FBI CHIEF CANCELS HIS SXSW APPEARANCE
Controversial agency director had been slated for Monday talk.
FBI Director James Comey has canceled his highly anticipated interview at the South by Southwest conference this year, citing schedule conflicts that will keep him in Washington, D.C.
A statement from SXSW on Tuesday said that FBI General Counsel James Baker will take Comey’s place at the Monday session.
Baker will have a conversation with Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum.
“While director Comey is now unable to attend, we’re still really excited that this important conversation will take place,” Herbst said in a written statement.
Comey’s plan to make an appearance at SXSW was a bold move for the FBI director.
Comey was criticized — particularly by Democrats — for his decision to announce a second investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails shortly before the November election. Former President Bill Clinton cast some of the blame for his wife’s loss on Comey’s decision.
When SXSW first announced the decision to bring Comey to SXSW for an on-stage interview in late January, it provoked a strong reaction on social media. There were calls to protest his
interview or boycott all of SXSW. But others said they were eager to hear Comey explain his decision.
It wasn’t immediately clear what duties will be keeping Comey in Washington on Monday. SXSW spokesman Brett Cannon said he wasn’t told any specifics about the scheduling conflicts.
Baker is expected to tackle many of the same topics Comey would have discussed, such as the intersection of national security and technology.
Jill Biden will speak
Also on Tuesday, SXSW organizers said Jill Biden, wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, has been added to this year’s speakers list.
On Monday, the conference had announced that the former vice president will deliver a 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12, talk at the Austin Convention Center that will be open to all SXSW registrants.
The former vice president will discuss the Biden cancer initiative, which he has been focusing on since leaving the White House.
Jill Biden will join her husband in the session, which is part of “Connect to End Cancer,” a series of Health Track panels that SXSW is holding in partnership with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health and Merck & Co.
Jill Biden holds a doctorate in education and is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. She also is president of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, which focuses on providing free educational breast health awareness programs to schools.
Last month, the Bidens launched the Biden Foundation, which will focus on ending violence against women and working to further cancer research.
Other areas of focus will include protecting children, working toward equality and improving community colleges.
FBI Director James Comey, whose decision to announce a second investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails was partly blamed for her loss, has canceled his appearance at this year’s SXSW festival.