Trump plans to keep Comey as FBI director: source

© Reuters. Donald Trump greets James Comey as Joseph Clancy looks on during the inaugural reception for law enforcement officers and first responders in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump intends to keep FBI Director James Comey in office, a person familiar with the decision said Tuesday, amid reports that intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies The US officials are scrutinizing Trump associates for their ties to Russia.

Comey, a Republican, drew furious criticism from Democrats for announcing just 11 days before the Nov. 8 election that the FBI was reviewing additional emails related to the use of a private server by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Four days after the election, Clinton privately blamed Comey for her electoral loss to Trump, telling donors that Trump was able to use the FBI chief’s comments on the emails to attack her in the final days of the campaign.

On Sunday, Comey received a warm handshake and a pat on the back from Trump during a reception at the White House. On Tuesday, Trump did not confirm that Comey would stay when asked about it during an Oval Office appearance with top executives in the US auto industry.

The news that Comey will keep his job was first reported by the New York Times, which said it told its top agents that Trump had asked him to remain in the position he had held since 2013.

An FBI director is appointed to serve a 10-year term, but the president can fire him at any time. For example, former President Bill Clinton in 1993 fired William Sessions after an internal Justice Department surveillance report that revealed unethical conduct, such as taking FBI planes on personal trips.

Trump had harshly criticized the Justice Department during the campaign for failing to bring criminal charges against Clinton for using a private email server to conduct government business during her term as secretary of state from 2009-13.

Comey sent a letter to the United States Congress on October 28 announcing that the FBI was investigating more emails as part of its investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information when using the private email server.

The FBI director then announced two days before the election that a review of the new emails did not change the office’s previous finding that criminal charges against Clinton were not warranted, but the political damage was already done.

The Times reported last week that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are investigating the intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a larger investigation into possible links between Russian officials and Trump associates, including the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

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