From the WSJ:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, citing his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, but prompting questions from critics about the impact on the FBI probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The White House said Mr. Trump informed Mr. Comey he had been terminated on Tuesday afternoon, after accepting the recommendations of Attorney G
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Mr. Trump wrote in a letter to Mr. Comey.
The dismissal immediately drew criticism from Democrats, many of whom called for an independent investigation into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. The FBI is currently investigating whether members of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign collaborated with the Russian government to influence the presidential election. Mr. Trump and his staff have dismissed allegations of Russian collusion, and Russia has denied interfering in the election.
Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, in an interview called for Mr. Comey to testify in front of the committee about the status of the investigation and whether or not he thought his dismissal was linked to it.
“This is Nixonian,” Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said in a statement.
Some Republicans also expressed concern about the timing of Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said in a statement: “His removal at this particular time will raise questions.”
Sen Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in a statement said that Mr. Comey’s actions in recent months had “prompted concern from across the political spectrum,” and said that the FBI, under Mr. Comey’s leadership, had “been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide.”
Mr. Rosenstein said in his letter recommending Mr. Comey’s dismissal that the FBI director shouldn’t have spoken publicly last summer after closing an investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server. He also criticized Mr. Comey’s decision to announce, days before the November election, that the investigation had reopened. Mr. Comey’s comments on the investigation roiled the presidential contest between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump.
“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote. “Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”
In the context of announcing that the investigation had reopened, “silence is not concealment,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote.
“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,” he wrote. “Having refused to admit his errors, the director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.”
A statement released by the White House 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.” The White House said the search for a new permanent director would “begin immediately.”
In his letter to Mr. Comey, the president wrote, “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.”
Michael Kortan, Mr. Comey’s top spokesman at the FBI, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
The president has had a complicated relationship with Mr. Comey, whose actions Mrs. Clinton has blamed for Mr. Trump’s victory. Mr. Trump lambasted the FBI director on the campaign trail when he announced that the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails had closed last summer, and lauded him when he later said it had reopened.
Mr. Comey has said he stands by his decisions, saying last week in testimony before the Senate: “I don’t have any regrets.”
Since Mr. Trump was sworn in, Mr. Comey has testified that he expects foreign governments to continue targeting U.S. elections after Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign. “One of the lessons the Russians may have drawn from this is that this works,” he said before the Senate last week.
A senior administration official said Mr. Trump had “lost confidence” in Mr. Comey.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement thanked Mr. Comey for his years of service to the country but said that a change in leadership at the bureau might be the best possible course of action.
“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests,” said Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican.
In Tuesday’s news briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked whether the president still had full confidence in Mr. Comey. “I have no reason to believe—I haven’t asked him,” Mr. Spicer said.
Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, declined to say whether he was now in charge of the bureau. “I have no comment,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
When asked about Mr. Comey’s July 2016 disclosures in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month, Mr. Rosenstein said prosecutors generally only spoke in court, or as prescribed by Justice Department rules.
“My philosophy is we conduct our investigations, and do our talking in court. Now there are exceptions to that … there are times when it is appropriate for us to communicate publicly … the information we report publicly, is information we are allowed to report publicly under Department of Justice guidelines,” Mr. Rosenstein said.