President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, saying it was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the nation's top law enforcement agency following several tumultuous months.
"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," Trump said in a statement.
The White House said the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.
The White House made the stunning announcement 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.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued the following statement,
“Congress needs to have immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General Sessions, the deputy attorney general, and FBI Director Comey. The White House was already covering up for Michael Flynn by refusing to provide a single document to Congress, and now the President fired the one independent person who was doing the most to investigate President Trump and his campaign over allegations of coordination with Russia. It is mindboggling that the Attorney General – who claimed to have recused himself – was directly involved in the decision to fire Director Comey according to the White House itself. There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job. Congress must restore credibility, accountability, and transparency to this investigation and finally pass legislation to create a truly independent commission.”
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.