President Donald Trump will be keeping FBI Director James Comey at the agency, according to a report from the New York Times.
A decision to retain Mr. Comey would spare the president another potentially bruising confirmation battle. It also would keep Mr. Comey at the center of the F.B.I.’s investigation into several Trump associates and their potential ties with the Russian government.
Retaining Mr. Comey could also help calm the bureau’s work force, which has been rattled after a tumultuous few months in which the F.B.I. and the director himself were sharply criticized for moves that many felt influenced the outcome of the presidential election.
Comey was a major flashpoint during the presidential campaign. Republicans, along with Trump, criticized the FBI director when he decided that candidate Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted for her use of a homebrew email server to send and receive classified information while she conducted State Department business. And Comey took incoming fire from the Democrats when he came forward and announced mere days before the election that the investigation of Clinton was renewed after hundreds of thousands of her emails were discovered on Clinton aide Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
According to the NYT sources, Trump told Comey he would like for him to stay at a briefing earlier this month.
Then, last Wednesday, during a weekly conference call, Mr. Comey relayed the news to his senior employees, who are known as special agents in charge.
Under federal law, the F.B.I. director is appointed to a 10-year-term, intended to overlap more than one administration as part of post-Watergate overhauls created to give the director independence and insulate the job from politics. The president can fire the director for cause. Mr. Comey, a former senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, was appointed by President Obama in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is investigating Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case, in particular, the email announcing the re-opening of the case against Clinton a few days before the election. Under the new Trump administration, it remains to be seen how this investigation will turn out.