FBI James Comey says President Donald Trump has asked him to stay on the job running the top federal law enforcement agency, the New York Times reports. The decision to retain Comey would spare the president another bruising confirmation battle. It also keeps Comey at the center of the FBI investigation into several Trump associates and their potential ties with the Russian government. The Times says retaining Comey could help calm the bureau’s work force, which has been rattled after a tumultuous few months in which the FBI and Comey himself were sharply criticized for moves that many felt influenced the presidential election outcome.
Trump had harshly criticized the FBI and the main Justice Department for not bringing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a personal email server. After the election, Trump said he had not made up his mind about whether he would ask Comey to resign. When Comey and the president-elect met in Trump Tower for the first time this month for an intelligence briefing, Trump told the FBI director that he hoped he would remain in his position. Last Wednesday, during a weekly conference call, Comey relayed the news to the bureau’s special agents in charge. Comey, who is serving a 10-year term, was appointed by President Obama in 2013.