Trump fires FBI director James Comey

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says FBI Director James Comey was wrong to announce his conclusion that the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information should be closed without criminal charges.

Rosenstein says in a memo that Comey usurped the authority of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch by announcing his findings. Comey was fired Tuesday.

Rosenstein says Comey should have said the FBI had completed its investigation, then presented its findings to prosecutors.

Rosenstein says Comey instead held a news conference "to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation." Comey had said Clinton should not be charged but criticized her work habits.

Rosenstein says Comey "laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without trial."


6:40 p.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley says dismissed FBI Director James Comey had lost the "public trust and confidence."

President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey Tuesday. Grassley said Comey's decisions on controversial matters "have prompted concern from across the political spectrum" and from career law enforcement experts.

Grassley criticized Comey's investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices, saying the FBI was slow to answer questions from his committee.

Grassley said: "The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost."


6:35 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says James Comey was fired from his post as FBI director because the law enforcement agency needs a "fresh start."

In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and released by the White House, Sessions says the FBI director must be someone who follows "faithfully the rules and principles" of the Justice Department. Sessions also says the individual must be someone who "sets the right example" for law enforcement officials and others in the department.

Session did not go into detail in the one-page letter dated Tuesday in which he recommended to Trump that Comey be removed as FBI director.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Tuesday that Trump had fired Comey.

Spicer says the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.


6:30 p.m.

Democrats are insisting on an independent prosecutor to investigate possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia following FBI Director James Comey's firing.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweets: "I've said it before and will again - we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI's Russia investigation. This cannot wait."

Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said "our democracy is in danger," and he pressed Speaker Paul Ryan to appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, stood on the Senate floor and said he would await word from the White House on whether the investigation will continue.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel.


6:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump called at least two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee minutes before the White House announced the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California both said they received calls from Trump. Graham is heading the panel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee.

Neither senator criticized the decision. Graham was supportive, saying that "given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well."

Feinstein said Trump told her the FBI needed a change, and that the next director "must be strong and independent."


5:46 p.m.

President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's election meddling.

In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his role in an investigation into Democrat 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. But the president did assert that Comey informed him "on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation."

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