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President Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey after his attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended his removal.

"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 shortly before 3 p.m. PST on Tuesday that Comey was "notified a short time ago," but declined to say how Comey was notified. Comey's dismissal took effect immediately.

A copy of the termination letter to FBI Director James Comey from US President Donald Trump is seen at the White House on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday made the shock decision to fire his FBI director James Comey, the man who leads the agency charged with investigating his campaign's ties with Russia.The surprise dismissal of Comey, who played a controversial role in the 2016 presidential election, is sure to send shockwaves through Washington.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan Getty Images)

The White House said it will immediately launch the search for a new FBI director.

Comey was appointed FBI director by President Barack Obama in 2013.

In so doing, he elevated a Republican law enforcement veteran who had been critical of the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush to the top domestic investigative and surveillance organization, among the most powerful posts in the world.

In the decades since former FBI Director J Edgar Hoover, the controversial director who brought FBI into the modern era, law enforcement has avoided the appearance of influencing politics the way Hoover did.

But Comey's decision to thrust himself repeatedly into the 2016 election, put him at odds with the FBI's general decision to stay away from the political spotlight.

Comey made the decision in July to go public with his recommendation that the Justice Department not pursue any charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or her former staffers over her email practices as secretary of state. However, he also took the opportunity to rebuke Clinton at length as being "extremely careless" with sensitive information.

Then-candidate Trump had talked up the investigation until this point, at which time he and his campaign derided Comey for the "political" decision.

FBI director James Comey (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Just days away from the election, Comey jumped into the race again. He informed Congress, via letter, that the FBI had re-opened its investigation into Clinton. The decision was made because of its investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is married to Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. Comey followed up days later with another letter, informing Congress that the FBI didn't find anything and continued to believe Clinton's practices did not merit the pursuance of any criminal charges.

After Clinton's loss, former President Bill Clinton blamed Comey for it, as have many Clinton staffers, at least in part.

After taking office, Trump met with Comey at the White House.

He offered a cryptic remark to the FBI chief.

"Oh, here's Jim," Trump said in January. "He's become more famous than me."