LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) – FBI Director James Comey was fired Tuesday by President Donald Trump just as he was preparing to speak at a recruiting event in Los Angeles.
In a brief statement, the White House said that Trump informed Comey “that he has been terminated and removed from office.”
The decision was made on the recommendations of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the statement read.
The White House said the search for a new director would begin immediately.
Comey was meeting with agents at the FBI complex in L.A. when he was fired, CBS News reported. An FBI official told KNX1070 NEWSRADIO that Comey was caught “flat-footed” by the firing.
Comey had been scheduled to speak at an agency recruitment event Tuesday night in Hollywood. While the event’s location was kept secret, KNX reported that it was taking place at the Directors Guild of America theater on Sunset Boulevard. Early Tuesday evening, KNX learned that Comey will not be speaking at the event.
After the announcement, U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey were calling for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Trump and Russia.
Harris wrote: “I’ve said it before and will again – we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait.”
The firing came after the FBI earlier Tuesday corrected Comey’s sworn testimony, who last week told Congress that a top aide to Hillary Clinton had sent “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information.
In fact, the FBI said in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 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. Most of the email chains on the laptop containing classified information were not the result of forwarding, the FBI said.
The apparent misstatements came during an hours-long hearing in which Comey was criticized for public comments during the election season, including his assertion during a July news conference at FBI headquarters that Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.
He spoke at length at that hearing about Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide, as he defended his decision to alert Congress 11 days before the election about the discovery of thousands of emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner. The congressman, whose laptop was searched by the FBI as part of a sexting investigation, and Abedin separated last year.
Comey said he felt compelled to tell Congress that agents would need to take the time to review those emails, especially since he had already testified that the FBI had closed its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)