Late Tuesday afternoon, news broke that President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced to reporters that Comey had apparently been given the boot based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But the question is, of course, why was Sessions recommending that the president ax Comey?
Just hours before the White House officially announced that Comey would no longer be head of the FBI, that very agency had alerted Congress that Comey had made inaccurate statements in testimony before the Senate last week. Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey stated that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had forwarded "hundreds and thousands" of emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner. He added that it "appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him, for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State."
However, as the letter from the FBI noted, Comey had overstated the number of emails. In actuality, according to the FBI's findings, just a "small number" of emails had been forwarded. FBI Assistant Director Gregory A. Brower said in the letter that it was "intended to supplement that testimony to ensure that the committee has the full context of what was reviewed and found on the laptop."
Earlier on Tuesday, ProPublica was the first to report that Comey had made inaccurate claims about Abedin and the Clinton private email server probe, and that the FBI was trying to figure out the best way to "correct the record."
Both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, made recommendations that Comey's tenure at the FBI be terminated. Sessions' official recommendation stated:
As Attorney General I am committed to a high level of discipline, integrity, and the rule of law to the department of justice- an institution that I deeply respect. Based on my evaluation, and for the reasons expressed by the deputy attorney general in the attached memorandum, I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI.
Rosenstein's was, arguably, even more damning:
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 judgement 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 perspective.
In his own letter to Comey, Trump stated that "it is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission." Now, the looming question is who will be the person chosen to restore that "public trust."