President Obama Nominates James Comey as New FBI Director

Comey will replace Robert Mueller as chief, awaits confirmation by senate.
17:53 | 06/21/13

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Transcript for President Obama Nominates James Comey as New FBI Director
This is this special report from ABC news. I'm Morgan -- in new York and this is an ABC news digital special report. President Obama nominates a new FBI -- today the bureau's first new boss -- week before the 9/11 attacks. If confirmed James -- -- pleased that outgoing Robert Mueller who leaves his post at the end of the summer. -- is best known for standing up to the Bush Administration officials who want to set up a warrantless wiretapping program. Now the White House is hoping -- history working with Democrats and Republicans only a quick confirmation. We're joined now from Washington by ABC news political director Rick Klein Rick how are you. I'm Morgan hi -- can you tell us a bit more about this now legendary clashed with bush officials and then attorney general John ashcroft's hospital room. Legendary indeed administration officials went to ashcroft's hospital or he's recovering from surgery he was deeply -- -- And they asked him to sign off on -- on a secret order that would allow them to construct this warrantless wiretapping. Program not through the auspices of the National Security Agency which of course has been in the news recently. Rick let's let's take a listen -- what president saying he's there at the podium now. For the last twelve years has been an exemplary public service. Bob -- and by law. FBI directors only served for ten years but back in 2011 when. Bob's term was up I asked congress to give him two more years. There was -- requests -- made lightly. And I know -- -- -- lightly but at a time when transitions were underway at the CIA and the Pentagon. And given the threats facing our nation. We felt it was critical to have Bob steady hand and strong leadership at the bureau. Twelve years -- long time do anything. And I guarantee you that Bob's wife and agrees. So in addition asking congress -- -- -- approval from and is well for those extra two years. Today as Bob prepares to complete -- service. This is a wonderful -- -- for all of us as a nation to say. Thank you. To Bob and and but also gives me a chance to announce my choice to be the next director of the FBI Jim call. Every day our FBI special agents analysts and professional staff to vote. And often risk their lives keeping us secure. From the streets of our cities to the battlefield of Afghanistan. They embody the core principles. Fidelity. Bravery and integrity. Bob Mueller has embodied those values through decades of public service and live them. Every day as FBI director during an extraordinary period in our nation's history. Bob some -- war Kroll was sworn in just days before 9/11. And -- not only played a key role in our response to those attacks he began one of the biggest transformations. The FBI. In history. To make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. Like the marine that he's always been Bob never took his eyes off his mission. Under his watch the FBI joined forces with -- intelligence. Military and Homeland Security professionals to break up al-Qaeda cells disrupt their activities and -- their plots. I'll say it as clearly as I can't countless Americans are alive today. And our country is more secure because of the FBI's outstanding work under the leadership of Bob -- All the while Bob and the FBI have been tireless against the whole range of challenges from preventing. Violent crime and reducing gang activity including along our border to cracking down on white collar criminals. Today there are many in the FBI who've never known the bureau without Bob at the Helm. And like us they've admired -- tenacity but also -- calm under pressure his devotion to our security. And his fidelity to the values that make us who we are. To trademark. A tribute to -- trademark humility that most Americans probably one recognized -- street. But all of us are better because of his service. And Bob I can't tell you how personally grateful -- the UN to end. For your service. I know that everyone here joins me -- saying that you'll be remembered as one of the finest. Directors -- in the history the FBI and one of the most -- -- public servants of our time. And I desert just personally. Not only has. It been a pleasure to work with Bob but I know very few people in public life. Who have shown more integrity. More consistently. Under more pressure. The -- I think bubble agreement me when I say that we have. Perfect person to carry on this work and Jim -- A man who stands. A very tall. For justice and the rule of law. I was saying well we're taking pictures -- this is gorgeous family here. That they are all what Michelle calls normal -- The grandson of -- -- worked his way up to leave Bianca as police department. Jim has law enforcement in his -- As a young prosecutor in the US -- office in Manhattan. He helped bring down the Gambino Crime Family. -- a federal prosecutor in Virginia he led an aggressive effort to combat gun violence the reduced Thomas -- -- rates and save lives. He has been relentless whether it's standing up for consumers against corporate fraud or bringing terrorists to justice. And as deputy attorney general he helped lead the Justice Department with skill and wisdom. Meeting threats we know about and staying perpetually prepared for the ones that can emerge suddenly. So Jim is exceptionally qualified to handle the full range of challenges faced by today's FBI. From traditional threats like violence and organized crime. To protecting. Civil rights and children from exploitation. To meeting transnational challenges like terrorism and cyber threats. I just as important as Jim's extraordinary experience as his character. He's talked about how as a young boy -- his brother nearly lost their lives. They were at home and intruder broke in and -- them at gunpoint. Jim understands deeply. In his core of the anguish of victims of crime. What they go through -- and he's made it his life's work to spare others that pain. To know Jim chrome is also know as fierce independence and his deep integrity. Like Bob -- that rarity. In Washington sometimes he doesn't care about politics he only cares about getting the job done. The key moments when it's mattered most. He joined Bob in standing up for what he believed was right. -- is prepared to give up the job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong. As Jim has -- as we know that the rule of law set this nation apart and is its foundation. Jim understands that in time of crisis we are judged solely by how many plots we disrupt or how many criminals we bring to justice. Were also judged by our commitment to the constitution that we sworn to defend. And of the values and civil liberties that we pledged to protect. And as we've seen in recent days this war of striking a balance between our security. But also making sure we are maintaining fidelity. To those values that we cherish is a constant mission. That's who we are. And it is in large part because my confidence. Not only in his experience and his skill but his integrity. That I'm confident that Jim will be a leader who understands how to keep America safe. And stay true to our founding ideals no matter what. The future may bring. So. To Bob and and I want to thank you again for your incredible service. I want to thank Jim. His wife Patrice and their five children were here today marine captain Wayne Kathryn Bryan -- and -- For supporting Jim as he takes on this important role -- -- he couldn't do this without you and he is extraordinarily proud of all of it. And I can see why. This is a ten year assignment. -- 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 Coleman and so -- -- -- perch as usual. For the senate to act promptly -- hearings and to confirm. Our next FBI director. Right away. I'd like now to give. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Always start by thanking you Mr. President for those. Kind words. And I also want to express my gratitude to both President Bush. And President Obama for giving me the honor and the privilege. Of serving as the FBI director -- during these last few years. -- want to take the opportunity -- to thank the men and women of the FBI. It's through their hard work their dedication. There adaptability that the FBI is better able to project predict and to prevent terrorism and crime both here and abroad. Of course or affect my wife and my family for the sport -- patients over the last twelve years. And finally a lot of commend the president for the choice of Jim -- as the next director of the FBI. I have had the opportunity work -- gym. For a number of years in the Department of Justice. And I have found him to be a man of honesty dedication and integrity. His experiences judgment and his strong sense of duty. Will benefit not only the bureau. But the country. As a whole again Mr. President thank you for this opportunity to serve. And thank you Mr. President for this honor in this opportunity. Like I'm not sure -- have the words to describe how excited I am to return to the department justice and especially to get to work again. With the people of the FBI they are men -- women who have devoted their lives to serving and protecting others and I simply can't wait to be their colleagues again. Nearly everything I am and have done in my adult life is due to the great good fortune of marrying up. Thanks to the love and support to an occasional constructive criticism. My beloved troops. My amazing wife Patrice. And -- Claire Brian Kate and Maureen. I -- a much better person than it would have been without you I love you guys -- that I cannot -- you but thank you for that. I must be out of my mind. To be following Bob Mueller. I don't know whether I can fill those shoes but I know that however I do I will be standing truly on the shoulders of -- 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. And I thank you again Mr. President for this chance to serve thank you. Can we give Bob Mueller and then one more big round of applause. Bricks are we had to cut you off -- -- we had to hear the president -- you with us Diana -- great story. -- -- -- You learn I want it ask you about -- you can ask you where he tells us more about the legendary clash this other at his bedside. Administration officials at the bad side. Of of John Ashcroft -- the time the attorney general trying to get him to sign off on a secret order that would -- allowed warrantless wiretaps under the -- to the Bush Administration. Through the National Security Agency and this is where Jim -- -- stepped in and he. He said no dice he convinced Ashcroft -- it's a delay signing it long enough. And then later talk to congress about his passion on this subject he was. Seen it is not technically a whistle blower but but something of of a hero on the left -- putting his foot down under the Bush Administration. He's still though maintain credibility -- -- the value of many Republicans speak highly of them. Annie -- made himself something of a hero on the -- and that's why you have this odd occasion now where. Present Obama the extended bush is FBI director by two years and now means a top bush Justice Department official to be a successor. So Rick how those -- stand against a wireless tapping warrantless wiretapping. Stick with the president's support of that surveillance state has he changed his position. It's all about the warrant because what's different about what the president now is doing vs what President Bush was trying to do. A decade or so ago in the aftermath of 9/11. Is whether you are going to the court together not and ultimately congress expanded some of the authority of the -- support of that secret court. That did it. Issues the orders for those phone records that have been in the news recently so that's an important distinction but I do think is that it on the broader rusher exactly right to point out that this the kind of strident criticism that we heard against some of the aggressive anti terror policies under bush. State of the way under Obama Senator Obama vs president of the bomb on these issues. And I think reaching back to the bush Justice Department to find an official to leave the FBI is another indication of that. Now -- -- also endorsed enhanced interrogation techniques which a lot of people including the president called torture what's the -- over there. That's slightly more problematic in certain. Only need some explanation and discussion inside I anticipate it's going to be one of the items that comes up during. Confirmation hearings for the the fact is that this is an area that that DD one Justice Department under President Bush and one entire legal infrastructure under President Bush. Had a different view want -- -- the current law and the and the policy under President Obama so. There has been a change on that and it is no sense whatsoever of any any backsliding on that present -- -- has made clear enhanced interrogation. -- sometimes called torture. Are off the table -- will not be back on the -- as long as he's president. Right and and just the other day current FBI chief Robert Ehrlich told congress that the actual domestic surveillance drones will come back that policy. Unclear he'll be asked about it because as members of congress on both sides who were very interest in knowing more about the drone policy this is new territory this is new. Since since that episode at the at the bedside of the attorney general decade or so -- so I think that's one of the areas that you know members of congress are gonna wanna hear from -- on. So Rick let's -- our what's the word on the hill will county because our government. Famous last words but he's not gonna have a problem whatsoever that I can see he's got -- broad bipartisan support one of the folks who've been most Republican in in outright support for Chris Christie the Republican governor of New Jersey. Considers call me one of his mentors they worked together. As as US attorney's under the Bush Administration. And you have so many Republicans who think highly of his work he seems to be just an outstanding. Man a dedicated public servant quite -- -- public servants as well the president making light of his height undated photo on normal height of his family clearly -- be the tallest attorney general. And I think you wanna be one of the easiest step to be confirmed as FBI director as well sorry FBI director -- attorney general. -- and Rick also today President Obama meets with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. To discuss NSA surveillance programs what can we expect that come from those discussions. Maybe nothing because it's all private and what of the ironies of this -- to talk about individual privacy and civil liberties and not allowing anyone in the -- to tell you about it obvious statement that comes out of it clearly that this is part of the president's pledge. In the wake of those NSA revelations that. Did have a further discussion and some of the stakeholders in that room clearly -- -- -- the point of view. The president -- city wants a dialogue or for this and open discussion and open debate over privacy and civil liberties he's getting it now. But I I'm just not holding my breath yet to see concrete steps that are shed more light in this program. -- and allow additional oversight as the president has said he believes this to already be transparent with regard to these programs so. He doesn't seem to feel an urgent needs introduce a lot of other daylight. Thanks to Rick Klein ABC news political director your headline today the president has nominated James coming to lead FBI. Beginning in September the bureau's first new -- in September 2001. That was an ABC news digital report I'm Morgan -- and now back to your regular programming. This has been a special report from the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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