Attorney general and deputy attorney general recommend dismissing FBI director, citing handling of Clinton probe
James Comey testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on May 3. Photo: Jeff Malet/Newscom/ZUMA Press
President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, igniting a firestorm over how the decision would impact the agency’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mr. Trump informed Mr. Comey he had been terminated on Tuesday afternoon, in a letter that cited the FBI chief’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. The president had been advised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Mr. Trump wrote in a letter to Mr. Comey.
Michael Kortan, Mr. Comey’s top spokesman at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
The dismissal immediately drew criticism from Democrats, many of whom called for an independent investigation into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. The FBI is currently investigating whether members of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign collaborated with the Russian government to influence the presidential election. Mr. Trump and his staff have dismissed allegations of Russian collusion, and Russia has denied interfering in the election.
Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, in an interview called for Mr. Comey to testify in front of the committee about the status of the investigation and whether or not he thought his dismissal was linked to it.
“This is Nixonian,” Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said in a statement.
Some Republicans also expressed concern about the timing of Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said in a statement: “His removal at this particular time will raise questions.”