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Tim Weiner

James Comey Understands the FBI Can Say ’No’

James Comey is the grandson of an Irish cop. But it’s not the policeman in his DNA that makes him the right choice to run the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It’s his deep understanding of the power of secret intelligence.

Comey arrived as the No. 2 man at the Justice Department in December 2003, a time of political and constitutional crisis. President George W. Bush had ordered the FBI “to adopt a wartime mentality” after the Sept. 11 attacks, as Bush described it in his memoir. FBI Director Robert Mueller, who had taken office a week before the attacks, had done his best. Now the bureau was going beyond the law in the name of national security.