Trump fires FBI Director James Comey
President Donald Trump fired Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey, according to a statement issued by the White House press office on Tuesday.
Comey was terminated a week after he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI’s investigation on the Russian government’s interference during the 2016 presidential election.
In his letter to Comey, Trump stressed that he was not under investigation for colluding with the Russians.
“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,” wrote Trump.
The White House claimed that Trump’s decision was “based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions”.
According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, Rosenstein and Sessions recommended Comey’s removal for his “handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton’s emails”.
Read more: FBI investigation clears Clinton again
During the Senate hearing on May 3rd, Comey defended his decision to inform Congress on October 28, 2016 that he was re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s emails after new messages were discovered on the computer belonging to former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin. The FBI cleared Clinton again two days before the election.
Sessions was forced to recuse himself “from any existing or future investigations of any matter related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States” in early March. It appeared that Sessions’s recommendation to remove Comey violated his recusal pledge.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) dismissed Trump’s “transparent pretext” for firing Comey.
“President Trump claimed to remove the FBI Director because his unfair treatment of Secretary Clinton. This does not pass the laugh test and we know it’s not true,” said Leahy on the Senate floor yesterday. “President Trump celebrated Director Comey’s mistakes in handling the Clinton email investigation…Yet now the president would have us believe the same events compelled him to fire the FBI Director, more than six months after it had occurred. This unbelievable claim if it wasn’t so sad it’d be laughable.”
Leahy warned that Trump’s actions have “pushed our country to the edge of a constitutional crisis” that is “more complex, potentially more threatening” than even Watergate.
“Our nation is at a precipice. There is a counter-intelligence investigation into the campaign and an administration of a sitting president. There is evidence that that campaign colluded with a foreign government, a foreign government that is an adversary of ours, to sway our presidential election. Now, the president has fired the lead investigator, FBI Director Comey, under what any fair-minded person would say is absurd and false pretenses,” said Leahy. “Now, there are several inquiries under way into Russian interference and collusion with Russia in the elections. But the president fired the head of the only investigation that could bring criminal charges. In fact, there has just been a report that came just days after Director Comey asked for additional funds for the investigation. None of this is normal. Something I have never seen in a Republican or Democratic administration, and we can’t treat it as such.”
Leahy urged his colleagues to “put country over party” and called for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to lead the investigation between the Russians and Trump’s administration and campaign.
“No person, no president should be above the supremacy of the rule of law,” said Leahy. “This is not just a scandal. The president’s actions are neither Republican or Democratic. They’re authoritarian. This is an effort to undo the ties that bind our democratic form of government.”