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Senate confirms James Comey as next director of FBI after Rand Paul ends hold

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FBI dir nominee James Comey testifies (Credit: Senate Judiciary Committee)
FBI dir nominee James Comey testifies (Credit: Senate Judiciary Committee)

The US Senate has confirmed James Comey as the next director of the FBI in a 93–1 vote that will see the nominee replace current director Robert Mueller, who has served in the post for 12 years. The vote passed as Senator Rand Paul (R - KY) withdrew a hold he had placed on Comey’s nomination pending questions on the nominee's views on warrantless drone surveillance within the US.

Paul's was the only vote opposing Comey's confirmation

Paul removed his hold today after the FBI responded to his questions regarding the legality of warrantless surveillance, with the bureau largely reiterating earlier points claiming its drone use is consistent with Supreme Court interpretations of Fourth Amendment rights. Speaking to Fox News earlier this month, Paul described the hold as "like the beginning of a filibuster," allowing him to halt the debate on Comey’s confirmation much like he had the nomination of CIA director John Brennan in March. On the Senate floor today, Paul’s was the only vote opposing Comey’s confirmation. Two other senators voted present.

At his Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, Comey said he was opposed to the idea of using drones to exercise lethal force against US citizens on US soil, except in the case of "imminent threats." And while the new FBI director has spoken favorably about mass phone metadata collection such as the Verizon program exposed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, he has also voiced support for whistleblowers, saying they are a "critical element of a functioning democracy."