President Trump has dismissed FBI Director James Comey, according to a statement today by the White House. According to press secretary Sean Spicer, the move came at the request of the Department of Justice, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein, as a direct result of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case.
In a recent memo, Rosenstein argued the case fundamentally compromised Comey’s position. “I cannot defend Comey’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary Clinton’s emails,” the memo reads. “Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives”
Comey recently came under fire in the press for making inaccurate statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the case.
Comey was a driving force in the San Bernardino case last year, which centered on a locked iPhone belonging to the perpetrator of a mass shooting. Prosecutors believed the phone could contain vital clues in the case, particularly any links the killer had to international terrorist organizations — but the phone’s default encryption prevented investigators from gaining access to data stored locally on the device. The government sought to compel Apple into breaking the device’s encryption through a specially coded version of the operating system, a proposal the company found unacceptable. The result was a month-long legal standoff between Apple and federal law enforcement, ultimately ending in a stalemate when investigators found an alternate way into the device. Trump was a vocal supporter of the FBI throughout the case.
Comey has also been deeply involved in the investigation into possibly criminal conduct by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned in February amid concerns of undisclosed contact with the Russian government. Flynn ultimately stepped down as a result of the scandal, but the possible charges against him have been a source of continuing difficulty for the Trump Administration.
Some have already seized on the abrupt firing as an ominous sign for the ongoing Russia investigation, including Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “This is Nixonian,” Casey said in a statement on the news. “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.”