Trump fires FBI head James Comey

Trump fired FBI director Comey, claiming it was done to restore “public trust and confidence” in the law enforcement agency.  

US President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday, sending shock waves throughout Washington.

Trump sacked Comey amid the bureau’s investigation into allegations his campaign had ties to Russia.

After months of tumult and tension between the FBI and the White House, Trump said he was acting to restore “public trust and confidence” in the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

The administration cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which probed her use of a private email server as secretary of state, as justification for his dismissal.

Trump told Comey in a letter that he was following the recommendations of Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump wrote.

Rosenstein wrote a scathing three-page memo, titled “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI,” which slammed almost every aspect of Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe.

“The way the director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them,” Rosenstein stated.

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The memo is also significant because Rosenstein is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, since Sessions recused himself.

A Nixonian-Style Massacre?

Democrats decried the firing, comparing it to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” decision to fire the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation, prompting the resignations of the Justice Department’s top two officials. They expressed deep skepticism about the stated reasons of the firing, publicly raising the prospect of a White House effort to stymie the pressing Trump-Russia investigation.

“This is Nixonian,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa) tweeted. “Outrageous,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, calling for Comey to immediately be summoned to testify to Congress about the status of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California said the White House was “brazenly interfering” in the probe.

‘A Fresh Start’

Some lawmakers welcomed news of the dismissal.

“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well,” said Republican Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating the Russian campaign interference.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Comey served the country well, but “many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the past year. I believe new leadership at the FBI will restore confidence in the organization and among the people who do the hard work to carry out its mission.”

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Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Congress must form a special committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the election.

Former Justice Department officials and lawmakers from both parties called Comey’s revelation about Clinton’s emails just 11 days before the election an improper, astonishing and perplexing intrusion into politics in the critical endgame of the 2016 campaign.

Comey, a former Republican who is no longer registered with a political party, spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor before serving in the George W. Bush administration. His office brought the case that led to Martha Stewart’s conviction on obstruction of justice and lying to government investigators. As an assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia, he handled the investigation of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex by Islamic terrorists in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 members of the US military.

Obama, when he nominated Comey to the FBI job in 2013, cited his willingness to stand up to power “at key moments when it’s mattered most.”

Trump will now appoint Comey’s successor. The White House said the search for a replacement was beginning immediately. Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, has been named interim director.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff