Trump fired FBI chief for 'insubordination'

This article is more than 12 months old

Trump was angry Comey declined to tell him what he was going to tell Congress

WASHINGTON: The anger behind Mr Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday had been building for months, but a turning point came when Mr Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a Senate panel, White House officials said.

Mr Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had wanted a heads-up from Mr Comey about what he would say at a May 3 hearing about his handling of an investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server.

When Mr Comey refused, Mr Trump and his aides considered that an act of insubordination and it was one of the catalysts to Mr Trump's decision this week to fire him, the officials said. "It gave the impression that he was no longer capable of carrying out his duties," one official said.

Previews of congressional testimony to superiors are generally considered courteous.

The White House claimed Mr Comey's firing was motivated solely by concerns over his handling of the high-stakes probe into Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

A US official said the president had been "losing confidence" in his FBI chief for several months, and that after watching Mr Comey testify before Congress as part of the Russia probe last week Mr Trump was "strongly inclined to remove him".

The president personally defended his summary dismissal of Mr Comey and rejected suggestions it was linked to the Russia investigation.

"He wasn't doing a good job, it's very simple, he was not doing a good job," Mr Trump told reporters as hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the White House chanting "shame on you!"

Mr Trump's comments came shortly after he hosted Russia's top diplomat at the White House, in his highest-level Kremlin encounter since taking office.

Mr Comey was measured about the abrupt turn of events in a letter to FBI agents and colleagues, urging them not to be concerned for him.

"I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either," he said.

It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply. Mr James Comey in a letter to former FBI colleagues

"It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply," he wrote. "In times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty and independence," he added.

The White House yesterday slapped down calls for a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that Mr Trump's campaign colluded with Russia.

Furious Democrats, however, suggested the FBI's work will now be hopelessly tainted and demanded a special prosecutor akin to those appointed during Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal or the run-up to Bill Clinton's impeachment.

"We don't think it's necessary," said White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.- WIRE SERVICES

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