FBI Director James Comey, who is under a Department of Justice Inspector General investigation for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, has told people he has been asked to stay in his post in the Trump administration, people familiar with the matter said.
Comey is less than four years in to a 10-year term, but his future in the FBI has seemed in question. President Donald Trump had notably declined to say during a post-election interview with “60 Minutes” whether he would retain the FBI director, saying he wanted to meet with Comey first. The two have not met twice since the election.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. A representative in the White House press office said nothing had “been confirmed,” and declined to comment further.
The New York Times first reported the development.
Comey has come under fire from both sides of the political aisle in recent months, especially for his handling of the Clinton email investigation, and he will likely have to walk a political tightrope as the FBI pursues an investigation that intersects with the new administration.
The bureau is continuing to explore Russian hacking and interference in the presidential election that is believed to have been conducted, in part, to help Trump win. Agents are also reportedly looking into allegations that Trump associates or acquaintances might have had improper contact with Russian officials or intermediaries.
Comey also personally told Trump about a dossier that included supposed compromising personal information about the president, people familiar with the matter have said.
Some House Democrats have intensified their criticism of Comey recently, particularly after a closed-door briefing from him and others on Russian interference. They are upset in particular that Comey has refused to publicly confirm or deny whether the bureau was investigating alleged ties between Russia and Trump associates, given his overt actions in the Clinton email case.
In that instance, Comey criticized Clinton at a public press conference announcing he was recommending the case be closed with no charges, and he later revealed in a letter to Congress, less than two weeks before the election, that agents were resuming the probe. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is reviewing Comey’s conduct – which seemed to violate longstanding policies about not taking overt steps in a case so soon before an election – and his probe is expected to last months.
Trump greeted Comey warmly at a White House reception on Sunday, shaking the FBI director’s hand, patting him on the back and remarking, “He’s become more famous than me.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky, Ellen Nakashima, Sari Horwitz