At the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.
A statement released by the White House included the text of Sean Spicer's press release, President Trump's letter to Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions's letter to President Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memo to Jeff Sessions.
Spicer's statement read, in part:
President Trump 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,” said President Trump.
A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.
The text of President Trump's letter to now former FBI Director James Comey confirms that he acted based on the recommendations of both Sessions and Rosenstein.
For his part in the removal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that he acted based, in part, on “reasons expressed by Deputy Attorney General [Rod Rosenstein].”
Those “reasons” start off with a declaration saying “over the past year the FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice.”
I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.
From there, the deputy AG listed a few reasons that would lead to his recommendation that Comey be removed from his position, including:
- “The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.”
- “[...] the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”
Rosenstein would then produce a list of former attorneys general and deputy attorneys general who supported his decision to press for Comey's removal. That list included Laurence Silberman (who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Ford), Jamie Gorelick (who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton), and Larry Thompson (Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush).
Thompson is quoted in Rosenstein's missive as saying that Comey “had chosen personally to restrike the balance between transparency and fairness, departing from the department's traditions.” Referring to Thompson and Gorelick's seeming joint statement, Rosenstein quotes them as saying that Comey's actions failed to live up to his prescribed obligations to “preserve, protect, and defend” the traditions of the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Others who added their opinions and voices to subject at hand included: Michael Mukasey (AG under George W. Bush), Alberto Gonzales (AG under George W. Bush), and, Eric Holder (DAG under Bill Clinton and AG under Barack Obama).
Holder claimed that Comey's decision was “incorrect. [...] And it ran counter to guidance that [he] put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season.”
Deputy Attorney General under George H.W. Bush Donal Ayer also shared his thoughts with Rosenstein, claiming that he was “astonished and perplexed” by Comey's decisions “to break with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.”
He would continue, saying “Perhaps most troubling [...] is the precedent set by this departure from the Department's widely-respected, non-partisan traditions.”
Ending his memo, Rosenstein says that “we should reject the departure and return to traditions,” then saying that he agrees with “the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials.”
“The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation as wrong," Rosenstein said, before claiming that Comey, "having refused to admit his errors [...] cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.”
President Trump's letter to Comey echoed these sentiments. He thanked Comey for “informing [him], on three separate occasions, that [he is] not under investigation,” but claimed that he agrees with the Department of Justice that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated as information becomes available.