President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday afternoon based on the “clear recommendations” of both the attorney general and deputy attorney general, according to the white house.
On Tuesday, shortly before the announcement, the FBI issued a two-page correction to the Senate Judiciary Committee correcting what Comey said just a week before. Comey told lawmakers that Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, many of which included classified information.
The FBI stated that only “a small number” of the emails had been forwarded. Most of them were simply backed up on electronic devices.
“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,” President Trump said in a statement.
Comey was confirmed for the head of the FBI in 2013 after a 93-1 vote in the Senate, and he has not shied away from controversy.
The White House said the search for replacement will begin immediately.
Early career and the Bush years
Comey, a New York native and graduate of the College of William & Mary and the University of Chicago Law School, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of Virginia.
In 1996, Comey served as the lead prosecutor in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. servicemen were killed when a truck bomb detonated near the eight-story building that housed members of the U.S. Air Force.
He later returned to New York to become the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he was involved in a number of high-profile cases. Comey prosecuted members of the Gambino crime family in 2002 and even brought forth charges against business mogul Martha Stewart in 2003.
In 2003, Comey was appointed by President George W. Bush as the deputy attorney general during the administration’s questionings surrounding the Patriot Act and the war on terror.
Comey, serving as the acting Attorney General, reportedly hurried to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital bed in 2004 to stand up against the Bush administration, which was allegedly trying to gather an extension of a warrantless wiretapping program.
In 2005, as attorney general, Comey signed a memorandum allowing the use of 13 “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding and sleep deprivation.
During his Senate confirmation hearing in 2013 to become FBI director, Comey conceded that, although he signed the memo, he did not think waterboarding was appropriate.
Trump, Clinton and the 2016 Election
Comey was nominated in 2013 by President Barack Obama to head the FBI. He was confirmed by a 93-1 vote by the Senate and appointed to a 10-year term.
His time as FBI director was rather quiet in terms of controversy. At least until the 2016 election.
Comey’s role in the HIllary Clinton email controversy was arguably the most notable in his brief tenure as FBI Director. In July 2016, Comey announced the FBI’s recommendation to the Justice Department that there was no basis for criminal charges against Clinton in the email scandal.
Later, just 11 days before the election, Comey informed congressional leaders that investigators were reviewing newly found emails in connection to the Clinton email scandal.
Two days before the election, Comey released a letter confirming (again) that Clinton wouldn’t charged.
But his controversy didn’t stop after that.
Comey refuted Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the Obama ordered a wiretap of his phones in Trump Tower prior to the election. Comey would later discuss alleged Russian interference in the election and the Trump campaign’s possible connections with Russia.