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Fbi Director Fired by President Trump, Leading Many to Question Why

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FBI director fired by President Trump, leading many to question why

By Associated Press, adapted by Newsela staff on 05.12.17

Word Count 1,002 

Level 1240L 

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In this May 3, 2017, photo then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9, removing the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's interference in the U.S. election. Photo by: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump on May 9.

Only days before his firing, Comey told U.S. lawmakers that he had asked the Justice Department for more federal money. He wanted to use the money for the FBI's investigation into the Russian government's influence on last year's presidential election, three U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The FBI played an unusual role in the race for president between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Clinton was ahead of Trump based on polls and surveys during most of the election. For months, she was investigated by the FBI for her use of government email during her time as secretary of state under Obama. She had used a private email server to send important government emails, which the FBI feared put national security in jeopardy. Comey had previously said that he had found no evidence of wrongdoing. Then, days before the election, he reopened the investigation. After Clinton's loss, many Democrats blamed him and his reopening of the email investigation.

Trump's Ties To Putin Questioned

Meanwhile, several Democratic groups were hacked by Russia. This led many to question Trump’s ties to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. When Trump ultimately won the election and became president, many raised concerns about the role Russia might have played in Trump's victory. Trump has called the investigations "a hoax" and denied any campaign involvement with the Russians.

Three officials said Comey met last week with Rod Rosenstein, a leader in the Justice Department, to request more federal money to look into the Russia connection. Comey then alerted lawmakers with ties to the ongoing congressional investigations into Russia's meddling, according to the officials, who insisted on remaining anonymous.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Comey had not asked Rosenstein for money for the Russia investigation.

Why Did Trump Fire Comey?

The officials' comments raise new questions about what caused Trump to fire Comey. The White House has cited a note from Rosenstein, in which he criticizes Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices.

Rosenstein's memo makes no mention of the FBI's Russia investigation, which is looking into both Russia's hacking of Democratic groups last year as well as whether any of Trump's campaign associates had ties to the election interference.

Trump defended his decision Wednesday, insisting in a series of tweets that both Democrats and Republicans "will be thanking me" for his action. He did not mention any effect the firing might have on the investigations into connections between his 2016 election campaign and Russia.

"He wasn't doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job," Trump said in brief remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, where he was joined by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Democrats Want Answers

Democrats compared Comey's firing to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" during the Watergate investigation. At that time, Nixon fired the person investigating whether his campaign had broken the law by breaking into the Democratic National Committee's offices. Later, it was discovered that Nixon's campaign had indeed broken into the opposing party's offices.

Ironically, Kissinger, who was meeting with Trump, was Nixon's secretary of state in 1973.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rosenstein, to appear before the Senate. He wanted them to answer questions about Trump's decision to fire Comey.

However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell brushed off calls for a special prosecutor. A new investigation into Russian meddling would only be harmful to "the current work being done," he said. McConnell noted that Democrats had repeatedly criticized Comey in the past and some had called for his removal. He was not incorrect, as many Democrats felt that Comey's reopening of the investigation into Clinton's emails caused her to lose the election.

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