The White House shook Washington by announcing that James Comey ‘had been dismissed and removed from office.’
But Democratic politicians say he was fired because the FBI is investigating allegations of a link between Trump’s campaign during the presidential election with Russia.
Last week, Comey gave inaccurate information about Hillary Clinton’s email to Congress.
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President Trump wrote in a letter to Comey that he agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recommendation that ‘You can no longer lead the Bureau (FBI) effectively.’
Sessions said that the Justice Department “is committed to discipline, integrity, and high order law,” and therefore “a new beginning is needed.”
Comey was giving a speech to a number of FBI agents in Los Angeles, and one of his team members gave him a piece of paper notifying him that he had just been fired.
The 56-year-old man – who entered the fourth year of his 10-year tenure as director of the FBI – reportedly laughed, thinking it was a joke.
Why did the US government fire Comey?
Many are surprised that Comey should be fired on how he handles Clinton’s email investigation, as Trump once praised the FBI’s director on the matter.
In the last days of the presidential campaign, Trump told a campaign that Comey was a ‘big guts’ in reopening Clinton’s email investigations. “What he did has restored his reputation,” Trump said.
But on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that he “could not defend the Director (FBI) in dealing with the conclusion of an investigation by Clinton’s Foreign Mail, and I do not understand that he rejected an almost universal judgment that he was mistaken.”
“Almost everyone agrees that the Director (FBI) is making a serious mistake, it’s one of the few things that brings together diverse perspectives.”
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He said that Comey was mistaken that in July 2016 he had ‘overtaxed’ the attorney general earlier by announcing that an investigation into Clinton’s email should be closed without lawsuits.
The deputy attorney general, Comey adds to his mistake by ‘haphazardly’ revealing ‘information that corners’ about Hillary Clinton.
What about the Russian investigation?
Democrats quickly claimed that Trump fired Comey to influence the FBI’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign team during the presidential poll colluded with the Kremlin.
The House of Representatives and the Senate Intelligence Committee are investigating the allegations as well.
“Is this (Russian-related) investigation too pointed to the president?” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked in a press conference late Tuesday.
“This does not seem to be a coincidence,” he added.
This development was then compared to the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when President Richard Nixon dismissed a special independent prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
But President Trump has repeatedly insisted that the Russian-related allegations are ‘false news’.
What does a Republican politician say?
Richard Burr, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “I am distracted by the time and reason for Jim Comey’s dismissal.”
Justin Amash, a conservative congressman from Michigan said he was considering a plan to form an independent commission on Russian involvement.
Amash described a paragraph of Trump’s letter to Comey as ‘odd’ – in that paragraph he said that the FBI director told the president on three occasions that he was not under investigation.
Senator Nebraska Ben Sasse, who has long criticized Trump for saying, “when the dismissal was very disturbing.”