FBI Director James B. Comey's termination: Letters from the White House, Attorney General

Below: Statement from the White House, President Trump's letter to Comey, letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein FBI Director James B. Comey's termination: Letters from the White House, Attorney General

Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2017
Statement from the Press Secretary
Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been
terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear
recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff
aThe FBI is one of our Nationas most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a
new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,a said President Trump.
A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.



May 9. 2017

Dear Director Cotney:

I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of
the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director ofthe Federal Bureau of
Investigation. 1 have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and
removed from of?ce. effective immediately.

While I greatly appreciate you informing me. on three separate occasions. that I am not under
investigation, I nevertheless concur with thejudgment ofthe Department ofJustice 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.

wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Donald J. Trump

@ffirr at the
Washingtun?. 20530

May 9, 2017

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As AttOrney General, lam 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. It
is essential that this Department of Justice clearly reaffirm its commitment
to longstanding principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of federal
investigations and prosecutions. The Director of the FBI must be someone
who follows faithfully the rules and principles of the Department of
Justice and who sets the right example for our law enforcement officials
and others in the Department. Therefore, I must recommend that you
remove Director James B. Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and
qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.


Jeff Sessions
Attorney General


U. S. Department of Justice

Of?ce of the Deputy Attorney General

The Deputy Attorney Geniernl llr?nrhiuytun. DC. 20.530

May 9, 2017





The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been regarded as our nation?s premier federal
investigative agency. Over the past year, however, the Bl?s reputation and credibility have suffered
substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to
many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens.

The current FBI Director is an articulate and persuasive speaker about leadership and the
immutable principles of the Department of Justice. He deserves our appreciation for his public
service. As you and I have discussed, however, 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 judgment 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 perspectives.

The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General?s authority on July 5, 2016, and
announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the
function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said
the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its ?ndings to federal prosecutors. The
Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta
had a con?ict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and
assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other
officials to step in when a con?ict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5,
however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation?s most sensitive criminal
investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.

Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not
hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal
investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal
investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his
version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a
textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.

Memorandum for the Attorney General Page 2
Subject: Restoring Public Con?dence in the Federal Bureau of Investigation

In response to skeptical questions at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his
remarks by saying that his ?goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what
do we think about it.? But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our
thoughts at a press conference. Tito goal is to determine whether there is suf?cient evidence to
justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority
delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then if prosecution is
warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts. We sometimes release information about
closed investigations in appropriate ways, but the FBI does not do it sua sponte.

Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision
as a choice between whether he would ?speak? about the decision to investigate the newly-
discovered email messages or ?conceal? it. ?Conceal? is a loaded term that tnisstates the issue.
When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing
anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-
public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.

My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy
Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties. Judge Laurence Silberman, who
served as Deputy Attorney General under President Ford, wrote that ?it is not the bureau?s
reSponsibility to opine on whether a matter should be prosecuted.? Silbertnan believes that the
Director?s ?performance was so inappropriate for an FBI director that [he] doubt[s] the bureau
will ever completely recover.? Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President
Clinton, joined with Larry Thompson, Deputy Attorney General under President George W.
Bush, to opine that the Director had ?chosen personally to restrike the balance between
transparency and fairness, departing from the department?s traditions.? They concluded that the
Director violated his obligation to ?preserve, protect and defend? the traditions of the
Department and the FBI.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George W.
Bush, observed that the Director ?stepped way outside his job in disclosing the recommendation
in that fashion" because the FBI director ?doesn?t make that decision." Alberto Gonzales, who
also served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush, called the decision ?an error
in judgment.? Eric Holder, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton and
Attorney General under President Obama, said that the Director?s decision ?was incorrect. It
violated long-standing Justice Department policies and traditions. And it ran counter to guidance
that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an
election season.? Holder concluded that the Director ?broke with these fundamental principles?
and ?negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the

Former Deputy Attorneys General Gorelick and Thompson described the unusual events
as ?real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal
criminal investigation,? that is ?antithetical to the interests of justice.?

Donald Ayer, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President George HW.
Bush, along with other former Justice Department of?cials, was ?astonished and perplexed? by
the decision to ?break[] with longstanding practices followed by of?cials of both parties during

Memorandum for the Attorney General

Page 3
Subject: Restoring Public Con?dence in the Federal Bureau of Investigation

past elections." Ayer?s letter noted, ?Perhaps most troubling is the precedent set by this
departure from the Department?s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions.?

We should reject the departure and return to the traditions.

Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not
be taken I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The
way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the
FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands
the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors,
the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.