FBI chief tells agents he won't be replaced

FBI Director James Comey testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committe hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Jan 10, 2017.
FBI Director James Comey testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committe hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Jan 10, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • FBI director James Comey told his top agents from around the country that he had been asked by US President Donald Trump to keep running the federal government's top law enforcement agency, according to people familiar with the matter.

A decision to retain Mr Comey would spare the President another potentially bruising confirmation battle. It would also keep Mr Comey at the centre of the FBI's investigation into several Trump associates and their potential ties with the Russian government.

Retaining Mr Comey could help calm the bureau, which has been rattled by a tumultuous few months in which the FBI and its director were sharply criticised for moves that many felt influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

During the campaign, Mr Trump criticised the FBI and the Justice Department for not bringing criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a personal e-mail server.

After Mr Trump was elected in November, he said in a nationally televised interview that he had not made up his mind about whether he would ask Mr Comey to resign.

When the two men met for the first time earlier this month for an intelligence briefing, Mr Trump told the FBI director that he hoped he would remain in his position, according to people briefed on the matter.

Mr Trump's aides have also made it clear to Mr Comey the President does not plan to ask him to leave, these people said.

Mr Comey last Wednesday relayed the news to his senior employees, who are known as special agents in charge.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'FBI chief tells agents he won't be replaced'. Print Edition | Subscribe