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FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for his handling of Clinton's email


Comey refuses to answer bipartisan questions from senators, saying he's a private citizen

WATCH | President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. How did we get here?

President Trump accepted a recommendation from top Justice Department officials encouraging the 45th-commander-in-chief to fire FBI Director James Comey, citing his handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. 

"...I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," Trump's termination to Comey read. 

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The stunning and unexpected announcement surfaced the same day as the FBI's letter to Congress acknowledging that Comey had "misspoken" in his sworn testimony before the Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill last week.

During the hearing, Comey had said that one of Clinton's top aides, Huma Abedin, had sent "hundreds and thousands" of classified emails to her husband, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. In reality, only a few classified emails were sent to Weiner.

Minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer noted the particular timing of the ousting. "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 continued that this reasoning doesn't seem "logical or persuasive," hinting at a possible cover-up.

Schumer also noted that Comey's termination comes in the midst of the FBI's investigation into Trump's ties to Russian officials.

Sen. Mark Warner, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also found the unexpected termination as concerning.

"It is deeply troubling that the President has fired the FBI director during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia," a statement read.

On May 3, 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer reiterated Trump's "confidence" in the director during a press briefing.

In his letter to Trump, newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, however, explained that he "cannot defend" Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Rosenstein was referring to a July 5, 2016, press conference when Comey had announced that the FBI would not pursue criminal charges of Clinton. But, in the waning days of the 2016 email investigation, Comey announced that he was re-opening the investigation. 

In a separate letter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from investigations involving Russia, echoed Rosenstein's statement, saying that a "fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI."

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Comey was sworn in as Director of the FBI in 2013 for a ten-year tenure. The search for a replacement "will begin immediately," the White House noted. His replacement only requires approval by 51 senators. 

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