James Comey's decades long career in law enforcement is, by any standard, highly decorated.
He served as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, as deputy U.S. attorney general, then, as the seventh director of the FBI. Along the way, he also had stints in the private sector.
Through it all, he spanned the political spectrum, receiving appointments from Republican and Democratic presidents alike with near-unanimous Senate confirmations, until his dismissal by President Donald Trump in May.
None of this, he now says, would have been possible if not for the three years he spent as a student at the University of Chicago Law School.
He arrived in 1982 as a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary carrying a rather eclectic degree a bachelor of science with a double major in chemistry and religion.
In what was perhaps a foreshadowing of his ability to bridge disparate worlds, his senior thesis focused on two divergent religious figures, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and televangelist Jerry Falwell.
Some classmates remembered him as brilliant but never arrogant. And while Comey's time at the South Side institution coincided with the emergence of a potent conservative movement in law, Comey was driven by a fierce sense of morality, not politics, they say.
"He's about one thing and one thing only, which is doing the right thing," said Chris Gair, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who now works in private practice. "That's always been who he was and is. Everybody says that he's the same guy he was back then, which was do what's right and let the chips fall where they may."
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