Tags: FBI | James Comey | Tensions | White House

FBI Chief James Comey Stirs Tensions, Becomes Political Problem for WH

Image: FBI Chief James Comey Stirs Tensions, Becomes Political Problem for WH
(AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 09:27 AM

FBI Director James Comey's famously independent streak is reportedly ruffling feathers at the White House on issues ranging from cybersecurity to rising crime rates — and the potentially explosive investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server.

The Republican, praised for standing up to the Bush administration over a warrantless wiretapping program in 2004, may be proving more than President Barack Obama bargained for, The Hill reports.

"He takes very seriously the fact that he works for the executive branch," Leo Taddeo, a former agent in the FBI's cyber division, tells The Hill.

"But he also understands the importance of maintaining his independence as a law enforcement agency that needs to give not just the appearance of independence but the reality of it."

In the Clinton email server probe, for example, Obama has publicly defended Clinton, saying she "made a mistake" with the setup but that it wasn't "a situation in which America's national security was endangered."

The Hill reports that Comey pushed back, saying the president wouldn't have any knowledge of the probe, and Comey ensured lawmakers last week he's "very close, personally" to the investigation, The Washington Times reports.

The FBI director is proving he is "not attached to the strings of the White House," Ron Hosko, the former head of the FBI's criminal investigative division, tells The Hill, which characterizes him as a critic of Obama's law enforcement strategies.

According to The Hill, Hosko even suggests a showdown may be looming over potential criminal charges for Clinton that could echo Comey's 2004 confrontation, when he rushed to a hospital to stop the Bush White House from renewing a warrantless wiretapping program while Attorney General John Ashcroft was gravely ill.

"He has that mantle," Hosko tells The Hill. "I think now there's this expectation — I hope it's a fair one — that he'll do it again if he has to."

Comey is also going up against the White House on the matter of whether Apple should help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorist killers.

And he's also triggered concerns over the Black Lives Matter movement's focus on police violence, and by warning about "gaps" in the screening process for Syrian refugees, The Hill reports.

"Part of his role is to not necessarily be in lock step with the White House," Mitch Silber, a former intelligence official with the New York City Police Department who now is senior managing director at FTI Consulting, tells The Hill.

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FBI Director James Comey's famously independent streak is reportedly ruffling feathers at the White House on issues ranging from cybersecurity to rising crime rates - and the potentially explosive investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server.
FBI, James Comey, Tensions, White House
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2016-27-09
Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 09:27 AM
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