President Obama on Friday will formally nominate a former high-ranking official in the George W. Bush administration as the nation’s next FBI director, officials said.

74058885_image_1024w James Comey (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

James B. Comey, 52, a former senior Justice Department official, will replace Robert S. Mueller III, who is leaving the agency after a dozen years. Comey’s nomination has been expected since last month when he emerged as the top candidate over Lisa Monaco, a former assistant attorney general who became Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser this year.

In a statement, the White House called Comey “one of our nation’s most skilled and respected national security and law enforcement professionals. In more than 2 decades as a prosecutor and national security professional, Jim has demonstrated unwavering toughness, integrity, and principle in defending both our security and our values.”

Some have viewed Comey's likely nomination as a bipartisan move by a president besieged by Republicans in Congress.

Comey was at the center of some of the most bruising debates over counterterrorism during the Bush administration and established a reputation as a fierce defender of the law and the integrity of the Justice Department regardless of the political pressures of the moment.

Comey, who is married and has five children, left the Justice Department in 2005 and served as a senior vice president and general counsel at the defense contractor Lockheed Martin until 2010. In June 2010, Comey joined Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut-based hedge fund with $75 billion in investments for clients including universities and foreign governments.

He left the hedge fund in January and now teaches national security law at Columbia Law School in New York.