President Donald Trump has asked FBI Director James Comey to remain as chief of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, reports The New York Times (NYT), citing people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
James Comey reportedly told his top agents across the country that President Trump requested that he stay on the job.
Federal law dictates that the FBI director is appointed to a 10-year-term intended to overlap more than one administration and grant the chief independence from politics.
However, the president has the authority to dismiss Comey.
The Times notes:
When Mr. Comey and the president-elect met in Trump Tower for the first time earlier this month for an intelligence briefing, Mr. Trump told the F.B.I. director that he hoped he would remain in his position, according to people briefed on the matter. And Mr. Trump’s aides have made it clear to Mr. Comey that the president does not plan to ask him to leave, these people said.
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.
Soon after Trump was elected president in November, he said in an interview with CBS’s Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes that he had not made a decision on whether to retain Comey as the FBI director.
Comey served as a senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official under President George W. Bush and was appointed to the FBI director post by President Obama in 2013.
NYT acknowledges that the FBI and White House declined to comment on their report.
“Mr. Comey will have to manage an increasingly difficult relationship with Mr. Trump and his White House, as the F.B.I. is leading an investigation into ties between Mr. Trump’s associates — including his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort — and the Russian government,” points out the newspaper. “As part of that inquiry, agents have examined intercepted communications and financial transactions. Mr. Comey has repeatedly declined to discuss the investigation with members of Congress.”
The DOJ Inspector General (IG) is investigating Comey’s handling of the email case involving Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton, a decision the FBI has welcomed.
Drawing ire from Democrats, Comey announced the FBI was probing additional emails related to Clinton emails 11 days prior to the election.