FBI Director James Comey says he plans to serve his entire 10-year term, even as controversy swirls over his attempt to rebut President Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the election.
"You're stuck with me for another 6-1/2 years," Comey said during a cybersecurity conference at Boston College. He was appointed 3-1/2 years ago by then-President Barack Obama.
After Trump recently claimed that Obama tapped his phones during last year's election, Comey privately asked the Justice Department to dispute the allegation.
During his speech to law enforcement officials and private-sector business leaders in Boston on Wednesday, Comey said the FBI is renewing a focus on the challenges posed by encryption. He said there should be a balance between privacy and the FBI's ability to lawfully access information.
He also alluded to the latest WikiLeaks dump, in which the organization released thousands of documents it claimed showed secret CIA hacking tools used to break into computers, mobile phones and even smart TVs.
The CIA did not comment on the documents, which were not verified by NBC News.
Comey said the FBI can't prevent every attack, but it can find those responsible and "hold them accountable."
He also said the bureau must work on its relationship with the private sector in order to stop cyberattacks, mentioning Apple.
The tech giant and the FBI went to court over a locked iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook's encrypted phone.
Comey said the FBI was unable to open 1,200 of 2,800 devices it received and had lawful authority to open between September to November, but he also said he likes privacy, including for his private Instagram account with just nine followers.
"I love strong encryption," Comey said, and said his agency should work with humility toward finding a way with Apple to lawfully open encrypted devices.
"This isn't the 'FBI versus Apple'."
Comey didn't address Trump’s claim about Obama wiretapping his phones, though sources have said he rejected it. He is also being asked to testify before a House panel investigating possible ties between Donald Trump and Russia.
He also did not respond to questions about Trump’s claims during a ribbon-cutting for the Boston FBI division's new offices in Chelsea on Tuesday.