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James Brien Comey Jr. (/ˈkoʊmi/; 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 was a registered Republican for most of his adult life; however, in 2016, he described himself as unaffiliated.
During the administration of President George W. Bush, Comey was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from January 2002 to December 2003 and later the United States deputy attorney general from December 2003 to August 2005. In August 2005, Comey left the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to become a senior vice president of Lockheed Martin as general counsel. In 2010, he became general counsel at Bridgewater Associates. 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.
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 was highly controversial. Some analysts and some Clinton supporters claim his decisions shortly before the 2016 election might have cost her the presidency, particularly his decision to reopen the investigation into her emails less than two weeks before the election. On June 14, 2018, DOJ inspector general Michael E. Horowitz released his report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, which criticized Comey’s actions during the 2016 election.
President Donald Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017. Statements from Trump and the White House suggested that Comey had been fired to ease the “pressure” Trump was under due to the Russia investigation. Later that month, Comey arranged for a friend to leak to the press a memo he had written after a February 14, 2017 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, various memos detailing meetings with Trump, and Comey’s subsequent Congressional testimony in June that same year were interpreted by some commentators as evidence of obstruction of justice by the president and became part of the Mueller investigation. Inspector General Horowitz found that Comey violated FBI policy regarding the memos, however it was added that there’s “no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the memos to members of the media.” The Department of Justice declined to prosecute Comey. In December 2019, Horowitz released a report finding no political bias against Trump by Comey or other FBI officials.