Con­tro­ver­sial agency di­rec­tor had been slated for Mon­day talk.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Lilly Rock­well lrock­well@states­man.com Comey

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.

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