WASHINGTON —President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, saying it was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the nation’s top law enforcement agency following several tumultuous months.
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
The White House said the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.
The White House made the stunning announcement shortly after the FBI corrected a sentence in Comey’s sworn testimony on Capitol Hill last week. Comey told lawmakers that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, had sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information.
In Seattle, David Gomez, a former FBI agent who ran national security programs for the bureau in Seattle, thinks there’s more to the story.
“I think the more covert reason is there must be some concern within the administration regarding the progress surrounding the investigation, the Trump campaign and the election,” says Gomez. Gomez says the firing makes the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case inevitable. “And I think down the line it could be a turning point for the Trump administration, I think that they’ve unleashed a sleeping giant that he won’t be able to contain.”
On Tuesday, the FBI said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices. Most of the email chains on the laptop containing classified information were not the result of forwarding, the FBI said.
Comey, 56, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the FBI post in 2013 to a 10-year term. Praised for his independence and integrity, Comey has spent three decades in law enforcement and has been no stranger to controversy.