Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

President wrote in a letter that Comey was "not able to effectively lead the Bureau"

President Trump fired James Comey Tuesday. Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP

James Comey has been fired as the director of FBI. A statement from the White House late Tuesday said, "President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions" but did not provide a rationale for the decision. The search to replace him is to begin immediately, the statement added.

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

In a letter notifying Comey of his termination, Trump wrote, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau." He added, "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital enforcement mission."

His words echoed those of Sessions, who said that the FBI leadership needed a "fresh start" in a letter to Trump recommending Comey's removal.

Rosenstein was more specific in his own, separate letter recommending Comey's removal: "I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgement that he was mistaken."

Earlier Tuesday, the FBI was forced to release a statement correcting Comey's recent testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Comey inaccurately characterized the manner by which "hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information" ended up on former Congressman Anthony Weiner's laptop; the vast majority ended up there as a result of an automatic back-up, they were not manually forwarded, as Comey suggested.

Trump was previously on good terms with Comey, singling him out for a warm hug the day after his inauguration.