WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling.
In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his role in an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year’s election.
Trump made no mention of Comey’s role in the Clinton investigation. But the president did assert that Comey informed him “on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says James Comey was fired from his post as FBI director because the law enforcement agency needs a “fresh start.”
In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and released by the White House, Sessions says the FBI director must be someone who follows “faithfully the rules and principles” of the Justice Department. Sessions also says the individual must be someone who “sets the right example” for law enforcement officials and others in the department.
Session did not go into detail in the one-page letter dated Tuesday in which he recommended to Trump that Comey be removed as FBI director.
FBI Director James Comey was speaking to agents at the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles when the news of his firing broke.
That’s according to a law enforcement official who was present at the time Tuesday. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
The official says television screens in the field office began flashing the news, and Comey initially chuckled. But he continued to speak to the agents, finishing his speech before heading into an office. He did not reappear in the main room.
Comey later left Los Angeles on a plane to return to Washington.
Democrats are insisting on an independent prosecutor to investigate possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia following FBI Director James Comey’s firing.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweets: “I’ve said it before and will again – we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait.”
Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said “our democracy is in danger,” and he pressed Speaker Paul Ryan to appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, stood on the Senate floor and said he would await word from the White House on whether the investigation will continue.
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel.
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