White House letters on firing of FBI Director James Comey

FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey was fired in a let­ter from Pres­id­ent Trump, who said the FBI needed new lead­er­ship – and also said that Comey had, “on three sep­ar­ate oc­ca­sions,” in­formed the pres­id­ent that he was not un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion.

In dis­miss­ing Comey, Trump said he was act­ing on the re­com­mend­a­tion of At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions and Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Rod J. Ro­sen­stein.

Ses­sions said in a let­ter to the pres­id­ent that “a fresh start is needed at the lead­er­ship for the FBI” for the reas­ons ex­pressed by his deputy, Ro­sen­stein.

Ro­sen­stein, in a three-page let­ter to Ses­sions cited Comey’s con­tro­ver­sial pub­lic state­ments about the FBI’s in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails.

Among Ro­sen­stein’s con­clu­sions:

— Comey re­fuses “to ac­cept the nearly uni­ver­sal judg­ment that he was mis­taken” to go pub­lic in Ju­ly with his reas­ons for re­com­mend­ing no crim­in­al charges again Clin­ton. Dur­ing that news con­fer­ence, Comey said Clin­ton and her aides were
“ex­tremely care­less” in hand­ling clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion.
— Comey “was wrong to usurp the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s au­thor­ity” to an­nounce that the case would be closed. “The Dir­ect­or is nev­er em­powered to sup­plant fed­er­al pro­sec­utors and as­sume com­mand of the Justice De­part­ment,” Ro­sen­stein wrote.
— Comey “ig­nored an­oth­er long­stand­ing prin­ciple: we do not hold press con­fer­ences to re­lease derog­at­ory in­form­a­tion about the sub­ject of a de­clined crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tion.” Al­though such in­form­a­tion is some­times dis­closed, “we nev­er re­lease it gra­tu­it­ously.”
— The con­clu­sion that Comey ac­ted in­ap­pro­pri­ately in the Clin­ton case is shared by “at­tor­neys Gen­er­al and Deputy At­tor­neys Gen­er­al from dif­fer­ent eras and both polit­ic­al parties.”

Ro­sen­stein’s let­ter con­cludes: “The FBI is un­likely to re­gain pub­lic and con­gres­sion­al trust un­til it has a Dir­ect­or who un­der­stands the grav­ity of the mis­takes and pledges nev­er to re­peat them. Hav­ing re­fused to ad­mit his er­rors, the Dir­ect­or can­not be ex­pec­ted to im­ple­ment the ne­ces­sary cor­rect­ive ac­tions.