Trump to FBI Director: You're Fired

By Melanie Arter | May 9, 2017 | 6:08pm EDT
Former FBI Director James Comey (Screenshot of C-SPAN video)

( - Tweeting shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, President Donald Trump noted: “The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!”

On Tuesday night, Trump tweeted: "Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, "I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer." Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp"

Trump’s tweets came amid thunderous liberal outrage – playing on all the Wednesday morning news shows -- that the president would abruptly fire the man leading the FBI probe into alleged Trump-Russia coordination.

The White House announced late Tuesday afternoon that President Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, saying that the president “acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer  said in a statement.

Spicer did not mention the firing at the White House press briefing Tuesday, but when asked if the president still has confidence in the FBI director, Spicer said, “I have no reason to believe -- I haven’t asked him.  So I don’t -- I have not asked the President since the last time we spoke about this.”

​Comey's firing came as a surprise to most of Washington:

Just last week, Spicer said on Wednesday, “The president has confidence in the director.”

But in a letter to Comey on Tuesday, Trump said he received letters from the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommending that Comey be fired, and the president has accepted their recommendation.

“I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” Trump said.

“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,” the president said.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors,” he added.

The search begins immediately for Comey’s replacement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that “this was a difficult decision for all concerned.”

“I appreciate Director Comey’s service to our nation in a variety of roles,” Graham said in a statement.

“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests,” Graham added.

“President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change. The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News, “It seems to me that this may have been the inevitable conclusion of Director Comey’s decision last July to go public with the reasons that he had decided not to recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton.

“I think that he is a very well intentioned individual, but that decision to bypass the normal rules of the Justice Department, which he could have gone to the deputy attorney general, since he felt understandably that Attorney General Lynch was compromised by her decision to talk with Bill Clinton, but that decision to bypass the normal policies of the Department of Justice was probably the reason that he got embroiled in these political controversies that continue to dog him to this very day,” Collins said.

When asked why didn’t the president make the decision to fire Comey soon after the inauguration instead of the first week of May, Collins said, “ Because the Justice Department was really understaffed for a long time.

“It took awhile for the attorney general to be confirmed. His deputy was just confirmed I believe a week or so ago. It was the deputy who was a career prosecutor, who had been designated to do the analysis of the FBI director’s actions and came up with the recommendation,” she said.

Collins disputed the notion that Democrats have that Comey’s firing seems “Nixonian.” She said the president didn’t fire the entire FBI - he fired the director.

“Any suggestion that this is somehow going to stop the FBI’s investigation of the attempts by the Russians to influence the elections last fall is really patently absurd,” Collins said. “This is just one person. It’s the director. The investigation is going forward - both at the FBI and in the Senate Intelligence Committee in a bipartisan way, so I don’t think there’s any link at all.”


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