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Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey Over Handling of Clinton E-mail Issue


Updated: May 10, 2017, 9:28 AM IST
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Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey Over Handling of Clinton E-mail Issue
FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Image: Reuters)

Washington: In a decision that is likely to send shock waves through Washington, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday sacked FBI Director James Comey.

Comey had been leading an investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign's possible collusion with Russia to influence the poll outcome.

The president said he fired Comey, the top US law enforcement official, over his handling of an election-year e-mail scandal involving Hillary Clinton, Reuters reported.

Comey, 56, had been the target of criticism from many quarters for his handling of a probe involving Clinton's use of a private email server while she was US Secretary of State under Barack Obama. As recently as Tuesday, the FBI clarified remarks that Comey made on the matter last week.

Trump had originally criticized the FBI director for not pursuing criminal charges against Clinton last July, but later lavished praise on him.

There were concerns in Washington that the White House was trying to blunt the FBI probe by firing Comey.

ALSO READ | Democrats Slam Trump Sacking of FBI Chief

The White House officials maintained that there was no political motive behind the Republican President’s decision.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he spoke to Trump and told him he was "making a very big mistake" in firing Comey. He added that the president did not "really answer" in response.

Schumer said an independent investigation into Moscow's role in the presidential elections is the only way nor to restore tha faith of the American people.

Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is overseeing its own investigation into Russian interference during the election, said in a statement he was troubled by the timing of Comey's termination.

"His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation," Burr said.

US intelligence agencies concluded in a January report that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an effort to disrupt the 2016 election, with the aim of helping Trump.

Russia has repeatedly denied any meddling in the election and the Trump administration denies allegations of collusion with Russia.

Trump, in a letter to Comey released by the White House, said: "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission."

The president told Comey in the letter that he accepted the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he could no longer provide effective leadership. Comey's term was to run through September 2023. He was appointed the director by Democratic President Barack Obama in 2013.

Sessions advised Trump's campaign before being picked by the president to lead the Justice Department. Sessions had recused himself from involvement in the Russia investigation after he misstated his own 2016 contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington.

(With inputs from Reuters)

First Published: May 10, 2017, 7:06 AM IST
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