By Jim Finkle
BOSTON (Reuters) – FBI Director James Comey said he has no plans to step down anytime soon in a speech on Wednesday, days after he reportedly pushed back against President Donald Trump’s allegations that the Obama administration had tapped phones at Trump Tower.
“You’re stuck with me for another 6-1/2 years,” Comey said at a Boston College cyber security conference, indicating he expects to serve the remainder of his 10-year term.
Comey did not speak with reporters during public appearances in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, ignoring questions about the wiretapping accusation that Trump made on Saturday without offering any evidence to support it.
Comey, who was appointed FBI director by Barack Obama in 2013, had urged Justice Department officials to refute Trump’s claims because it falsely insinuated the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke the law, U.S. officials have said. The department has not acted on his request.
The White House said on Monday that Trump still has confidence in Comey despite his assertiveness in challenging Trump’s claim.
Comey also reiterated a plea for technology companies to enable authorities to access encrypted data on mobile devices and in messaging apps.
He said strong encryption had become more popular in recent years, particularly after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. spying programs.
The use of the technology for scrambling data has made it increasingly difficult for law enforcement to investigate crimes, even when authorities have court orders giving them permission to access data, he said.
As evidence, he said that FBI technicians were unable to access data in about 1,200 of some 2,800 devices that state and local agency asked the bureau to help open from October to December, hampering progress in criminal investigations.
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott)