WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – FBI Director James Comey has been fired by President Donald Trump, the White House announced Tuesday.
The news comes as the FBI is in the middle of an investigation into the president’s associates’ ties with Russia.
In a letter to Comey, Trump wrote that the firing was necessary in order to “restore public trust and confidence” in the FBI.
Comey had been under intense scrutiny in the past few months for his role in an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year’s election.
Trump made no mention of Comey’s role in the Clinton investigation in the letter, but added that Comey had told him “on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the search for a new FBI director begins immediately.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that the he told the president “You are making a big mistake” when Trump called him to inform him that he was firing Comey.
Schumer questioned why the firing occurred on Tuesday and wondered whether investigations into Trump’s ties with Russia were “getting too close to home” for the president.
He called on the deputy attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for the investigation.
“This investigation must be run as far away as possible” from the president, Schumer said.
Congressman Chris Collins (R-27) said in a statement Tuesday that he respects Trump’s decision at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The Director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president,” Collins said. “I am confident he and Attorney General Sessions will select an individual to lead the Bureau with the integrity and professionalism the American people expect and deserve.”
Congressman Brian Higgins (D-26) said Tuesday that the firing of Comey raises “serious questions about this administration’s respect for the rule of law and further underscores the critical need for a full and formal independent investigation into Russian interference.”
“The longstanding tradition of a balance of power and public expectations of truth and transparency at the core of our government is at stake,” Higgins added.