some of the nation’s highest-profile criminal cases, will replace outgoing Director Robert S. Mueller in September. President Barack Obama nominated Comey on June 21 for the position.

“I make this nomination confident that long after I've left office, our nation’s security will be in good hands with public servants like Jim Comey,” said Obama during a White House press conference.

At the same press conference, Comey joked that he “must be out of (his) mind” to follow Mueller.

“I don't know whether I can fill those shoes,” he said “But I know that however I do, I will be standing truly on the shoulders of a giant, someone who has made a remarkable difference in the life of this country. I can promise you, Mr. President and Mr. Director, that I will do my very best to honor and protect that legacy.”

As news of the nomination spread, William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said that Comey had “made his alma mater enormously proud yet again."

"President Obama has nominated Mr. Comey to lead an agency whose effectiveness and integrity are vitally important to our country,” he said. “Jim's willingness to return to public service in this crucial post is quite wonderful."

Comey, who graduated from William & Mary as a double major in chemistry and religion in 1982, has remained closely connected to the university. Comey spoke at 2003's and 2009's Opening Convocation ceremonies and at the 2008 Charter Day ceremony, where he received an honorary doctor of laws degree. Comey also served on the W&M Alumni Association's Board of Directors from 2008-2012, including serving as vice president from 2009-11. In 2011, the W&M Law School named Comey the Carter O. Lowance Fellow. The fellowship is one of the highest honors conferred by the Law School and W&M in recognition of significant public service.

Between 2003 and 2005, Comey held the second highest position at the Justice Department, serving as Deputy Attorney General of the United States. In that role, Comey was responsible for supervising operations of the Department of Justice, and he chaired the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force and the Presidential Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties. In 2004 while serving as acting attorney general, Comey was in the national spotlight when he challenged the White House over constitutional concerns related to domestic wiretapping.

Mueller, the longest serving director of the FBI since J. Edgar Hoover, also has close ties to the nation’s second-oldest institution of higher education. On May 12, the FBI director gave William & Mary’s 2013 Commencement address and received an honorary doctorate of public service from the university.

In 2011, Mueller’s 10-year term as director of the FBI was ending when President Obama asked that Mueller stay on for two more years.

At the June 21 press conference, Mueller praised the selection of Comey as his successor.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Jim for a number of years in the Department of Justice, and I have found him to be a man of honesty, dedication and integrity,” he said.

“His experience, his judgment, and his strong sense of duty will benefit not only the bureau, but the country as a whole.”