President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

WASHINGTON — President Trump stunned the political world by firing FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, an abrupt ending to a tenure marked by political controversies ranging from the Trump campaign's connections to Russia to Hillary Clinton's handling of classified emails.Basing his decision on the recommendations from both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump said in a statement that "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."The search for a new permanent FBI director will begin immediately, the White House said.In recommending Comey's firing, the Justice Department leadership excoriated the FBI director for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State. In a letter to Comey released by the White House, Trump agreed he "was not able to effectively lead the bureau."Yet Comey's sudden dismissal calls into question the future of the investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election. The FBI is currently in the midst of a full-blown counterintelligence inquiry, exploring charges of possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.Democrats — including some who had previously attacked Comey for his handling of the Clinton probe — saw Trump's move as a blatant attempt to short-circuit the Russia investigation."This is nothing less than Nixonian," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a reference to President Richard Nixon's decision in 1973 to remove the Watergate special prosecutor.And Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's decision to fire the man overseeing a federal investigation into his campaign associates' collusion with Russia "raises profound questions Continue Reading

Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

WASHINGTON - 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.”The White House said the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.Tuesday’s stunning announcement came shortly after the FBI corrected a sentence in Comey’s sworn testimony on Capitol Hill last week. Comey told lawmakers that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, had sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information.On Tuesday, the FBI said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices. Most of the email chains on the laptop containing classified information were not the result of forwarding, the FBI said.Comey, 56, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the FBI post in 2013 to a 10-year term. Praised for his independence and integrity, Comey has spent three decades in law enforcement and has been no stranger to controversy.Before the past months’ controversies, Comey was perhaps best known for a remarkable 2004 standoff with top officials in the Continue Reading

Sen. John McCain will question former FBI Director James Comey at hearing

Sen. John McCain will get a seat on the dais for one of the most highly anticipated congressional hearings in recent memory: former FBI Director James Comey's appearance this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee.McCain, R-Ariz., is chairman of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee, which also makes him an ex-officio member of the Intelligence Committee, which will hear from Comey on Thursday. Julie Tarallo, McCain's communications director, confirmed to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that McCain intends to participate and will question Comey, whom President Donald Trump fired as FBI director on May 9.Comey's termination touched off a new phase of political intrigue, which intensified after the New York Times reported May 16 that Comey documented in a memo a February Trump request that he "let go" of an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser.More broadly, the Justice Department has been investigating possible collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Russians. Robert Mueller, another former FBI director, has been named special counsel.Last month, McCain said the controversies swirling around Trump had reached "Watergate size and scale."In a subsequent interview with The Republic, McCain urged Trump to get the facts out. "These scandals, which come periodically, the best way to treat them is to have a complete and total examination and have all aspects of it revealed so we can move on," McCain said.A Tuesday CNN report suggested that McCain is not bringing any preconceived notions about Comey's testimony to the hearing."Let's see what he says," McCain was quoted by CNN as telling reporters. "I want to wait and see what he says."Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he will have no role with the Intelligence Committee hearing. Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter. Follow him on Twitter, @dannowicki. READ MORE: As Continue Reading

Sen. John McCain’s confusing questions to former FBI Director James Comey roundly panned

Sen. John McCain confused viewers Thursday with a distracted and listless line of questioning of former FBI Director James Comey.McCain, R-Ariz., later acknowledged he missed an opportunity with his erratic performance, which was widely panned on social media. He attributed it to staying up the night before to watch a late Arizona Diamondbacks game.McCain's interrogation came late in the dramatic and widely watched open Senate hearing in which Comey offered his first public testimony since Trump abruptly axed him on May 9.McCain seemed to compare Comey's decision to announce last year that no charges would be recommended against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — then the Democratic presidential nominee — over her handling of classified information and use of a private email server, and his reluctance to disclose that President Donald Trump was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe.Trump apparently sought such an announcement from Comey, who testified that he worried doing so would require him to have to publicly correct that information should the investigation take a different direction. FROM THE TESTIMONY:  James Comey takeawaysComey said a big difference was that the FBI had completed its investigation into Clinton, while the investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russians was still going on, at least as of the time he exited the agency.Earlier in the hearing, Comey unequivocally said Russians interfered in the 2016 U.S. election cycle "with purpose" and "sophistication." U.S. authorities have said Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's campaign."I'm glad you concluded that part of the (Clinton) investigation, but I think that the American people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that Russia played," McCain told Comey. "Obviously, she was a candidate for president at the Continue Reading

Fact check: Why did President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey?

Why did President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey? The president and top administration officials have offered contradictory accounts in recent days:Trump fired Comey on May 9. The White House issued a statement saying, “President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”Rosenstein wrote a two-and-a-half page memo with the subject line “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI” that stated the reasons why Comey should be removed. The memo cited Comey’s “handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton’s emails.” Rosenstein criticized Comey for holding a press conference on July 5, 2016, to publicly announce his recommendation not to charge Clinton, and for announcing on Oct. 28, 2016, that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Clinton.Comey’s firing came less than two months after the director confirmed at a congressional hearing on March 20 that the bureau is investigating “whether there was any coordination between the [Trump] campaign and Russia’s efforts” to influence the 2016 presidential election.In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified intelligence report that found “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” with the goal of hurting Clinton and helping to elect Trump.Democrats have criticized the timing of Comey’s firing, because of the ongoing investigation. But Trump administration officials said the decision had nothing to do with Russia.On the night of Comey’s firing, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, “Why fire James Comey now?” She cited Rosenstein’s letter and his bipartisan credentials, noting that he was overwhelmingly confirmed as deputy attorney general.Conway Continue Reading

Indiana leaders react to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey

  FBI Director James Comey became the latest official fired by President Donald on Tuesday. According to White House spokesman Sean Spicer, the move was based on the "clear recommendations" of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.The move comes after the FBI confirmed that Comey provided erroneous testimony to a Senate panel about Hillary Clinton's handling of classified emails.It also comes while the FBI is investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.All of this raised some serious eyebrows, with Democratic members of Congress reacting with protests and calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.Indiana's elected officials were part of those reactions."There are serious questions about the President's decision to dismiss Director Comey, while he was at the center of one of the most important FBI investigations in recent memory," read statement from the office of Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor.Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd District, seemed to support Trump's move with his tweet saying Comey had lost the trust of both parties and saying the next director needs to be nonpartisan and respected by all.Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, was critical, specifically for firing "the man investigating #RussiaHacking." South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg sent off a series of tweets critical of the move, including one calling for an independent investigation: "It grows harder by the minute for Washington to keep refusing what the vast majority of Americans want: an independent investigation."      Follow IndyStar digital content editor Leigh Hedger on Twitter: @lhedger.  Continue Reading

5 key points in memo calling for FBI Director James Comey’s firing

WASHINGTON — White House officials say President Trump based his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday on the "clear recommendations" of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.In a memo released Tuesday evening, Rosenstein sharply criticized the FBI chief, saying he mishandled the final stages of investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's treatment of classified State Department emails. The firing was needed to restore public confidence in the agency, Rosenstein concluded.At the heart of the criticism: Comey's various public pronouncements about the investigation during the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign. On July 5, Comey held a news conference in which he said no charges would be filed against Clinton. But on Oct 28, Comey announced that the probe had been reopened to examine newly discovered emails. Then, two days before before election, Comey once again weighed in, saying the department still was not recommending charges against the former secretary of State.Here are key points in Rosenstein's memo: 1. "The FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to many department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens." 2. "I cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unifies people of diverse perspectives." 3. "The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should Continue Reading

Sen. John McCain: Firing of FBI Director James Comey proves need for special investigation

Sen. John McCain on Tuesday said President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey underscores the need for Congress to form a select committee to investigate Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.McCain, R-Ariz., said he was "disappointed" Trump ousted Comey, the controversy-prone director of the FBI since 2013.“James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances," McCain said in a written statement. "I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”Trump made the decision based on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the White House said.Rosenstein faulted Comey for the way he wrapped up the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information and use of a private email server. Comey wrongly “usurp(ed) the Attorney General’s authority” when he declared on July 5, 2016, that the Clinton case "should be closed without prosecution," Rosenstein wrote in a memorandum to Sessions.McCain, the influential Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, has been pushing for a select panel to probe Russian interference in the election since last year.But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said there's no need for a special committee because he believes the standing Senate Intelligence Committee is up to the task.U.S. authorities concluded Russian hackers stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign. The stolen emails were later published via the WikiLeaks website as part of an effort to damage and embarrass the Clinton campaign.The White House's unexpected announcement that Continue Reading

Trump implies talks with fired FBI Director James Comey may have been taped

In an apparent threat, President Trump warned now-fired FBI Director James Comey not to leak to the media — implying there may be tapes of their private conversations."James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"It is not known whether Trump tapes his conversations, and White House officials have not responded to inquiries.But the tweet was a clear indication of Trump's defensiveness as the fallout continues from this week's abrupt and controversial firing of Comey, the man who was overseeing an ongoing FBI investigation into whether Trump's campaign associates colluded with Russians seeking to influence the American presidential election.Trump's tweet was one of a flurry of missive Friday morning, that included threats to cancel White House press briefings.In his short termination letter to Comey, Trump made a specific point of mentioning that he "appreciated" how the FBI told him three times he was not personally under investigation over Russia. He later elaborated, in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, that those conversations took place twice in phone calls and once at a private dinner with the FBI director.FBI officials have questioned Trump's claims, and the agency' acting director, Andrew McCabe, on Thursday said such assurances about the scope of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation would not be "standard practice.''Officials sympathetic to Comey have offered different accounts of his interactions with Trump.A New York Times report – one that may have inspired Friday's tweet — said Trump asked the FBI director to pledge personal loyalty to him during their dinner. "Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge," the Times reported. "Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not 'reliable' in the conventional political Continue Reading

Here’s what we know from the House hearing with FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers appeared Monday before the House Intelligence Committee. Here's what we know from their testimonies so far."The FBI and the Justice Department have no information to support" President Trump's claims that the Obama administration had tapped Trump's offices during the campaign, Comey said.This is consistent with what Comey has done in the past about the wiretapping claims. The day after the president first made the allegations, Comey asked the Justice Department to rebuke the claims.Additionally, committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., added: "Let me be clear, we know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it's still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.'"Comey's statement comes the week after the Senate Intelligence Committee said it had found "no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance."The FBI for the first time publicly confirmed investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. This included the revelation that Russian hackers used a third party to communicate with WikiLeaks."As you know, our practice is not to confirm ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters," Comey told the committee. "But, in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so."This, he said, was one of those circumstances.Comey and Rogers both said they were not aware of any evidence that any votes in the election were changed because of interference from Russia.Officials will probe any links between people associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russian efforts, Comey said.He noted that because the investigation is ongoing, he couldn't say anything else about what the investigation entailed or who they were Continue Reading