The Latest: Comey sends farewell letter to FBI colleagues
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey’s firing (all times local):
Former FBI Director James Comey says in a farewell letter that he does not plan to dwell on the decision to fire him or the “way it was executed.”
He says in the letter that although he’ll be fine, he will miss the FBI and its mission “deeply.”
The letter circulated among Comey friends and colleagues. It was posted online by CNN Wednesday night and a person who had seen the note confirmed the online version was authentic.
Comey also says that “in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence.”
He says that “it’s very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Qatar has tweeted an atypically critical statement about developments back home.
Dana Shell Smith tweeted early Wednesday that it is “Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.”
Smith didn’t elaborate as to what news she was referring to. Her tweet came a few hours after President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey amid an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian ties with members of Trump’s campaign.
Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon to fire a law enforcement official overseeing an investigation with ties to the White House.
Smith, a career diplomat, was confirmed as ambassador to Qatar in July 2014.
An attorney for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has declined to comment on the issuance of a subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee. The subpoena seeks documents from Flynn related to the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Flynn attorney Robert Kelner declined comment. Flynn had previously been in talks with the committee about agreeing to be interviewed as part of the investigation as long as he was granted immunity.
In March, Kelner said in a statement that Flynn had a “story to tell” but no reasonable person would agree to be questioned by the committee without “assurances against unfair prosecution.”
The panel had first requested the documents on April 28, but Flynn, through his lawyer, declined to cooperate with the request.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is defending President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Ryan says Trump lost patience with Comey, and says many Republicans, Democrats and senior Justice Department officials had lost confidence in him. The Wisconsin Republican says Trump doesn’t want the FBI “in disarray” and acted within his authority to fire Comey.
Ryan also says appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russian ties to Trump’s presidential campaign would be a bad idea.
He says the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees are already conducting investigations. Ryan says the methods and sources of intelligence gathering must be protected.
Ryan also says he doesn’t know “all that led up to this decision.”
Ryan made his remarks Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
The Senate intelligence committee has subpoenaed former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn for documents related to the panel’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, say the panel had first requested the documents from Flynn on April 28. They say Flynn’s lawyer declined to cooperate with the request.
Flynn was fired by Trump after less than a month on the job. The White House said he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Flynn’s Russia ties are also being scrutinized by the FBI as it investigates whether Trump’s campaign was involved in Russia’s election interference.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is threatening to use a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on a bill that would create an independent panel to investigate possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Pelosi says in a letter Wednesday to House Democrats that they’ll file a discharge petition if Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t call up the legislation “immediately upon our return next week.” The House is on recess this week.
A discharge petition allows a measure to be brought straight to the floor, bypassing consideration by committee. But successes are rare through this approach because a majority of House members must sign the petition.
Pelosi says the “fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership.”
Senate Democrats are united in demanding a special counsel be named to take over the federal investigation into Russia meddling in last year’s election. But they say that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who recommended the controversial dismissal of FBI Director James Comey — should not be the one to make such an assignment.
That’s the report from top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after he and his colleagues met this morning on what to do in response to Comey’s dismissal.
The Trump administration and top Senate leaders such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say a special counsel isn’t warranted, though some Republicans favor the idea.
Schumer said that Comey should still testify before Congress even though he is no longer at the FBI.
White House wants the FBI to complete its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday “we encourage them to complete investigation” so that it will be proven that “there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
Sanders said the White House does not think appointing a special prosecutor is necessary.
President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, amid an investigation into Russian ties to the Trump campaign and meddling in the 2016 election.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump is meeting with Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe later Wednesday in the aftermath of his firing of FBI director James Comey.
Sanders said during the daily White House briefing that the president will be discussing morale at the FBI. She says that rank-and-file employees of the FBI had lost faith in Comey’s leadership.
She says Trump is willing to make a personal appearance at FBI headquarters if he feels that’s necessary and appropriate.
The Senate intelligence committee has asked ousted FBI Director James Comey to appear before the committee next week.
It is the first time Comey has been asked to appear before Congress as a private citizen since he was fired by President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
Rebecca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Wednesday that Comey has been invited to meet in a closed session next Tuesday.
Comey had been slated to appear before the committee later this week to discuss ongoing threats to U.S. security. But the committee says acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe will stand in for Comey at Thursday’s hearing. Several high-ranking intelligence officials will join McCabe at that open hearing.
The White House says that President Donald Trump had considered firing FBI Director James Comey “since the day he was elected president.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that the president had “lost confidence” in Comey and acted on the advice of the deputy attorney general and others when he decided to fire him on Tuesday.
Sanders said, “I think it’s been an erosion of confidence” and that there were a lot of “missteps and mistakes” leading up to the decision to let Comey go.
More than a dozen Republican senators voiced concerns about President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, in a series of statements suggesting that, on this issue, the GOP was not yet prepared to close ranks behind its president.
The unease expressed by key committee chairs and rank-and-file lawmakers alike on Wednesday came even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed White House talking points on the issue and tried to shut down talk of a special prosecutor to investigate Russia issues.
Said West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito: “I think we need to find out what’s happened and why.”
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell noted that Democrats themselves had repeatedly criticized Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email issues. And he said that with the FBI and Senate intelligence committee already investigating Russian interference, nothing further was needed.
President Donald Trump is considering four high-ranking FBI officials to serve as the bureau’s interim director following the firing of James Comey.
Among the candidates is Andrew McCabe, who was elevated to acting director after Comey’s ouster Tuesday. A White House official says Trump is also considering assistant FBI director Paul Abbate, Chicago special agent Michael J. Anderson and Richmond, Virginia, agent Adam Lee.
The Justice Department is overseeing the interview process for the interim director, which is separate from Trump’s decision-making process on a permanent replacement.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe will appear at a Senate intelligence committee hearing on Thursday in place of ex-FBI Director James Comey.
The Senate intelligence committee has confirmed that McCabe will be at the hearing instead of Comey, who was fired on Tuesday by President Donald Trump.
The hearing is about current and projected national security threats to the United States and U.S. interests both domestically and abroad.
Others scheduled to testify are National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency. Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, who heads the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, also will be questioned by lawmakers on the committee.
The hearing will move into closed session following the open hearing.
Three U.S. officials say fired FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers that he asked the Justice Department for more money for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
President Donald Trump fired Comey Tuesday.
The officials say Comey told lawmakers he had made the request to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
The Justice Department is denying that Comey asked for more resources.
The White House has wielded a critical memo from Rosenstein to justify President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Comey on Tuesday. Rosenstein’s memo focused only on Comey’s handling of last year’s investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices. It does not mention the Russia investigation.
The officials were not authorized to disclose the meetings publicly and insisted on anonymity.
-By Julie Pace and Eileen Sullivan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR’-gay LAHV’-rahf) says it is “humiliating” for the American people to hear that Russia is controlling the political situation in the U.S.
Lavrov is speaking at the Russian Embassy in Washington after meetings with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He said Wednesday that politicians raising questions about Russian interference in the election are damaging the U.S. political system by suggesting that it is being controlled externally.
Lavrov is brushing off the questions as “noise” about Russians’ contacts with people in Trump’s campaign. He says through a translator that “there is not a single fact” or piece of compelling evidence proving Russia’s intervention in the election.
Lavrov is pointing out that Trump dismisses the controversy as “false news.”
President Donald Trump says ousted FBI Director James Comey “was not doing a good job.” It was Trump’s first public remarks about his firing Tuesday of the FBI chief.
Trump briefly spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday after a closed meeting with Russia’s foreign minister. His remarks come as the White House is defending the decision to dismiss Comey. Administration officials have said the firing was not related to the investigation into possible contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
Trump was joined by Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser under President Richard Nixon.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says there’s no need for a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign in the wake of the firing of the FBI director.
GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina says his committee has the jurisdiction and responsibility to continue its Russia investigation and “we are going to do that.”
However Burr reiterated questions about President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. “The timing of this and the reasoning for it doesn’t make sense to me.”
And, Burr said that the firing “made our task a little more difficult but it didn’t make it impossible so we’ll continue.”
Burr said he spoke to Trump but wouldn’t detail the exchange. He said they didn’t discuss his committee’s investigation
Vice President Mike Pence is defending the firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying the “president made the right decision at the right time.” He said Comey’s firing was not related to the investigation into possible contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
Pence says the administration is now looking forward to finding someone to lead the law enforcement agency.
President Donald Trump fired Comey on Tuesday. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices.
Pence says Comey had lost the confidence of the American people. He says Trump took “strong and decisive leadership” to put the safety and security of the American people first.
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says President Donald Trump told her that he was firing FBI Director James Comey because “the department is a mess.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was surprised and taken aback after Trump called her and other senators to deliver the news shortly before the White House announced Comey’s dismissal Tuesday.
Feinstein says she questions the reasoning and timing behind Trump’s decision and asked the GOP-led committee to bring in Justice Department officials to explain it.
She said what “sticks in her mind” is a classified briefing Comey delivered in March in which he laid out counterintelligence and criminal investigations the FBI is conducting into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
She said it’s clear “the FBI was taking its job seriously.”
The Senate’s Russia investigators are asking the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division for any information relevant to President Donald Trump, his top aides and campaign officials.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, told CNN that the request is part of the panel’s effort to “follow the intel no matter where it leads.” Warner’s office confirmed the senator’s comments.
The Senate intelligence committee is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.
The House intelligence committee is conducting a parallel investigation.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Russia is not concerned about Comey’s firing.
When asked how Comey’s sacking could influence Russia-U.S. ties, Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday: “This is the U.S. president’s sovereign decision which does not have anything to do with Russia and should not have anything to do with Russia.”
Russian state television network Rossiya 24 referred to President Richard Nixon’s firing of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal. It said that “the story with Comey is different.” Comey, it said, “played a good cop and fell into a trap he had set for himself.”
Senior Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov tweeted that Comey “kept an eye on the ‘Russian threat’ so hard that he did not notice the threat of his own sacking.”
Another senior lawmaker, Konstantin Kosachev, rejected suggestions that Comey’s sacking could have a Russian link. “The ‘Russian trail’ is hardly there and definitely could not have been the underlying cause for the firing of such a prominent player on the Washington scene,” Kosachev told the Interfax news agency. “Because this trail is merely a tool in the domestic political game and Trump’s stakes are more than just about the Russia issue.”
A Justice Department official says Attorney General Jeff Sessions is interviewing candidates to serve as the interim replacement for fired FBI Director James Comey.
Comey’s deputy, FBI veteran Andrew McCabe, has become acting director after Comey was fired by President Donald Trump.
But a Justice Department official says senior leaders are interviewing additional candidates who could do the job until a permanent replacement for Comey is named and confirmed by the Senate.
An announcement about Comey’s interim successor could come as soon as Wednesday.
The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the selection process by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy appear before the Senate to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.
The New York Democrat said Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should discuss why Sessions participated in the decision to fire Comey despite recusing himself and whether Rosenstein acted on his own when recommending Comey’s dismissal or whether he was order to do so by the White House.
Schumer also repeated his call for a special counsel to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
He also said the administration should answer why the president didn’t wait until the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a report on Comey’s much-criticized actions regarding the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Amid Democratic calls for a special prosecutor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a new investigation of Russia meddling could only serve to impede the current probes underway.
McConnell spoke on the Senate floor as Democratic senators gathered to try to pressure the GOP over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
McConnell didn’t give his own view on Trump’s decision to fire Comey. But he noted that Democrats had repeatedly criticized Comey in the past, and had called for his removal.
Following McConnell on the floor, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a special prosecutor.
But McConnell said: “Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation which could only serve to impede the current work being done.”
The Senate and House intelligence committees are investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
Sen. Lindsey Graham says he doesn’t believe a special prosecutor should be considered unless the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia becomes a criminal matter.
It’s now a counterintelligence investigation.
The South Carolina Republican says if it becomes “a criminal investigation where the Trump campaign may be exposed to criminal charges, then that’s the time to have that conversation.”
Graham says he’s confident the FBI’s investigation won’t be hampered by President Donald Trump’s firing of the bureau’s director, James Comey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says Moscow isn’t concerned about the firing of the FBI director.
Dmitry Peskov says Russia hopes that President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI’s James Comey won’t affect U.S.-Russia ties “in any way.”
Peskov calls it “an entirely domestic matter” for the United States.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is reacting sarcastically to questions about President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were asked during a photo-op whether Comey’s firing cast a shadow over the meeting between the two diplomats.
Lavrov said: “Was he fired? You’re kidding. You’re kidding.” Then the Russian diplomat waved his hand dismissively and exited the room alongside Tillerson.
The meeting comes amid growing concerns about Trump’s decision to fire the head of the law enforcement agency investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election and possible collusion by Trump’s campaign.
Lavrov is scheduled to meet later Wednesday with Trump at the White House.
President Donald Trump is attacking Sen. Richard Blumenthal for criticizing his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The Connecticut Democrat appeared on MSNBC and CNN Wednesday morning. On CNN, Blumenthal said that the firing had prompted a “looming constitutional crisis.”
Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was watching Blumenthal speak, calling it a “joke.” He criticized Blumenthal for past statements that he served in Vietnam, saying he “would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam - except he was never there.”
Trump said that Blumenthal “cried like a baby” when caught and that he should be investigated.
Trump has previously attacked Blumenthal over statements that he served in Vietnam. Blumenthal was in the Marine Corps Reserves at the time but did not fight in Vietnam.
President Donald Trump says that Republicans and Democrats will soon “be thanking me” for firing FBI Director James Comey.
Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Comey had “lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike.” He added: “when things calm down, they will be thanking me!”
Trump abruptly fired Comey Tuesday night. The surprise decision came amid the law enforcement agency’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign was connected to Russian meddling in the election.
President Donald Trump says fired FBI Director James Comey “will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.”
In an early-morning tweet Wednesday, Trump attacked Democrats critical of his firing of Comey.
Trump said that Democrats “have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!”
Trump abruptly fired Comey in the midst of the law enforcement agency’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign was connected to Russian meddling in the election.
Amid the clamor surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump singled out one another Washington fixture for his scorn.
The president went to his Twitter account late Tuesday to chide Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker, for comments the Democrat made about the stunning dismissal.
Trump had telephoned Schumer earlier to inform him of the decision. Schumer said he told Trump that “you are making a big mistake.” Schumer also questioned why the firing occurred on Tuesday and wondered whether investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia were “getting too close for the president.” He said unless a special prosecutor is named, Americans could rightfully wonder whether the move was “part of a cover-up.”
Trump fired back with a tweet exclaiming: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant.”
President Donald Trump’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey throws into question the future of a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia. It immediately raised suspicions of an underhanded effort to stymie a probe that has shadowed the administration from the outset.
Democrats likened the firing to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” and renewed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and some Republicans also questioned the move.
In his letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. The administration paired the letter with a scathing review by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of how Comey handled the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including his decision to hold a news conference announcing its findings and releasing “derogatory information” about Clinton.
FBI Director James Comey was speaking to agents at the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles when the news of his firing broke.
That’s according to a law enforcement official who was present at the time Tuesday. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
The official says television screens in the field office began flashing the news, and Comey initially chuckled. But he continued to speak to the agents, finishing his speech before heading into an office. He did not reappear in the main room.
Comey later left Los Angeles on a plane to return to Washington.
—By Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles