FBI Director James Comey’s aggressive independence is creating a political problem for the White House, according to The Hill.
The most recent example is his insistence that Apple Inc. help unlock the iPhone that was used by the San Bernardino husband-wife team of terrorists who killed 14 innocent victims attending a Christmas Party.
That insistence has enraged Silicon Valley’s tech industry, a significant source of funding for Democratic candidates.
Here’s Comey making his pitch before Congress.
Even more significantly, Comey has linked the controversial Black Lives Matter movement to rising violent crime rates and warned the public of “gaps” in the screening of refugees from war-torn areas of Syria and northern Iraq.
Surpassing all of these is the FBI’s dogged and criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to send and receive messages containing classified information.
Any decision by the FBI to recommend charges against either Clinton or her senior staff would strike a blow and more than likely derail Clinton’s presidential bid.
The Hill reported:
In these cases and more, Comey — a Republican who donated in 2012 to Mitt Romney — has proved he is “not attached to the strings of the White House,” said Ron Hosko, the former head of the FBI’s criminal investigative division and a critic of Obama’s law enforcement strategies.
Publicly, administration officials have not betrayed any worry about the Clinton probe. They have also downplayed any differences of opinion on Apple.
However, former administration officials say that Comey’s independence is ruffling the feathers of the White House.
“It’s just not clear [Comey] is speaking for the administration,” said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism and cybersecurity chief said of the iPhone dispute. “We know there have been administration meetings on this for months. The proposal that Comey had made on encryption was rejected by the administration.”
Comey’s reputation for speaking the truth has nothing to do with party politics. In 2004, he hurried to the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the warrantless wiretapping program by the Bush administration.
“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 said.
“He takes very seriously the fact that he works for the executive branch,” added Leo Taddeo, a former agent in the FBI’s cyber division. “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.”
Comey assumed office on September after being officially nominated in June by Obama.
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