The White House has claimed FBI director James Comey was fired for the controversial timing of a probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails amid speculation it was actually a bid to cover up the President’s links to Russia.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump fired the bureau’s head honcho – the man who led the agency charged with investigating his campaign’s ties with Russia – in a move that sent shockwaves through Washington.
The surprise dismissal of Comey, who played a huge role in last year’s presidential election, came as he was leading a probe into whether Trump’s aides colluded with Moscow to sway the November vote.
The official line on the dismissal – according to a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein which was circulated by the White House – was for mishandling the probe into presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s emails.
But it took the Democrats an hour to claim it was a cover-up, with Senate leader Chuck Schumer saying it was a ‘big mistake’.
FBI Director James Comey (above) reportedly erred last week when he falsely claimed in testimony before Congress that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin forwarded classified emails to the laptop of her husband, Anthony Weiner, and has now been fired by the President
Farewell: Comey was seen just over three hours after his firing as he shook hands with law enforcement officers in Los Angeles before boarding a private jet
Comey rattled both Donald Trump (left) and Hillary Clinton (right) in the race for the White House
‘Mistake’: The White House put out a dossier which consisted of anti-Comey statements from Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer – but Schumer said the president needed to now appoint a special prosecutor to look into the claims of collusion with the Russians
COMEY: NEW VICTIM OF CLINTON’S TOXIC EMAIL SCANDAL
March 2015: It becomes publicly known that Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as United States Secretary of State, had used her family’s private email server for official communications and FBI opened investigation.
May 2016: The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General released an 83-page report about the State Department’s email practices, including Clinton’s.
July 2016: FBI director James Comey announces the bureau’s investigation had concluded that Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ in handling her email system but recommended that no charges be filed against her. Two days later the State Department reopens its probe into the email controversy.
September 2016: DailyMail.com reveals Huma Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner has sexted a 15-year-old girl. The FBI investigates Weiner, already known as a sexting-addicted pervert, for sexual contact with a minor
October 2016: Eleven days before the election, Comey notifies Congress the FBI is reopening the case due to emails found on a laptop used by Weiner including some from Abedin’s Clintonemail.com address
November 2016: Comey notifies Congress the conclusion that Clinton is in the clear is unchanged – but day slater she loses the election. Democrats blame Comey.
April 2017: Clinton surfaces to explicitly blame Comey, Russia and misogyny for her loss.
May 2017: Comey ‘misspeaks’ in Senate testimony, saying Abedin sent hundreds or thousands of emails to her husband. In fact she only sent the pervert a handful.
May 9: Comey is dramatically fired with immediate effect by the president.
Schumer claimed the firing was a cover-up attempt over Trump’s alleged links to Russia.
‘Why did it happen today? We know the FBI had been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians – a very serious offense,’ he said.
‘Were these investigations getting too close to home for the President?’
He then called on Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor to look into ties to Russia, saying: ‘America depends on you to restore faith in our criminal justice system which is going to be badly shattered after the administration’s actions today.’
The President used the firing letter to boast that Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation – a reference to allegations being touted by his opponents that he somehow colluded with the Kremlin in its bid to bring down Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, who blamed Comey for costing her the election, said ‘no comment’ through an aide.
The White House’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Clinton would have fired Comey as well.
She claimed Comey had ‘lost the confidence of the rank and file within the FBI’, as well as both sides of the political aisle.
The sacking is the latest twist in the astonishing chain of events set off by Clinton deciding to use a private server while she was Secretary of State.
Last week Comey was questioned under oath about why he had written a letter to members of Congress at the end of October revealing a renewed investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified emails.
In his sworn testimony, Comey told senators that Abedin, a former top Hillary Clinton aide and Weiner’s estranged wife, made ‘a regular practice’ of forwarding ‘hundreds and thousands’ of emails to her husband, ‘some of which contain classified information.’
But the Justice Department sent the Judiciary Committee a letter late on Tuesday acknowledging that Comey’s statement was inaccurate.
The letter that ended FBI director’s career – signed at the bottom by US President Donald Trump
The FBI chief told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abedin had made ‘a regular practice’ of forwarding ‘hundreds and thousands’ of Clinton-related emails to Weiner, ‘some of which contain classified information’. But he was wrong – and is now being fired. Weiner is still being investigated by the FBI for sexting a 15-year-old girl
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to media outside the West Wing of the White House, in Washington
In a press briefing, Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer said the President ‘has accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’.
A search for a new FBI director was to begin ‘immediately,’ the White House said.
In a letter, Trump told Comey: ‘You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.
‘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.
‘It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.’
The stated reason for Comey’s dismissal – according to a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that was circulated by the White House – was for mishandling the probe into Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s emails.
But his sacking raised immediate questions about Trump’s motives.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer talks to media in front of the White House, in Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director Comey on May 9, 2017, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling
On Tuesday, Donald Trump fired the bureau’s head honcho – the man who leads the agency charged with investigating his campaign’s ties with Russia – in a move that sent shockwaves through Washington
Since the start of Trump’s presidency, the FBI chief had increasingly appeared to be a thorn in the president’s side.
He has confirmed that the agency is investigating Russian interference in last year’s presidential election and notably Moscow’s possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.
Democrats – already angry that Congressional inquiries into Russian meddling have been hamstrung by Republicans’ willingness to defend Trump – voiced sharp concerns that the FBI’s investigation may now be in jeopardy too, with several calling for an independent commission to take over the probe.
Dismissing Comey is a move that prompted parallels with a decision by a crisis-plagued Richard Nixon to fire his attorney general.
‘This is nothing less than Nixonian,’ charged Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who called Trump’s official justification for firing Comey ‘absurd’.
Comey was probing possible links between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Russia
‘That fig leaf explanation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: The president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country – one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration,’ he charged.
When Trump initially decided to keep Comey – who was appointed by Barack Obama – in his job, it raised eyebrows from critics who saw it as a tacit reward for his role in damaging Clinton’s chances.
But within months, the FBI chief was back in the national spotlight – this time taking aim at Trump.
During testimony to Congress last month, Comey flatly rejected Trump’s explosive claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor.
Comey’s public testimony – watched by millions around the world – came as Trump sought to steer the news focus by calling the question of Russian election meddling ‘fake news.’
But it had become increasingly clear that Comey had set his sights on the issue of Russia’s election meddling, which has stalked Trump’s presidency since he took office.
James Comey, who is popular among rank-and-file agents, was appointed four years ago
Clinton accused Comey of trashing her chances of becoming president by revealing an renewed investigation into her email use
Senator Patrick Leahy called Trump’s official justification for firing Comey ‘absurd’
FBI directors are appointed for a single 10-year term.
The 56-year-old Comey, who is popular among rank-and-file agents, was appointed four years ago.
He played an outsized and controversial role on the American political stage over the past year, with bombshell after bombshell that rattled both parties in Washington.
Clinton accused Comey of trashing her chances of becoming president by revealing an renewed investigation into her email use.
Comey told lawmakers last week he felt ‘mildly nauseous’ at the thought that he had swayed the election – but could not have acted any other way.