Trump fires FBI chief probing his 'Russia links'… who was (dis)credited by many for Hillary defeat
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday fired FBI chief James Comey, abruptly removing the top sleuth overseeing a criminal probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election that was won by the real estate mogul. "You are hereby terminated and removed from the office, effective immediately," Trump said in a letter to Comey, who was four years into his 10-year term as FBI director. Though the president has the authority to fire the FBI director for any reason, Comey is only the second director to be fired in bureau history. President Bill Clinton fired William S Sessions in 1993.
Trump explained his bombshell announcement by citing Comey's handling of the investigation by America's leading law enforcement agency into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was the secretary of state. Trump told Comey, 56, that he was no longer effectively able to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation and it was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in it.
The President's move comes days after Comey testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling into the US elections and a possible collusion between Trump campaign and Moscow. In recent days, Comey again came under fire for his handling of the investigation into Clinton's private email server. Many Democrats believe that his announcement that he was re-opening the probe 11 days before the November 8 election cost Clinton the presidency.
In the letter, Trump acknowledged that Comey had informed him "on three separate occasions" that he was not under investigation. "I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau," he added.
Comey learned from news reports that he had been fired while addressing bureau employees in Los Angeles. It was reported that he made a joke about it to lighten the mood and called his office to get confirmation. Comey's deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career FBI officer, has been appointed the acting director, the Justice Department said. The White House said the search for a director will begin immediately.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: "The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) and the Deputy Attorney General (Rod Rosenstein) regarding the dismissal." In a statement released by the White House, Trump said: "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."
Comey had courted controversy during the 2016 presidential polls when he revealed a renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use, which the Democrats claimed had hurt her chances of becoming president.