(CNSNews.com) - President Obama believes that FBI Director James Comey "is a man of integrity, he's a man of principle, he's a man who is well-regarded by senior officials in both parties," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.
"He's somebody who's served in a senior position in the Bush administration and he's somebody who got strong bipartisan support when his nomination to be the Director of the FBI was considered by the United States Senate. So all those things are true. They speak to his good character, and the president's assessment of his integrity and his character has not changed.
"For example, the president doesn't believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn't believe that he's secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party.
"He's in a tough spot," Earnest added, noting that Comey will have to "defend his actions in the face of significant criticism from a variety of legal experts."
Obama himself has not spoken publicly about Comey's revelation to Congress on Friday -- 11 days before the election -- that the FBI is once again looking into hundreds of thousands of emails reportedly found on a computer used by both Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner. The president left it to Earnest to explain the White House response.
Earnest on Monday repeatedly refused to criticize or defend Comey's decision to announce the FBI's renewed interest in the case involving Hillary Clinton's improper use of private email address and server to conduct government business.
"I'm just not going to be in a position to frankly either defend or criticize the decisions that he's made with what to regard -- with regard to what to communicate in public. That is separate...from the kind of prosecutorial and investigative decisions that are made by the FBI and the Department of Justice. That is their institutional responsibility, to make those decisions about investigations and prosecutions independent of any sort of political interference. And I will defend their right to do that. In fact, it's their responsibility."
Earnest said Obama not only has confidence in Comey's integrity and character, "the president's got a lot of confidence in the attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, to run that department."
Comey's revelation that the email investigation has taken a new turn will not deter Obama from campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton: "I think what those of you who have been covering the president for a while now know that the president is somebody who is pretty even keeled. He doesn't get too high or too low," Earnest said. "And he has a tendency to focus on the responsibilities that he has in front of him.
"And the president feels strongly, as you've heard him say, about supporting Secretary Clinton's campaign. And over the course of the next week the president has put together a rather aggressive travel schedule to make the case to the American public in support of the candidate that he's endorsed.
"That's what the president's focused on. And that's what -- I would not anticipate a significant change to the public pitch that President Obama will be making in support of Secretary Clinton's campaign."