Donald Trump has fired FBI Director Comey, citing his handling of the Clinton email investigation.
President Donald Trump issued a letter to FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday to inform him and the general public that Comey is hereby fired from his position, effective immediately. The letter cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email server case as the reason for his dismissal, specifically his public announcement that Clinton would have no charges filed against her for the controversial incident.
This dismissal is a stunning development coming from Trump’s administration and many opponents of the firing have said that Trump personally benefited from Comey’s actions regarding the Clinton case because it’s largely believed that the press conferences and reopening of her case is what led to Trump’s electoral victory.
Trump is said to have followed the recommendations of the Justice Department, saying in his Tuesday letter,
“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.”
Some have questioned whether this firing is Trump’s way of disrupting the investigation into his campaign members’ ties to Russia throughout the election, since the FBI is currently conducting that investigation. Though the director of the FBI was once seen as a nonpartisan position in government, enforcing the law and acting on behalf of the country as a whole, Comey was dragged into the political spotlight in 2016 and seems to have been a central topic throughout the election season.
Democrats are reeling after this announcement because, although they hoped Comey would be fired if Clinton had won the election, they recently began to see Comey as an asset for their side because of his commitment to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Now that he has been fired, many are wondering if or when the investigation will continue.
“Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. “We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credible lead so that we know that it’ll have a just outcome.”
This isn’t Trump’s first time firing a top law enforcement official since he came into the office; in February, he famously fired Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General who was left over from the Obama administration. Yates spoke on Monday alongside former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., in front of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee to provide information about what happened between Donald Trump, the recently fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly pushed for Comey’s dismissal, and Rosenstein addressed the firing in another letter released by the White House.
“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.”
James Comey was fired just three years into his 10-year term as Director of the bureau, which is highly unusual, and Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, a career FBI agent, is now acting director. The White House said that the search for a new director will begin immediately.