Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a criminal investigation into whether the president’s advisors colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of last year’s presidential election.
On Tuesday, the president cited Comey’s management of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server as justification for his removal. Comey’s last-minute announcement that the FBI had reopened the email investigation delivered a blow to her presidential campaign and Clinton herself has said that Trump benefitted from Comey’s intervention in the campaign.
But democrats have cried foul, saying that the move is reminiscent of the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal. Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate, has told Trump he is making “a very big mistake”—and has called for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s alleged Russian ties.
High profile Republicans have also condemned the sacking of the US’s top law enforcement official. Richard Burr, a Republican leading the Senate intelligence committee investigation into Russian interference in the election, has said that he is “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of the decision.
The sacking was recommended to Trump by attorney general Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. A letter from the President informed Comey: “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.”
It stated that he had been “terminated and removed from office.” It is not known who will replace him; deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe has been made acting director until further notice.
Trump himself has commented only once since the story came to light, using his personal and presidential Twitter accounts to criticise Schumer’s comments.
Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp
The development is the latest in a long series of controversies linking Russia and the US President—many of which are still bubbling away.
On Tuesday, a grand jury begun issuing subpoenas to people linked with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser at the centre of allegations that Trump administration’s colluded with Russia. Flynn stepped down after misleading senior White House officials about discussions he had with the Russian ambassador to the US.