President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey at the recommendation of Justice Department officials who said he had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly and damaged the credibility of the FBI and the main Justice Department, the Washington Post reports. Comey was leading a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of Trump may have coordinated with Russia to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. Democrats said they were concerned that his ouster could derail the investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, would be the acting FBI director.
Officials said Comey was fired because Justice Department officials concluded that he had violated DOJ principles by publicly discussing the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Democrats have argued that Comey’s decisions before the election hurt Clinton’s standing with voters and affected the outcome. Trump and his advisers argued that Comey went too easy on Clinton. Just last week, Trump accused Comey of giving Clinton “a free pass for many bad deeds’’ when he decided not to recommend criminal charges. Deputy Attorrney General, Rod Rosenstein began examining Comey’s conduct shortly after being sworn into office two weeks ago. “The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,” Rosenstein said, adding that, “Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.” Democrats linked the dismissal to the Russia probe. The Comey firing “raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) of the House Intelligence Committee, which is looking into Russian interference in the election. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called the Comey dismissal “shocking” and “Nixonian” and said it shows that a special prosecutor is necessary in the Russia investigation.