Mr. Comey got so many calls from former agents and others after he decided this summer not to pursue charges that he had to change his phone number posted online. And at a recent meeting with retired agents, he was still fielding tough questions about the decision.
“I have no patience for suggestions that we conducted ourselves as anything but what we are — honest, competent, and independent,” Mr. Comey wrote in a September email to employees. “Those suggesting that we are ‘political’ or part of some ‘fix’ either don’t know us, or they are full of baloney (and maybe some of both).”
But while the relentless Republican criticism of Mr. Comey’s decision not to bring charges against Mrs. Clinton has received the most attention, both Democrats and Republicans have sought to help their presidential candidates, demanding investigations into their rivals one moment, then slamming Mr. Comey the next.
In recent months, the F.B.I. has dealt with the fallout from the email decision, wrestled with whether to pursue tips about the Clinton family foundation and opened a wide-ranging counterintelligence case into whether Russia is trying to influence the election. Just this week, the F.B.I. defended itself from accusations that Democrats had curried favor with the deputy director by making donations to his wife’s failed State Senate campaign in Virginia.
F.B.I. agents say their community meetings invariably lead to questions about what the bureau is or is not doing in connection with the election. Mr. Comey has urged his agents to stay above the fray. But many of them worry that regardless of the election’s outcome, the F.B.I. might end up the loser.
F.B.I. Chief James Comey Is in Political Crossfire Again Over Emails