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James Comey to Remain on as FBI Director

FBI Director James Comey will remain in his post amid an inspector general probe into his Clinton email handling and Russia investigations.
Image: FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?EURoeRussia?EUR(TM)s intelligence activities\" on Capitol Hill in Washington
FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Jan. 10.Joshua Roberts / Reuters, file

FBI Director James Comey, who faces investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General and whose agency is conducting multiple probes into alleged Russian interference in the election, has no intention of resigning his post.

FBI directors, who serve 10 year terms, do not generally leave when administrations change. Comey's tenure is set to end in 2023.

However, Comey's tenure of late has been particularly rocky and he found himself in Democratic crosshairs over how he handled an announcement related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. The election-eve timing, Democrats say, helped tank Clinton's presidential run.

Comey also stays on as one of the FBI’s probes — conducted in coordination with the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Treasury Department — is exploring whether a select number of former Trump campaign aides had improper contact with elements of the Russian government.

The Bureau cleared of wrongdoing Trump’s national security advisor Mike Flynn, the retired Army Lt. Gen. who called Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador in Washington, the day former President Barack Obama announced sanctions on Russia for its alleged electoral interference, a U.S. intelligence official told NBC News.

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on the Today Show that Trump had no intention of shutting down the FBI’s investigations.

“The president is going to make sure that he gets the best information from the intelligence community and the other department justice entities to make the best decision possible,” Spicer told Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd. “We're not looking to shut anything down, we want to know the facts.”

Related: FBI Finds Nothing Amiss in Flynn-Russia Eavesdrop: Official

DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s probe partially focuses on whether the release of two letters to Congress, sent on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, and a July 5 public announcement related to the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State were “based on improper considerations>”

In the first letter — sent to the chairmen and ranking members of eight Senate and House committees — Comey said the FBI had found additional emails, later learned to be found on the laptop of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner.

In October, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News the letter, widely criticized by Democrats, was sent to legislators “out of an abundance of caution.”

Clinton has partly blamed her election loss on Comey’s letters, the second of which cleared her of wrongdoing and largely drove the news cycle two days before Election Day.

“Don't take it from me, take it from independent analysts, take it from the Trump campaign, take it from Nate Silver, who's pointed out that swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days, breaking against me because of the FBI letter from Director Comey,” Clinton said on Dec. 15 in remarks recorded by the New York Times and verified by NBC News, adding that the “letter most likely made the difference in the outcome.”

The probe, parts of which focus on alleged misconduct by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and DOJ Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik, has received praise from both Democrats and Republicans, and Comey appeared to welcome the investigation.

"I am grateful to the Department of Justice's IG for taking on this review. He is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office,” Comey said in a statement on Jan. 12. “I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter."

Trump’s relationship with Comey has shifted repeatedly over the last year.

He tweeted on Oct. 17 an article claiming Comey had impeded the email probe. In a video attached to a tweet made the same day, Trump alleged the FBI, DOJ and the State Department colluded to make Clinton “look less guilty and a lot better than she looks.”

But on Sunday, Trump appeared to thank Comey at the Inaugural Law Enforcement and First Responders Reception.

“He’s become more famous than me,” Trump said.