FBI director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump on on Tuesday.
In a letter that he was being “terminated and removed” because he was “not able to effectively lead the bureau” into whether members of his campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year’s election.
The sacking came after attorney general Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein recommended to Trump that he be removed over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
However, critics believe the dismissal is more closely linked to Comey’s role in investigating Trump’s allies over alleged links to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Comey saw his reputation tarnished when he was dragged into the toxic politics of the 2016 campaign, Comey reportedly found out he had been fired while speaking to FBI employees in Los Angeles and initially thought it was a prank.
The Trump administration attributed Comey’s dismissal to his handling of the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, but Democrats ridiculed that notion, raising parallels to Watergate-era firings and suggested Comey was getting too close to the White House with the Russia probe.
The controversial move has been condemned by Democrats, many of whom said the sacking was “Nixonian” and some high profile Republicans including Trump supporters.
The Republican congressman,Justin Amash from Michigan said he was reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia in the wake of the news.
Richard Burr, a Republican leading the Senate intelligence committee investigation into Russia’s influence over the 2016 presidential election, said he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of the decision.
Dana Bash of CNN Was by White House, that the thinking was that because Democrats were saying precisely what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a letter explaining the grounds for Comey’s dismissal there would be no backlash.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said he told Trump he was “making a very big mistake.”
It be observed ,why Comey was fired now, at a time when critics would immediately conclude it was because of the Russia probe.
The decision to fire Comey has caused the dollar to slip on foreign exchange markets overnight. The dollar index, which investors use to track the greenback against six other currencies, dropped 0.2%.
Trump himself has only commented once since the story broke, using his personal and presidential Twitter accounts to attack Chuck Schumer’s stance on Comey.
Comey who learned of his dismissal from televisions tuned to the news, as he was addressing the workforce at the FBI office in Los Angeles, law enforcement sources said. The source said he made a joke about it to lighten the mood and called his office to get confirmation.
Rosenstein accused Comey of attempting to “usurp the attorney general’s authority” by publicly announcing why he felt the case should be closed without prosecution.
“Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation,” Rosenstein argued in his memo.
“We should reject the departure and return to the traditions (of the bureau),” Rosenstein said. “The way the director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them.”
Former Clinton campaign officials accused Trump of using the furor over Comey’s handling of the email server as a ruse to get out from under the Russia investigation.
“I was as frustrated, concerned and disappointed as anyone with Director Comey’s handling of the email investigation, but President Trump just fired the man investigating how Russia meddled in our election and whether members of his campaign were involved, an investigation President Trump called “charade” only 24 hours ago,” said Clinton’s former campaign manager Robby Mook.
One Trump loyalist, who worked on the campaign and the transition gave his reaction to CNN’s Jim Scuitto.
“I firmly believe the Russia angle is fake news. But this gives me pause,” the person said.
Senior Justice Department and FBI officials say they were unaware of the Comey decision until the announcement. Officials who spoke to CNN said they are shocked by the development.
Comey’s term was due to run until 2023. The decade-long tenure was introduced to shield FBI directors from being drawn into politics, but the position is still subject to dismissal at the pleasure of the President.
Comey was appointed FBI director by President Barack Obama in 2013.
The White House said it will immediately search for a new FBI director. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is now the acting FBI director, according to a message sent to employees by Sessions.