U.S. President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, saying
he is no longer able to effectively lead the agency.
"It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores
public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," Trump
said in a letter to Comey released by the White House late Tuesday.
A search for a new FBI director will begin "immediately," the White
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, "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."
FBI directors are appointed for a single 10-year term. The 56-year-old
Comey was appointed four years ago.
Earlier Tuesday, the FBI notified Congress that Comey overstated a key
finding in the investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails during
his congressional testimony last week. It said Comey erred when he told
a congressional investigative panel that a Clinton aide, Huma Abedin,
had sent "hundreds and thousands" of Clinton's emails from the 2009 to
2013 period she was the U.S. secretary of state to Abedin's estranged
husband, disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner. The actual number was far
fewer, officials said.
played a pivotal role in last year's U.S. presidential election, in
which Trump defeated Clinton.
Last July, Comey said Clinton was "extremely careless" in her handling
of national security emails while she was the country's top diplomat,
but that no criminal charges were warranted.
Then, in late October, just before the election, Comey said he was
reopening the investigation because the FBI had discovered the Clinton
emails on Weiner's computer.
Clinton blamed Comey's reopened probe so close to Election Day on
November 8 as one of the reasons she lost the election. Two days ahead
of the election, the FBI director said that after investigators reviewed
the new batch of emails it had found nothing new and upheld its original
finding that no criminal charges should be filed against Clinton.