President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, dismissing the head of the bureau of his duties amid an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials during the presidential election.
“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said in a statement.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump “acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions”and a search to replace Comey will begin immediately.
Here is a look at the events leading up Comey’s termination:
July 2, 2016: Trump: Impossible for no charges against Clinton
“It is impossible for the FBI not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. What she did was wrong!” Trump tweeted. “What Bill did was stupid!”
Trump’s reference to Bill Clinton alluded to the former president’s impromptu June 27 meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac.
July 5, 2016: Comey: No charges against Hillary Clinton
Comey told reporters that Clinton and her aides “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” after the bureau’s year-long probe into the former secretary of state’s private email server.
But “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said, dashing Republicans’ hopes of prosecuting Clinton.
July 21, 2016: Trump: Comey comments minor to what Clinton actually did
Trump railed against Comey and Clinton in his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president.
“When the FBI director says that the secretary of state was ‘extremely careless’ and ‘negligent,’ in handling our classified secrets, I also know that these terms are minor compared to what she actually did,” he alleged. “They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible crimes. In fact, her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such an egregious crime and getting away with it — especially when others have paid so dearly.”
Aug. 22, 2016: Trump calls for special prosecutor
“The Justice Department is required to appoint an independent special prosecutor because it has proven itself to be a political arm of the White House,” Trump said during a rally in Akron, Ohio, alleging that a set of rules exists for Clinton while a separate set of rules exists for everyone else.
Sept. 7, 2016: Comey: FBI doesn’t ‘play games’
In a memo to employees, Comey defended his decision to release notes related to its Clinton investigation over a long holiday weekend.
“I almost ordered the material held until Tuesday because I knew we would take all kinds of grief for releasing it before a holiday weekend, but my judgment was that we had promised transparency and it would be game-playing to withhold it from the public just to avoid folks saying stuff about us,” he said. “We don’t play games. So we released it Friday.”
Sept. 28, 2016: Comey: ‘Don’t call us weasels’
Comey again defended the bureau’s Clinton investigation, telling the House Judiciary Committee, “You can call us wrong, but don’t call us weasels.”
“We are honest people and … whether or not you agree with the result, this was done the way you want it to be done,” he said.
Oct. 28, 2016: New evidence in Clinton case
Comey sent a bombshell letter to Congress just days before Election Day, telling lawmakers “the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of Clinton’s emails.
“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony,” Comey wrote.
Oct. 30, 2016: Trump: Democrats loved Comey a few days ago
“Hillary and the Dems loved and praised FBI Director Comey just a few days ago,” Trump tweeted. “Original evidence was overwhelming, should not have delayed!”
Nov. 6, 2016: Comey: We have not changed our conclusion
In a follow-up letter to Congress, Comey told lawmakers that the bureau had reviewed all the communications referenced in his Oct. 28 letter.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” he said.
Nov. 21, 2016: Trump spokesman: No official statement on Comey
“There hasn’t been any official statement with regard to Director Comey,” Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller told reporters. “I would imagine that at some point, the two will meet.”
Dec. 16, 2017: FBI agrees with CIA on Russian hacking
The Washington Post reported that Comey and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were in agreement that Russia meddled in the presidential election to boost Trump over Clinton.
“Earlier this week, I met separately with FBI [Director] James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper,” then-CIA Director John Brennan reportedly told his workforce, “and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.”
Jan. 3, 2017: Comey: 2016 ‘a challenging year’
Comey acknowledged the obvious in a nearly 3,000 word email to staff: 2016 was “a challenging year.”
“I would be lying if I said the external criticism doesn’t bother me at all, but the truth is, it doesn’t bother me much because of the way we made decisions,” he said, according to NBC News. “At every turn last year, we were faced with choosing among bad options and making decisions we knew would bring a torrent of criticism.”
Jan. 12, 2017: Report: Comey briefs Trump on dossier
NBC News reported that Comey told Trump of the existence of unverified and salacious claims against him in a Russian dossier that BuzzFeed published in full.
Jan. 22, 2017: Trump gives Comey pat on the back
Trump literally gave the FBI director a pat on the back just days into his presidency. “He’s become more famous than me,” Trump joked at a White House reception for law enforcement.
Jan. 24, 2017: Comey’s staying
Reports emerged that Comey told top agents that Trump had asked him to remain in his position as head of the FBI. Comey, a former senior Justice Department official in the Bush administration, was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term.
Feb. 24, 2017: Trump: FBI unable to find leakers
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump tweeted. “They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW”
Feb. 25, 2017: Comey rebuffs White House
The Trump administration asked the FBI to publicly knock down reports that Trump associates engaged in potentially illegal contacts with Russian intelligence, but Comey refused to do so, POLITICO reported.
March 5, 2017: Comey asks DOJ to push back on wiretapping claim
Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. The White House, however, has continued to stand by Trump’s claim, despite no evidence to support it.
March 8, 2017: Comey: ‘You’re stuck with me’
Comey told attendees at a Boston College cybersecurity conference, “You’re stuck with me for another 6 ½ years.”
March 20, 2017: Comey announces Trump investigation
“This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed,” he testified, noting that the probe began in July.
“I have no information that supports those tweets,” he added, referring to Trump’s wiretapping claim, “and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
April 12, 2017: Trump sends mixed signals on Comey’s future
In a Fox Business Network interview, Trump said he had “confidence” in Comey. But he also acknowledged that it was “not too late” to fire him.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “You know, it’s going to be interesting.”
May 2, 2017: Clinton blames Comey for loss
“I was on the way to winning until” Comey and WikiLeaks “raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off,” Clinton said, prompting a response from Trump.
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!” Trump tweeted. (Comey denied that in a subsequent testimony.)
May 3, 2017: Comey: ‘Mildly nauseous’ with notion that FBI impacted election
“It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision,” Comey testified. He said had a binary choice when confronted with new evidence in the Clinton investigation: Speak or conceal.
“Concealing in my view would be catastrophic,” he said.
May 9, 2017: Comey fired
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote in a letter to Comey. “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”