President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, the White House said.
"Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.
"President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions," the statement added.
It noted that a search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.
Trump sent a letter to Comey, quoted by American media outlets, in which he informed the outgoing FBI Director, “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.”
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump wrote.
Comey becomes only the second FBI chief to have been fired, noted Bloomberg News.
He had been leading an investigation into alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Comey caused an uproar among Democrats when he announced, weeks before the presidential election, that the FBI would reopen a probe into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Clinton claims that Comey’s surprise announcement was one of the factors that led to her losing the election to Trump.