On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that James Comey informed his top agents that President Donald Trump asked him to stay on as the Director of the F.B.I. Keeping Comey in charge of the agency would save the President from having to go through another arduous confirmation process awaiting approval from the Senate. The decision would also keep Comey in charge of overseeing the F.B.I. investigations that are currently being done on some of Trump’s associates, such as Trump’s National Security Advisor retired general Michael Flynn and his communications with Russian diplomats.
According to The New York Times, people close to the matter said that Trump had first told Comey that he would hope he could stay on as the head of the bureau back when they first met at Trump Tower in January, before Trump was sworn in as President. Trump’s aides have made it clear that the President does not intend to ask him to leave as Director. Last Wednesday, Comey reportedly told his top officials during a conference call that Trump had in fact asked him to stay on.
Comey was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013 as the successor to Robert Mueller, who had been head of the agency since the George W. Bush Administration. Federal law requires that F.B.I Directors serve ten year terms to ensure they lead the agency through multiple administrations, though the President has the ability to replace the director of the bureau at anytime. The law was implemented after the Watergate scandal to help separate politics from the director’s duties.
Comey was appointed just months before Hillary Clinton’s private server was made public and subsequently investigated by the F.B.I. Comey was in charge of overseeing the investigation, which exposed him to a substantial amount of criticism, from Trump included, when the FBI revealed they found the Clinton team was guilty of wrongdoings but would not face any charges.
Just days before the 2016 Presidential election, James Comey issued a letter to Congress informing them that new evidence related to the investigation had surfaced and the case would be reopened. Two days before the election, another letter was sent from Comey to Congress that informed them that the new evidence had not changed their decision not to charge Hillary Clinton.