SAN FRANCISCO — FBI Director James Comey is not coming to SXSW after all.
The embattled Comey, entangled in another high-stakes political game of poker — this time with President Trump — cited a scheduling conflict for his last-minute cancellation. He was to speak Monday at the conference.
Instead, FBI General Counsel James Baker, a long-serving Department of Justice official, will sit down for a conversation with Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst.
Politically-active SXSW attendees had circled their calendars in anticipation of hearing Comey, who has asked the Justice Department to refute Trump's claim on Saturday that President Obama ordered the tapping of Trump's phones during the presidential campaign. Last year, Comey was front, center and in the middle of a controversial FBI probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. The Clinton team blamed Comey, in part, for her loss in the presidential election.
Many expected fireworks, and potential headlines, from Comey's appearance after adoring crowds last year welcomed Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, both of whom keynoted at SXSW.
What they'll get this year is a discussion between Baker and Herbst on the "intersection of national security, technology and First Amendment rights," SXSW spokesman Brett Cannon says.
"While Director Comey is now unable to attend, we're still really excited that this important conversation will take place,” Herbst said in a statement.
Politics is a major theme at this year's conference. On Monday, SXSW organizers announced former Vice President Joe Biden will speak Sunday at the conference. He will be introduced by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
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