President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey. The decision, announced on Tuesday evening, was backed with letters from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In March, Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. That investigation has caught up former campaign advisor Carter Page, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Read the dismissal letters below:
One of the stated reasons for Comey's dismissal is surprising: his handling of Hillary Clinton's email scandal. Comey's letter to members of Congress about new emails found on Hillary Clinton's private email server, sent on October 28, is widely credited for tipping the election in favor of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
In his letter to the president, Rosenstein wrote that the Trump administration disagrees with Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, specifically, its ending. "I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails," Deputy A.G. Rosenstein wrote, "and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgement that he was mistaken."
"Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never releases it gratuitously," Rosenstein wrote."
However, given the FBI's ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia, some observers are skeptical that the letters outline the true motives behind Comey's dismissal. A former senior FBI official told NBC's Ken Dilanian that the Trump administration hopes to close the Trump probe by dismissing Comey.
Comey was appointed as FBI director by President Obama in 2013. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Comey "accepted the recommendation." The White House will begin the search for a new director immediately.