Welcome!
2017-05-14 11:16:03
What’s Next for Comey? Probably Not ‘a Normal Job’

Few can boast of a résumé like James B. Comey’s: top federal prosecutor, chief lawyer for both the world’s largest defense contractor and the world’s biggest hedge fund, and most recently director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There’s just one problem: He was fired by President Trump, who has called him a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”

So where does Mr. Comey go next?

The next act for a former top government official is typically a large financial firm, corporation or law firm. And those jobs, as well as teaching, remain strong possibilities for Mr. Comey. Still, his firing and the furor over his impact on last year’s presidential election could give some potential employers pause.

The same is not true for literary agents and publicists who try to get clients on the speaking circuit — the more controversial the better. And Mr. Comey brings with him plenty of controversy.

“I don’t know what his next job will be, but I can tell you there is a really big book in Comey if Comey wants to write about the facts,” said Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, the literary agency.

If Mr. Comey writes a book, he will not be the first F.B.I. director to do so. Louis J. Freeh, who ran the F.B.I. for nearly eight years, wrote a memoir, “My F.B.I.: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror.”

Matt Latimer, a founder of the Javelin literary agency and communications firms, has already contacted Mr. Comey. Mr. Latimer said that he had not heard back, but that his pitch to the former F.B.I. director was to consider the many opportunities available to him as a speaker, a television personality or expert, and an author.

One issue for Mr. Comey may be how much he can discuss the F.B.I.’s investigation into the private email server maintained by Hillary Clinton as well as his decision to send a letter to Congress about the investigation days before the election.

He may be even more constrained discussing the investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian hacking into Democratic campaign emails.

Former F.B.I. employees must have their books reviewed by the bureau for classified information.

“It was straightforward,” Ali H. Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent who has written two books, one that was published in 2011 and another last month, said of the process. “It wasn’t complicated. On the director level, you usually don’t have a problem.”

Mr. Comey did not respond to a request for comment.

Not every potential employer would have qualms about hiring Mr. Comey. Indeed, being fired by Mr. Trump is a badge of honor in some quarters. And while Mr. Comey might not be a candidate to lobby the current administration, his experience with financial crime and cybersecurity would appeal to most Wall Street firms and corporations, recruitment executives said.

Richard Stein, a partner with the Options Group, which recruits for the financial services industry, said Mr. Comey would be an attractive candidate for a Wall Street firm.

”He may be too hot to handle at this moment in time, but when the dust settles, his dance card will be very booked,” Mr. Stein said.

Yet a return to a hedge fund is unlikely. For someone who has worked for the largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, anything else might seem like a step down.

“He is so high profile now that just a normal job is way beneath him,” said Jason Wachtel, a managing partner at JW Michaels & Company, a recruitment firm that specializes in placing lawyers at hedge funds and private equity firms. “Most of the hedge funds aren’t going to be big enough for him.”

And Mr. Comey’s stint at Bridgewater, from 2010 through the end of 2012, may have soured him on hedge funds.

The culture at Bridgewater, led by a billionaire investor, Ray Dalio, is unusual in that all meetings are videotaped and employees are encouraged to openly question — sometimes even berate — one another. Mr. Comey often had the task of investigating internal disputes, some of which became heated.

Mr. Comey has rarely discussed publicly his time at Bridgewater, which Mr. Dalio has said follows the principle of “radical transparency” in employee relations. But at his confirmation hearing in 2013, Mr. Comey did say he would take the values of Bridgewater “and try to spread them as far as I can.”

But Mr. Comey appeared to find its culture difficult. In a video that was removed several months ago from Bridgewater’s website, he is asked about his experience at the firm. He describes how he was taken aback initially at being questioned aggressively by a junior employee.

Still, Mr. Comey, who was brought in in part to oversee employee internal investigations, parted on good terms with Mr. Dalio. On Twitter on Wednesday, Mr. Dalio called Mr. Comey “a man of integrity and a hero” and a person with “high principles operating in a low-principles environment.”

A big law firm is another possibility.

Eric H. Holder Jr., who was attorney general under President Barack Obama, returned to his old stamping grounds at Covington & Burling. But Mr. Comey, who was a partner at McGuireWoods in Richmond, Va., for a short period, does not have such a longstanding relationship.

Most law firms would see Mr. Comey as a big get, said Allan Ripp, a public relations consultant for law firms.

“From a sheer branding perspective, he would be a great hire — even if you bring him in as a counsel and not a partner,” Mr. Ripp said. “There are enforcement practices that would salivate at the chance.”

In the near term, teaching is also an option. Mr. Comey briefly held a senior research post at Columbia Law School after leaving Bridgewater in January 2013.

Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and friend of Mr. Comey’s, who helped woo him to Columbia in 2013, said the former F.B.I. director “would be welcomed back, and he knows it.”

Mr. Richman, who has spoken to Mr. Comey several times since he was fired, said it was too soon to say what Mr. Comey would choose to do next.

He may not be in any rush. Mr. Comey’s overall assets range from $5 million to $14 million, according to his most recent financial disclosure form.