President Donald Trump announced the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the man who is responsible for the bureau’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year’s election. The administration attributed Comey’s dismissal to his handling of the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, but many suggested the reason behind his dismissal was that Comey was getting too close to the White House with the Russia probe.
The news caught Comey by surprise as it flashed on television screens in the room as he spoke to FBI agents at an event in Los Angeles. His firing is the first dismissal of an FBI chief since 1993 when President Clinton ousted William Sessions as FBI director after Sessions refused to voluntarily step down amid ethical concerns.
President Trump stated in a letter to Comey that he agrees with his Department of Justice’s assessment that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” Those findings, specifically from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, stem from Rosenstein’s belief that Comey mishandled the Clinton investigation.
Trump’s actions were a turnaround from his stance just seven months ago on the campaign trail, when he repeatedly praised Comey for reopening the investigation into the scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Just days away from the election, Comey sent a letter to Congress stating that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Clinton. The decision was made because of its investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is married to Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. Comey followed up days later with another letter, informing Congress that the FBI didn’t find anything and continued to believe Clinton’s practices were reckless but did not merit any criminal charges.
After Clinton’s loss, former President Bill Clinton blamed Comey for it. Hillary Clinton herself told CNN “I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off.”
A senior white house official said that a replacement will be announced in the coming days. Some possible candidates include Ray Kelly, Chris Christie, David Clarke, Trey Gowdy. Ray Kelly has a 47 year career within the NYPD. He served as Police Commissioner from 1992 to 1994 and again from 2002 to 2013. Chris Christie is the current governor of New Jersey and is a former Republican-appointed United States attorney in New Jersey. David Clarke is currently serving his fourth full term as the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, a position he has held since 2002. Trey Gowdy is a Replublican U.S. Respresentative for South Carolina and a former federal prosecutor. He led the House committee investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi investigation.