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‘You’re terminated’: Trump sacks FBI director Comey

The shock move comes days after Comey testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and a possible collusion between the country and Trump’s campaign.

President Donald Trump has fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey who was leading the investigation into whether his election campaign had ties to Russia’s alleged interference in the US polls.

In a letter, Trump told Comey that he was no longer effectively able to lead the bureau and it was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in it.

“You are hereby terminated and removed from the office, effective immediately,” Trump said in the letter.

The shock move comes days after Comey testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and a possible collusion between the country and Trump’s campaign.

In the letter, Trump acknowledged that Comey had informed him “on three separate occasions” that he was not under investigation. “I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” he added.

The White House said the search for a new FBI director would begin immediately.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) and the deputy Attorney General (Rod Rosenstein) regarding the dismissal.”

In a statement released by the White House, Trump said: “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.”

Comey had courted controversy during the 2016 presidential polls when he revealed a renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail use, which the Democrat claimed had hurt her chances of becoming president.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in his letter to Trump, criticised Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe, including the director’s decision to hold a press conference announcing its findings and releasing “derogatory information” about her.

“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgement that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein said, adding that Comey was wrong to “usurp” the Attorney General’s authority on July 5 last year and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.

In a separate letter, Sessions said he has concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI, based on his evaluation as well the reasons expressed by the Deputy Attorney General.

“It is essential that this Department of Justice clearly reaffirm its commitment to longstanding principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of federal investigations and prosecutions,” Sessions said. 

Democrats slam Trump sacking of FBI chief

US Democrats have reacted angrily to President Donald Trump’s decision to sack FBI Director James Comey, saying it raises serious questions as the agency is investigating his election campaign’s alleged links to Russia’s meddling in the US polls.

“I told the president, ‘Mr President, with all due respect you are making a big mistake,’” the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, told reporters.

The Senate Minority Leader demanded that the Department of Justice appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations of Russian hacking and its influence on the 2016 elections.

“The American people need to have faith that an investigation as serious as this one is being conducted impartially, without a shred of bias. The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless, independent special prosecutor,” he said.

Schumer also questioned the timing of the shock decision, which came days after Comey testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and a possible collusion between the country and Trump’s campaign.

“If the administration had objections to the way Director Comey handled the Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office. But they didn’t fire him then. Why did it happen today?” he asked.

“Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president? It is troubling that Attorney General Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russian investigation, played a role in firing the man leading it,” he said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said Comey’s dismissal is extremely troubling.

“President Trump fired the man investigating him and his cohorts. I strongly support calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor,” he said.

Terming the move as “nearly unprecedented”, Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said it was extremely disturbing that the chief executive is interfering with an ongoing investigation into his administration by firing the person charged with conducting it.

“One cannot help but be reminded of President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. This action only raises further questions regarding the administration’s ties to Russia,”Krishnamoorthi said.

Republican Senator John McCain, Chairman of Armed Services Committee said he is disappointed by Trump’s decision to dismiss Comey.

“James Comey is a man of honour and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances. I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” he said. 

“The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee,” McCain said. 

Image: FBI Director James Comey is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Source: Rediff