In a rebuke to the Justice Department’s current leadership, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey gave high praise to five of the eight prosecutors fired by the department last year when he testified Thursday before a House subcommittee probing the firings.

Comey, who, as the department’s No. 2 from December 2003 until August 2005, directly supervised all 93 U.S. Attorneys, said he was unaware that other Justice officials had begun a formal process to identify U.S. Attorneys for dismissal during his tenure at the department.