President Barack Obama appears ready to nominate James Comey to succeed Robert Mueller as director of the FBI -- an appointment that would be good for at least three reasons.
Mr. Comey, 52, having served as a senior official in the Justice Department of former President George W. Bush, should not attract automatic opposition from Republicans in the Senate as he seeks confirmation. At the moment, those lawmakers, seemingly uninterested in their obligation to do the nation's business, have blocked stacks of Obama nominations to judgeships, senior government posts and even Cabinet positions -- interfering in America's governmental process.
Mr. Comey, although he has on his record the prosecution of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the deputy chief of staff of former Vice President Dick Cheney, for having blown the cover of CIA agent Valerie S. Plame, still has other impressive, Republican-pleasing credentials that should get him past the remaining Cheney extremists in the Senate.
In addition to having been deputy attorney general in Mr. Bush's Department of Justice, Mr. Comey has been a hedge fund executive, which should provide him useful insights into financial dealings which may be worth investigation.
Mr. Comey teaches at Columbia University Law School. As a U.S. attorney he worked on the prosecution of those involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans. He also had a lead role in prosecuting Martha Stewart, WorldCom executives, international drug dealers and others. He gained a reputation for integrity when, as acting attorney general, he thwarted an attempted end-run by the White House in 2004 to obtain the reauthorization of government eavesdropping without court warrants.
The third reason to welcome Mr. Obama's nomination of Mr. Comey is that his likely smooth passage through the Senate confirmation process, based on his profile, will mean that the key job of FBI director will be filled soon. The current director, Mr. Mueller, who has served since 2001, is required by law to leave the post by Sept. 1. FBI director is not a job that even the feckless Senate can afford to leave vacant, given the demands on the FBI, illustrated most recently by the Boston Marathon bomb attack.
The Senate needs to act quickly on this nomination when it is made.