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Flashback: The Astonishing Testimony Former Bush Official in Line to Head the FBI Gave About Standoff at John Ashcroft's Bedside

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"I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man."

James Comey, the former Bush administration official widely reported to be getting President Barack Obama's nomination to head the FBI, famously testified in 2007 about an astonishing standoff at the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Comey -- acting attorney general during Ashcroft's March 2004 hospitalization -- recalled in enthralling detail how then-White House counsel (and later Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales and President George W. Bush's chief of staff Andrew Card went to Ashcroft's bedside and tried to persuade him to reauthorize the administration's domestic surveillance program after the Justice Department had already determined it was illegal.

"I was angry," Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me."

But Comey said Ashcroft, despite being very ill in the intensive care unit, lifted his head and spoke "rich in both substance and fact" to deny the request -- before adding, “but that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general.”

Watch Comey tell the story below:

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