White House Fires FBI Director James Comey

The announcement was made as the Federal Bureau of Investigation looks into the Trump administration and campaign ties to Russia.

  • Published 9 May 2017

On 9 May 2017, the White House announced it has fired James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

The announcement was made via a press statement:

The firing, reportedly recommended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, comes amid an FBI investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign and associates over alleged links to Russia and the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

A letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey be fired over his handling of the conclusion of the Bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. The letter, which was released to the media, reads:

As you and I have discussed… 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.

Sessions followed up with a letter to President Trump stating:

As Attorney General, I am committed to a high level of discipline, integrity, and the rule of law to the Department of Justice — an institution that I deeply respect. Based on my evaluation and for the reasons expressed by the Deputy Attorney General in the attached memorandum, I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI.

The president then sent a letter to Comey announcing he had been dismissed:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

During his Senate subcommittee testimony, Comey would not say who was under investigation and said he couldn’t comment on ruling anyone out.

Comey’s decisions at the close of the Bureau’s investigation into Trump’s campaign opponent to discuss the investigation and his notification to Congress that additional e-mails had been found on a laptop belonging to the husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin had been controversial and he was questioned by lawmakers about those decisions during a subcommittee hearing about the investigation into Russia.

But the timing of the firing raised questions, as Comey has also gone on record stating that the FBI is investigating possible links between Trump associates.

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