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FBI Director James Comey Pulls Out of SXSW Festival

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10: FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence heads testified to the committee about cyber threats to the United States and fielded questions about effects of Russian government hacking on the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Five weeks after announcing an appearance at SXSW, FBI Director James Comey has pulled out of the festival due to “scheduling conflicts that will keep him in Washington D.C.,” as a press release put it.

Comey was scheduled to speak with Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst at a panel on “the tensions between privacy and national security.” FBI General Counsel James Baker will replace Comey on the panel.

Comey’s willingness to appear SXSW at all surprised many because of the fall-out from his hastily-announced, last-minute investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, which helped sway the election in favor of Donald Trump.