New FBI Director makes Richmond his first stop

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-10 00:27:09-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Three days after being sworn in as the nation's seventh FBI Director, Jim Comey visited Richmond's field office Monday.

"It's my very first field office visit and I told my staff I wanted it to be to Richmond, Virginia," Comey said.

Comey, a former lead federal prosecutor in the Richmond division of the Eastern District of Virginia from 1996 to 2001, met with local law enforcement officials from across the region including the police chiefs of Henrico, Chesterfield, and Richmond.

"I believe the FBI is a deployed organization, it is a deployed Army and I want to visit a field office and talk to them about their work. And there is no better place that I have lived and worked than Richmond, Virginia," Comey added.

The day long meeting included a period of question and answer with Richmond reporters, who asked the new director a variety of questions relating to local, national, and international issues.

On Governor Bob McDonnell's ongoing federal investigation into gifts received by donor, Comey said he had no comment.

"I can't comment on a pending matter, so I am going to have to end that answer there," Comey said.

On the search for Alexis Murphy, a Nelson County teen who has been missing since early August, Comey says he has been briefed on the case.

"I am familiar with the case and was briefed on it when I became Director," Comey said. "I think that particular case is a great example of everybody pitching in to try and deal with a very difficult case," Comey added.

On sequestration, and possible layoffs at the Richmond FBI office, Comey opened up to reporters.

"I was very surprised to learn the effects of sequestration is having on the FBI," Comey told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

"Not only do I have to lose 3,000 positions, but there is a real prospect that I am going to have to send home for two weeks without pay the good men and women who work in this building behind me who are charged with protecting the American people that makes no sense at all to me," Comey said.

On the criticism agencies like the FBI has faced regarding surveillance, Comey said questions are important.

"I think it is important to ask questions regarding how the government is using its authorities," Comey said. "It is a debate I think is healthy and one I intend to engage in," Comey said.

On the ongoing critisism the FBI has faced regarding the Bengazzi, Libya attacks, the Director indicated his bureau is working tirelessly.

"The men and women of the FBI have worked relentlessly since then to make progress in that case," Comey said.

CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George asked Comey if the criticism has been fair.

"I don't know exactly what the criticism has been but to the extent the criticism the FBI is not working hard enough - that is not right," Comey said.

Henrico Police Chief Douglas Middleton attended the meeting, and told CBS 6 that the region's close relationship with the Director of the FBI, will help law enforcement going forward.

"We are on a first name basis, I couldn't be more excited to hear Jim Comey was going to be Director of the FBI," Middleton said.

Comey was selected by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller. Comey will serve a 10 year term as Director of the FBI.