President Donald Trump has dismissed FBI Director James B. Comey, according to Sean Spicer, White House spokesman. The decision stemmed from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that Comey had mishandled Hillary Clinton's email probe.
President Donald Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey
Before being fired, Comey was investigating whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to sway the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Comey's exit makes it unclear how the investigations will move forward.
"The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Spicer told reporters. He also said that Comey had been notified about it "a short time ago." The dismissal is effective immediately.
To justify the dismissal, Trump cited Comey's handling of the email-related issues involving then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, despite wide belief that he himself had benefited from the probe.
Comey was delivering a speech to FBI employees in Los Angeles when he learned he had been dismissed. During his delivery, TV screens started flashing the announcement. Shortly afterward, the FBI received a formal letter notifying Comey's dismissal.
The sudden and abrupt dismissal is raising questions over whether Trump is attempting to influence the Russia investigation. However, Trump said that he was merely following the Justice Department's recommendations, which concluded that Comey had violated Justice Department principles and procedures by discussing in public Hillary Clinton's private email usage.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York stated that Trump had called him prior to inform him of the dismissal. He told him that he was making "a very big mistake." To which Trump didn't respond, according to Schumer.
Several democrats, in light of the dismissal, are now calling for an independent prosecutor to supervise the Russia investigation. Trump's fiercest critics echo the notion, saying the dismissal showed the need for an independent probe into the Trump campaign's alleged collaboration with Russia to meddle with the 2016 elections.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon stated in a Twitter post that James Comey should be compelled to testify in a public hearing regarding the status of the Russia investigation at the time of his dismissal.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey reiterated the importance of appointing an independent special counsel to supervise the Russia investigation.
"Now it's even more important that an independent special counsel is appointed to investigate the Russian interference in our elections," Booker said in a tweet.
But different parties drew different reactions. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, also chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation was "a clear example of how Comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI."
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, also a Senate Intelligence Committee member, stated during a Fox News interview that Trump merely fired Comey and not the entire bureau.
"[A]ny suggestion that this is somehow going to stop the F.B.I.'s investigation of the attempts by the Russians to influence the elections last fall is really patently absurd."
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida thinks so too.
"I don't think it will have an impact, certainly not on the Intelligence Committee's work."
On Twitter, the spate of conversation is significantly less formal, with the dismissal drawing either outrage or support from different parties.
Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN, called the dismissal a "grotesque abuse of power."
"This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies, that when there is an investigation that reaches near the President of the United States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation."
Kurt Eichenwald, senior writer for Newsweek, noted what he thinks is the hypocrisy of conservatives.
It's amazing same conserve who went nuts because Bill Clinton visited a friend on the tarmac are "meh" about trump firing comey. Hypocrites
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) May 10, 2017
Over at Politico, legal experts are attempting to analyze Comey's dismissal, specifically whether it could mark as a peril to the U.S. Constitution. Here are some other reactions brought on by Trump's dismissal of Comey:
Had #Comey understood that his job was to arrest on prob cause, and not be a bench trial judge dismissing charges, he'd still have a job. — John Cardillo (@johncardillo) May 10, 2017
. @realDonaldTrump fired an FBI Director that kept messing up. And D.C. is freaking out that someone actually got fired. Keep going, DJT! — Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 10, 2017
Yates: FIRED. Bharara: FIRED. Comey: FIRED. Anyone who investigates POTUS or his allies is taken out by the White House. It's *un-American*.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) May 10, 2017
Now that Comey is gone, can we put the Clintons in prison for their crimes now? — Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 10, 2017