President Trump Fires FBI Director Who Was Leading Russia Investigation
President Donald Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday night, sending an earthquake-level shock through the Washington political world. The White House released the letter Trump wrote to Comey announcing his termination, which also included letters from the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommending Comey's firing.
"It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," the letter concluded.
The move is particularly controversial because Comey was in the middle of conducting an investigation into possible meddling by Russian agents in the 2016 presidential election, in which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. The FBI was also examining ties between Russia and Trump campaign operatives. In recent days, Comey had requested from the Justice Department additional funds and personnel to aid the investigation, indicating an expansion of the probe.
In a brief Oval Office interview Wednesday morning, the president told reporters he fired Comey because he "wasn't doing a good job." He also insisted it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation.
Democrats have almost universally denounced the decision, citing two other officials who were fired by Trump who were also conducting investigations into the administration. Sally Yates was the acting attorney general at the start of Trump's term; and a U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bharara, was dismissed while he was looking into stock purchases by Tom Price, who is now the secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr, and ranking Democrat, Mark Warner, have invited Comey to speak at a closed session next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already announced that there will be no independent investigation, ensuring that the political firestorm Comey's firing ignited will continue well into the future.