President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said after firing the man he praised in January at the White House, as he warmly shook Comey’s hand.
Shortly before 6 p.m., White House press secretary Sean Spicer that Comey was “notified a short time ago,” adding, Comey’s dismissal took effect immediately.
Spicer said the firing came on the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, who both urged Trump to fire Comey.
The White House said it will immediately launch a search to replace Comey, who was was appointed as the nation’s top cop by President Barack Obama in 2013. FBI director usually serves a 10-year term, spanning administrations, and is typically seen as a post that is not subject to removal without cause.
The firing is reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night massacre’ with reports that Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller hand-delivered Comey’s termination notice to the Department of Justice, and it drew sharp responses from Trump critics.
US Senator Cory Booker said, “Now it’s even more important that an independent special counsel is appointed to investigate the Russian interference in our elections.”
Now it’s even more important that an independent special counsel is appointed to investigate the Russian interference in our elections. pic.twitter.com/WcoxtbfSyW
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 9, 2017
US Senator Ron Wyden? tweeted: “Comey should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of Russia/Trump investigation at the time he was fired.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of House Intel Committee, said, “Trump’s decision to fire Comey…should send a chill down the spine of every American.”
Hillary Clinton’s running mate, her campaign manager and press secretary all questioned why Comey was fired in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
“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,” Robby Mook said. “It’s equally concerning that our attorney general, who lied about his own meetings with the Russians, approved Director Comey’s firing.”
“Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation,” Sen. Tim Kaine tweeted. “Comey firing part of a growing pattern by White House to cover-up the truth.”
Sen. John McCain merely said, “I regret that that took place. The president does have that authority, so I respect that.” A spokesperson for former President Obama gave no comment when asked about the firing.
“I do worry whether we ever get to the bottom of Russia now,” tweeted Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign press secretary and a former Justice Department spokesperson.
Born in Yonkers, New York, Comey grew up in Allendale, New Jersey.
He was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, from January 2002 to the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney General on December 11, 2003.
Comey, who was Acting Attorney General during the March 2004 hospitalization of John Ashcroft, refused to certify the legality of central aspects of the National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance program, when certification was required in order for the program to continue.
After Comey’s refusal, Andrew H. Card Jr., White House Chief of Staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and future Attorney General, made a visit to the George Washington University Hospital, to attempt to win approval directly from Ashcroft for the program, so Comey went to the hospital to give Ashcroft support in withstanding pressure from the White House.
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