An administration official also told The Hill newspaper James Comey will be nominated Friday. The selection was first reported in May.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who became FBI director in September 2001. Though FBI directors are limited to a 10-year term, the Senate extended Mueller's term by an additional two years at Obama's request.
Comey is credited with heading off White House officials who were trying to get a woozy Ashcroft to approve a warrantless surveillance program from his hospital room in 2004.
But the American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern Comey approved waterboarding of terror suspects and the detention of a U.S. citizen without charges on U.S. soil.
After leaving the Bush administration, Comey spent five years at Lockheed Martin as general counsel and senior vice president. He also served as general counsel for Connecticut hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.
Since leaving Bridgewater in early 2013, he's been affiliated with Columbia Law School, Politico said.
"In Jim Comey, the men and women of the FBI will have the leadership of one of our nation's most skilled and respected national security and law enforcement professionals," a White House official told The Hill. "In more than two decades as a prosecutor and national security professional, Jim has demonstrated unwavering toughness, integrity and principle in defending both our security and our values."