Embattled FBI director Jim Comey has pulled out of a scheduled appearance at this month’s South by Southwest.
Comey was scheduled to participate in a conversation moderated by Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst, with the focus centered around “the tensions between privacy and national security.” Now, though, Comey will no longer appear “due to scheduling conflicts keeping him in Washington D.C.” FBI general counsel James Baker will appear in Comey’s place.
As of late, Comey has been the subject of much criticism from both sides of the political aisle. In the days leading up to last year’s presidential election, he sent a letter to Congress announcing the discovery of new emails from Hillary Clinton that needed to be reviewed as part of the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server. Though the emails were found to be redundant and offered nothing new to the investigation, many political analysts believe the timing of Comey’s letter dramatically impacted the course of the election.
More recently, Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department to publicly reject President Trump’s claims that President Obama had wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower.
For its part, SXSW was heavily criticized for its initial booking of Comey. Last week, the Austin-based music, film, and interactive conference received more negative headlines when a controversial clause relating to deportation was revealed in the contracts of showcasing artists.
On the plus side, former vice president Joe Biden is set to appear at SXSW.