President Obama Friday nominated James Comey, a high-level official from President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, as his next director of the FBI, calling him a “relentless” law enforcement leader who is “exceptionally qualified” for the job.

Comey, who served as a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general under Bush, is a registered Republican.

“Jim is exceptionally qualified to handle the full range of challenges faced by today’s FBI, from traditional threats like violence and organized crime to protecting civil rights and children from exploitation to meeting transnational challenges like terrorism and cyber threats,” Obama said during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden Friday.

In addition to his bipartisan credentials, Comey appealed to Obama in that he resisted efforts by Bush’s White House to extend a controversial surveillance program. Obama is now under fire for the widespread collection of Internet and phone data.

“At key moments, when it’s mattered most, he joined [FBI Director Robert Mueller] in standing up for what he believed was right. He was prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong,” Obama said. “As Jim has said, we know that the rule of law sets this nation apart and is its foundation.”

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