F.B.I. Director James Comey has become only the second director of the agency to be fired. News of his termination was announced on Tuesday after he was contacted by Donald Trump. He was fired over the phone.
The termination comes amid a massive criminal investigation into whether Trump and his advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The move quickly drew comparisons to President Richard M. Nixon’s infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Nixon purged the Justice Department in the middle of the Watergate investigation.
Democrats immediately demanded that a special prosecutor be assigned to lead the Russia investigation.
Trump lamely attempted to claim that Comey was fired because of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Comey was also simultaneously praised by the 45th POTUS for being “gutsy” in pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.
“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,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to Comey dated Tuesday.
Comey is only three years into his 10-year term as the leader of the F.B.I.
When asked if he was attempting to influence the Russian investigation Trump said he was only following recommendations from the Justice Department, which criticized how Mr. Comey concluded the investigation into Mrs. Clinton.
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the F.B.I. that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump wrote.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently praised James Comey back for being “gutsy” with his investigations.
Officials at the F.B.I. said they learned of the dismissal from news publications. The termination is effective immediately.
Comey’s deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career F.B.I. officer, immediately becomes the agency’s acting director. The White House has promised that the search for a new director will begin immediately.
“Any attempt to stop or undermine this F.B.I. investigation would raise grave constitutional issues,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, (D-IL). “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.”
The Republican party is already trying to shape a bullshit narrative. Senator Roy Blunt, (R-MO) said Comey served the F.B.I well but quickly added that new leadership at the F.B.I. “will restore confidence in the organization.”
“Many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the last year,” Mr. Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
The termination comes just one day after Sally Q. Yates gave her testimony to the Senate Committee. You may recall that Yates was fired by Trump after she overturned his travel ban on Muslims. Yates was serving as acting Attorney General at the time of her immediate termination.
The White House said Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, urged Trump to fire Comey.
“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote in a letter released by the White House, “and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”
The termination may have been sudden but it’s hardly surprising. In a tweet sent earlier in the week Trump accused Comey of being “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton,” accusing him of giving her “a free pass for many bad deeds.”
Sean Spicer had also hinted at the termination days earlier. During a briefing Spicer was asked if Comey still had the confidence of President Trump.
“I have no reason to believe — I haven’t asked him,” Mr. Spicer said. “I have not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this.”
A reporter noted that Mr. Spicer had previously indicated that the president did have confidence in Comey.
“In light of what you’re telling me, I don’t want to start speaking on behalf of the president without speaking to him first,” Mr. Spicer said.
Now, in the midst of an investigation into the President’s illegal relationship with Russia, we are left with an acting director of the F.B.I.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.