President Trump fires Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey

2017 FBI Director James Comey speaks in Washington. A person familiar with the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server says Huma Abedin did not forward

2017 FBI Director James Comey speaks in Washington. A person familiar with the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server says Huma Abedin did not forward"hundreds and thousan

President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, the latest fallout from an election-year saga that found the FBI director at the center of political controversies ranging from Trump's connections to Russian Federation to Hillary Clinton's handling of classified e-mails.

The White House said its search for Comey's successor begins immediately.

"This is nothing less than Nixonian", charged Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who called Trump's official justification for firing Comey "absurd".

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he told Trump he was making a "big mistake" by dismissing Comey, a move that prompted parallels with a decision by a crisis-plagued Richard Nixon to fire his attorney general.

Many have expressed surprise that Mr Comey should be fired for his handling of the Clinton emails investigation, given that Mr Trump once praised the FBI director's conduct in the matter.

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He said Mr Comey had been wrong to "usurp" the previous attorney general in July 2016 to announce the Clinton emails inquiry should be closed without prosecution.

According to a statement issued by the White House, the firing of Comey comes at the recommendation of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Clinton herself claimed as much last week, when she said she was "on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off".

"Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office", the statement said.

Comey should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of Russia/Trump investigation at the time he was sacked.

Merkley called for an independent special prosecutor.

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Comey has drawn criticism from the Democratic and Republican parties over the past year for the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, and the probe into Russia's meddling in the USA election.

On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that only "a small number" of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.

Just days after becoming president, Mr Trump shook Mr Comey's hand at a White House event and said "he's become more famous than me". Comey told lawmakers that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, had sent "hundreds and thousands" of emails to her husband's laptop, including some with classified information.

At the hearing last week, Comey spent hours defending his handling of the investigation of Clinton's use of a private server for work while she was secretary of state, saying it made him "mildly nauseous" to think his decisions might have affected the outcome of the presidential election, but insisting that he had no regrets and would not have handled it differently.

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