President Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, abruptly ending a rocky year-long stretch for the top law enforcement officer who came under fire for his handling of the Clinton email probe — and whose agency has been investigating whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia.
“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,” Trump said.
The president told Comey in a brief letter that he could not “effectively lead” the bureau and called for “new leadership that restores public trust and confidence” in law enforcement.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president’s decision was based on “the clear recommendations” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
A search for a new permanent FBI director will begin immediately. In a message to FBI employees, Sessions said Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s deputy director, had assumed the position of acting director.
The White House made the stunning announcement shortly after the FBI corrected a sentence in Comey’s sworn testimony on Capitol Hill last week. The director had told congressional lawmakers that Huma Abedin, as a top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information.
On Tuesday, the FBI said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.
But that error was apparently unrelated to the Comey firing. DOJ officials instead cited his handling of the Clinton probe.