Trump fires FBI director Comey
FBI director James Comey has been removed from his position by US President Donald Trump.
"The president has accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
Mr Trump, following a recommendation by the US Justice Department, informed Mr Comey he was “terminated and removed from office” effective immediately.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr Trump wrote in a letter to Mr Comey.
Mr Comey was appointed FBI director in 2013 for an expected tenure of ten years. The executive branch has the authority to dismiss the country’s top law enforcement officer for any reason.
In a later press release about the dismissal, Mr Trump says the decision was necessary to “restore public trust and confidence” in the bureau and that the search for a new director would begin immediately.
It is not immediately clear exactly why Mr Comey was removed at this point. However, the director recently gave testimony at a senate FBI oversight committee about the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server during the 2016 election campaign.
During that hearing, Mr Comey told the panel sensitive information about the investigation and misstated details of whether Mrs Clinton sent classified emails to her aides. The director of the FBI was also criticised by the Justice Department for discussing the case and reprimanding Mrs Clinton’s “careless” handling of classified information.
Mr Comey told the oversight committee: “Somehow, [Mrs Clinton’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information” adding that “[Mr Weiner’s] then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.”
His second statement that Ms Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information,” was not accurate according to the Justice Department, which proceeded to recommend that Mr Comey be removed from his position in a letter to Mr Trump.
“The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.
“Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives,’ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in a memo to the White House.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a separate letter that he agreed with his deputy’s assessment.
“I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI. I must recommend that you remove Director James B Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.’’
At the time of his dismissal, Mr Comey was tasked to investigate an alleged collusion between the Trump election campaign team and the Russian government.