FBI Director James Comey has been under the microscope for months. Democrats were infuriated with him for informing Congress that the FBI would be reviewing new emails found on a laptop that we eventually found out belonged to Anthony Weiner, husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin on October 28, 2016. Republicans were mad that after disseminating what the FBI probe found during their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use, where he said the former first lady and her staff should have known better when it comes to handling sensitive government documents, that he refused to press charges. The FBI became a focal point for the 2016 cycle since Clinton used an unsecure and unauthorized private email server for official State Department business while serving as our top diplomat. That led to the allegations that she might have mishandled classified information and put our national security at risk.
BREAKING: White House announces President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.— The Associated Press (@AP) May 9, 2017
The FBI director was brought before Congress multiple times to address concerns and questions relating to the email investigation. The latest ended with Mr. Comey reportedly misstating the facts about Huma Abedin use of her husband’s laptop. He said last week that Abedin was forwarding hundreds of thousands of emails to that laptop, some of which contained classified information, for Weiner to supposedly print out. It was later revealed that this wasn’t entirely accurate. The FBI clarified the testimony before Mr. Comey was terminated by the Trump White House (via NYT) [emphasis mine]:
The F.B.I. sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday clarifying testimony last week by its director, James B. Comey, about how classified information ended up on the laptop of the disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner.
Mr. Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that during the F.B.I.’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, officers uncovered evidence that Mrs. Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, had “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information” to Mr. Weiner, her husband.
But while some of the emails were forwarded, the F.B.I. told Congress that it was likely that the vast majority were instead backed up to Mr. Weiner’s laptop.
In the end, the U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General recommended to President Trump that Mr. Comey be dismissed. The president obliged.
BREAKING: WH statement. Letter from Trump to Comey. And AG Sessions recommendation. pic.twitter.com/BPjIJ4MVvH— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) May 9, 2017
In a letter to Mr. Comey, President Trump wrote, “I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending you dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.
While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.
It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, citing the memorandum written by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, recommended Mr. Comey's dismissal for how he conducted himself during the Clinton probe. Rosenstein said in the memo that he couldn't defend the FBI director's handling of the investigation. Fox News’s Catherine Herridge says her sources told her that Mr. Comey’s tenure had put the Bureau’s reputation in disrepute and that a crisis in confidence had arisen as the allegations of partisanship lingered.
Last month, The New York Times had a lengthy piece about the history of Mr. Comey’s decision-making process regarding the investigation, including the tidbit that he felt then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch was trying to downplay the nature of the investigation, which was a criminal one. It also said that the FBI was able to see from time to time what the Russians were gleaning from us and found a document from a Democratic operative that expressed confidence that Lynch wouldn’t take the email probe too far. If this was leaked, Mr. Comey felt the investigation's credibility would be harmed. The 20-30 minute meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton was the point of no return for Mr. Comey. He was going to do a presser on July 5 and detail the contents of the investigation. The chastising of the former first lady was done to show that the then-Democratic-led DOJ was not playing favorites with Clinton. Mr. Comey also wanted to detail the extent of Russian interference in an op-ed during the summer of 2016. The Obama White House shut down that course of action. Mr. Comey alienated both sides of the aisle. Made many enemies as well it would seem. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place: sit on the revelation of these new emails until after the election and be accused of burying possibly critical information about a presidential candidate relating to national security, or disclose the renewed probe, which is the course the FBI took, as quickly as possible in which he would also be accused of playing politics. He knew both decisions would be bad, though he felt the latter would be less catastrophic.
An FBI sources tells me it is "unprecedented" for Director Comey to be fired- last director fired was in the 90s for ethical violations— Brooke Singman (@brookefoxnews) May 9, 2017
More: Senior Justice & FBI officials tell CNN they were unaware, shocked by Comey's firing.— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 9, 2017
Mr. Comey is only the second person to be fired from leading the FBI. In January, it was reported that he was the subject of a review conducted by the DOJ’s inspector general. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement, noting Mr. Comey’s actions over the course of the past several months has caused the FBI to lose the trust of the American people.
“Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey's decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts.
“The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI. In my efforts to get answers, the FBI, under Comey's leadership, has been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide.
“The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.
“The FBI Director serves at the pleasure of the president. Under these circumstances, President Trump accepted the recommendation of the Justice Department that the Director lacked the confidence needed to carry out his important duties.”