This episode is one of the more disgraceful in the disgusting history of the Bush administration. Briefly, back in early 2004, Comey was acting Attorney General while Ashcroft was in the hospital with gall bladder issues. At that point, the whole NSA wiretap thing was ordered by Bush, and the office of the Solicitor General decided that it was not legal, so Comey refused to sign off.
That evening, Comey got a call from Mrs. Ashcroft, saying that Alfredo Gonzales, then Bush’s counsel, and Andrew Card, then Bush’s Chief of Staff, were on the way to the hospital to get Ashcroft to sign the paper. Comey raced to the hospital and got there before the dynamic duo; when they arrived, Ashcroft dressed them down and then said, anyway, he Ashcroft wasn’t Attorney General, Comey was. Comey prepared his resignation, as he was told that the program would go forward without his signature. Ashcroft told him to delay until Ashcroft was well enough to also resign. Several other DoJ officials also prepared letters of resignation. This was made known to the White House.
The next day, Comey spoke with the President, and asked him to also speak with Robert Mueller, head of FBI.
He then served as Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice for several months, before becoming FBI Director.
One could safely assume that Mueller told Bush that he would resign also. After those meetings, Bush told Mueller, who was Comey’s subordinate, to tell Comey to “do what’s right.” Over the next two weeks, the program was altered sufficiently to make it at least acceptable, and it was signed.
An exceedingly sleazy bit of behavior by Gonzales, Card, and the White House.
Firedoglake has virtual transcripts.