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FBI Director James Comey Out: What It Means for Russia Investigation

05-10-2017
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James Comey AP 2

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump shocked the nation Tuesday night and abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the middle of an investigation into Russia's suspected meddling in last year's election.

Just last week, Comey testified before Congress about the FBI's investigation of Russia's meddling in the United States election.

He also spoke about the agency's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

In a letter to Comey, Trump said the decision was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI.

Comey has been the target of intense scrutiny for his role in an investigation into Clinton's emails that rocked November's elections. 

Comey announced last year that while Clinton's actions surrounding her email raised concerns, he decided to close the case without prosecution. 

The White House says the search for Comey's replacement will begin immediately. 

"The FBI is one of our nation's most cherished an respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement," Trump said. 

Trump’s decision to sack the FBI director was based on a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"The director of the FBI must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles of the Department of Justice," Sessions wrote in a letter to the president.  "Therefore, I must recommend that you remove Director James B. Comey Junior."

While a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein applauds Comey for being "an articulate and persuasive public speaker about leadership" he adds that he "cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails."

"Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives," Rosenstein wrote.

President Trump has been critical of Comey, suggesting that his actions during the Clinton email investigation helped his former rival. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton blamed the director for contributing to her loss of the presidency. 

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning "Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!

However, not everyone agrees Comey should have been fired.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., believes the timing of Comey's firing is suspicious, considering he was supposed to lead the investigation into the Trump administration's alleged involvement in Russia. 

"The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless independent special prosecutor," Schumer told reporters at the Capitol.

"If Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up," he warned.

The big question now involves the current FBI investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

Sessions had to recuse himself after news reports revealed he had undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador last year.

No doubt it's going to be a real test for both the FBI and The Department of Justice.

For now, the acting FBI director is Andrew McCabe, who was Comey's deputy prior to his firing. The attorney general will likely name an interim FBI director in the coming days amid the search for a permanent replacement.

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