On May 9, President Donald Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey, allegedly for mismanaging the probe into presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for using a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau," said Trump in a May 9 letter.
Before his firing, Comey led an FBI criminal investigation into ties between Trump administration officials and Russia and how those ties could have possibly influenced the 2016 presidential election, according to The New York Times.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein commented on Comey's firing, citing reasons that aligned with those expressed by the White House, according to New York Post:
The FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. 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 unites people of diverse perspectives.
Comey's investigation into Clinton's private email server did not proceed to prosecution, although the publicity was reportedly damaging to Clinton.
The saga reached a fever pitch during a July 2016 press conference, in which Comey announced that the FBI would be closing the investigation into Clinton's private email server. On Oct. 28, less than two weeks before Election Day, the FBI reopened the investigation before closing it again on Nov. 5, two days before voters went to the polls.
Both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein were cited in Trump's letter as recommending Comey's dismissal to the president.
"I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI," wrote Sessions in a memo. "I must recommend that you remove Director James B. Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI."
President Trump released a statement concurring with Sessions' stance.
"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,” stated Trump.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were skeptical of Trump's firing of Comey.
"The first question the administration has to answer is, why now?" said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. "If the administration had objections to the way Director Comey handled the Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office. But they didn't fire him then. Why did it happen today?"
"Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues," said Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin.
"I've spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing," tweeted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. "I just can't do it."