As Democrats turned on FBI Director James Comey after his bombshell announcement that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a home-brew email set-up, the embattled Comey found some unexpected support from a surprising source.

At a Monday press conference following a weekend consumed with reaction to the announcement by politicians and party operatives, surrogates, pundits and the candidates themselves, Press Secretary Josh Earnest had some good words for the FBI head.

“The president believes [Comey] is a man of integrity, he is a man of character, he is a man of principle—and he’s got a difficult job to do,” said Earnest.

Obama’s support may not stem from a genuine concern for Comey as much as a need to distance himself from Clinton.

The move to reopen the Clinton investigation stemmed from evidence found on a shared laptop during an independent probe into the sexing scandal surrounding disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, the husband of her aide, Huma Abedin.

But the tone of the White House comment was a less than a full-throated re-endorsement of Clinton, giving Obama room to react with shock and disappointment should the new evidence lead to charges, or with a statement that he never doubted Clinton should she be absolved – again.

Comey, who served as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, was appointed as Director of the FBI by Obama in 2013, in what was seen as evidence of bipartisan regard and a reputation as an independent minded public servant.

That reputation was severely tried in July when Democrats applauded his decision to not recommend charges against Clinton after a year-long investigation while Republicans claimed he had been unduly influenced by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

With Friday’s announcement, the tables flipped on Comey and he suddenly found himself a villain in the eyes of Democrats, who cried foul at the move coming so close to the election, but according to Earnest, the president does not believe Comey’s action is an attempt to influence the vote.

“The President doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party,” Earnest said.

The president has been an enthusiastic surrogate for Clinton and cleared his schedule to allow him to go out on the campaign trail in support of her candidacy with more events scheduled for mid-week.

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