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FBI Crime List: Adedeji Emmanuel Oluwatosin Arrested, N1.4bn Found In His Account — EFCC |RN

EFCC personnel and FBI with Nigerian online scammers arrested in the United States

Two cars – Mercedes Benz E550 and Mercedes Benz C450 -, an iPhone, laptops, a modem and SIM cards were seized from his residence.


The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation has Emmanuel Adedeji Oluwatosin, one of the 77 Nigerians indicted by the US government over a large-scale scam.

Two cars – Mercedes Benz E550 and Mercedes Benz C450 -, an iPhone, laptops, a modem and SIM cards were seized from his residence.

He was paraded in Sokoto State on Thursday, following his arrest in Kaduna State.

According to the Zonal Head, Abdullahi Lawal, Oluwatosin and his accomplices acquired retirement account information (RAI) and personally identifiable information (PII) of multiple persons which they used to wire funds into newly-created business bank accounts.

The proceeds were then converted to cryptocurrency.

Preliminary investigations, EFCC noted, showed that about N1,437,889,157.15 passed through the suspect’s accounts.

Seventy million naira from that money had been traced, said Lawal as he said efforts were on to recover the money.

Meanwhile, the anti-corruption agency has arrested a wanted suspect, Muzakkir Muhammad, in connection with a case of obtaining money under false pretenses and production of fake currencies.

He said the suspect was reported by one of his victims, Abdullahi Ibrahim, after he had defrauded another victim, Samaila Sani, a bureau de change operator to the tune of $33,850.

(Sahara Reporters)

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Forbes-rated Young Nigerian Billionaire Arrested By FBI Over $12m (N4.2bn) Fraud |The Republican News

A Forbes-rated young Nigerian billionaire and CEO of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke has been arrested by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over a $12 million (N4.3bn) fraud.

He was arrested last week on the last day of his trip to the United States for allegedly defrauding top American companies of huge sums. Notably, he allegedly scammed $12m from a steel company by hacking into an executive’s office365 account and sending an email with a fake invoice to the purchasing department.

His arrest came after Special Agent Marshall Ward of the FBI and the team he heads opened up an investigation in July 2018, following a petition by Unatrac Holding Limited.

The charge sheet reads in part “In June 2018, Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment, headquartered in the United Kingdom, contacted the FBI.

They reported that Unatrac had been victimised through an email compromise, which ultimately resulted in fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly 11million US Dollars. After reviewing the documentation provided by the representatives, the FBI opened an investigation in July 2018.

“The FBI discovered that after capturing the legitimate credentials of Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer, the accused was able to log in and access the CFO’s entire Office365 account, which included all of his emails and various digital files, the logs indicated that between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from Nigeria.

“With full access to the account, the intruder sent fraudulent wire transfer requests from the CFO’s email account to members of Unatrac’s internal financial team. The intruder also attached fake invoices to the emails to enhance the credibility of the requests,” the investigator stated. The investigation, painstaking and far-reaching, lasted more than a year during which Obinwanne emerged as the principal culprit and has since been arrested while on his regular visit to the United States.”

Before his arrest, Obinwanne Okeke was a celebrated businessman who had a ‘grass to grace’ story on Forbes. The arrested suspect is said to be the 17th child of a polygamous father who died when he was 16, and he reportedly moved from one relative to another before moving Australia where he “did all kinds of jobs just to survive.” He became a viral sensation after he got featured in ‘Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30’ list in 2016.

It is not clear how he made the list of Forbes’ 100 Most Influential Young Africans 2018, it should, however, be noted that he founded the Invictus Group of Companies, an investment conglomerate dealing in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, renewable energy, telecoms, and real estate.

Invictus Group operates in three African countries, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia. His company was named as Africa’s Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year by African Brand Congress in 2017.

Obi recently got married, had a baby last month and got listed among 100 Most Influential Young Africans in 2018 alongside Davido, Falz, Ahmed Musa. He was also nominated for the All African Business Leaders Award for Young Business Leader (West Africa) in 2018. The AABLA Award is the most prestigious award for African businessmen/entrepreneurs.

The young Nigerian who accepted an offer to be a Contributor for Forbes Magazine and published his first essay in May 2017, has however been arrested by the FBI for allegedly being a fraudster which is popularly known as ‘yahoo-yahoo’ in Nigeria.

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FBI Watched, Then Acted As Russian Spy Moved Closer To Hillary Clinton |RN

John Solomon and Alison Spann
FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton© Provided by The Hill FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton
As Hillary Clinton was beginning her job as President Obama’s chief diplomat, federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State, her husband Bill Clinton and members of their inner circle, according to interviews and once-sealed FBI records.Some of the activities FBI agents gathered evidence about in 2009 and 2010 were covert and illegal.

A female Russian spy posing as an American accountant, for instance, used a false identity to burrow her way into the employ of a major Democratic donor in hopes of gaining intelligence on Hillary Clinton’s department, records show. The spy was arrested and deported as she moved closer to getting inside the secretary’s department, agents said.

Other activities were perfectly legal and sitting in plain view, such as when a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company hired a Washington firm to lobby the Obama administration. At the time it was hired, the firm was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in pro bono support to Bill Clinton’s global charitable initiative, and it legally helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business, records show.

Agents were surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check that a Kremlin-linked bank provided Bill Clinton with for a single speech in the summer of 2010. The payday came just weeks after Hillary Clinton helped arrange for American executives to travel to Moscow to support Putin’s efforts to build his own country’s version of Silicon Valley, agents said.

There is no evidence in any of the public records that the FBI believed that the Clintons or anyone close to them did anything illegal. But there’s definitive evidence the Russians were seeking their influence with a specific eye on the State Department.

“There is not one shred of doubt from the evidence that we had that the Russians had set their sights on Hillary Clinton’s circle, because she was the quarterback of the Obama-Russian reset strategy and the assumed successor to Obama as president,” said a source familiar with the FBI’s evidence at the time, speaking only on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

That source pointed to an October 2009 communication intercepted by the FBI in which Russian handlers instructed two of their spies specifically to gather nonpublic information on the State Department.

“Send more info on current international affairs vital for R., highlight US approach,” part of the message to the spies read, using the country’s first initial to refer to Russia. “… Try to single out tidbits unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources closer to State department, government, major think tanks.”

The Clintons, by that time, had set up several new vehicles that included a multimillion dollar speech-making business, the family foundation and a global charitable initiative, all which proved attractive to the Russians as Hillary Clinton took over State.

“In the end, some of this just comes down to what it always does in Washington: donations, lobbying, contracts and influence – even for Russia,” said Frank Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.

The sleeper ring

Figliuzzi supervised the post-arrest declassification and release of records from a 10-year operation that unmasked a major Russian spy ring in 2010. It was one of the most important U.S. counterintelligence victories against Russia in history, and famous for nabbing the glamorous spy-turned-model Anna Chapman.

While Chapman dominated the headlines surrounding that spy ring, another Russian woman posing as a mundane New Jersey accountant named Cynthia Murphy was closing in on accessing Secretary Clinton’s department, according to records and interviews.

For most of the 10 years, the ring of Russian spies that included Chapman and Murray acted as sleepers, spending a “great deal of time collecting information and passing it on” to their handlers inside Russia’s SVR spy agency, FBI records state.

Murphy, living with her husband and kids in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, reported a major breakthrough in February 2009 in an electronic message sent to her handlers: she had scored access to a major Democrat, FBI records state.

“Murphy had several work-related personal meetings with [a prominent New York-based financier, name omitted] and was assigned his account,” one FBI record from the case read. “The message accurately described the financier as  ‘prominent in politics,’ ‘an active fund-raiser’ for [a major political party, name omitted] and a ‘personal friend’ of [a current Cabinet official, name redacted].”

Multiple current and former officials confirmed to The Hill that the Cabinet officer was Hillary Clinton, the fundraiser was New York financier Alan Patricof and the political party was the Democratic National Committee. None of the Americans were ever suspected of illegalities, but the episode made clear the Russian spies were stepping up their operations against the new administration after years of working in a “sleeper” capacity, officials said.

Patricof did not return a call to his office Friday seeking comment. But in 2010 he told The Washington Post after the spy case broke he believed he had been a victim of the spy ring, saying Murphy had worked for him but that he only talked accounting and not government or politics with her.

“It’s just staggering,” he told the Post about the idea of being targeted by Russia. “It’s off the charts.”

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill declined Saturday to say if the secretary was ever alerted or briefed to the Russian spy effort, instead suggesting that any focus on the spy case was a partisan effort to distract from the controversy around Moscow and President Trump.

“Nothing has changed since the last time this was addressed, including the right’s transparent attempts to distract from their own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security,” he wrote in an email to The Hill.

Back in 2010, when the spy story broke, Hillary Clinton’s office issued a statement that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.”

Court documents and agents who worked the case suggest otherwise, saying the Russians were specifically targeting her department and any intelligence they could get on the new administration’s emerging foreign policy.

Trying to get inside State

The FBI documents show exactly what Murphy’s Russian handlers wanted her to get from a Clinton-tied donor she had befriended. “Maybe he can provide Murphy with remarks US foreign policy, roumors (sic) about White House internal kitchen, invite her to major venues,” one FBI document quoted the Russians as saying.

By 2010, the Russian SVR urged Murphy to consider taking a job with a lobbying firm because “this position would expose her to prospective contacts and potential sources in U.S. government,” the FBI affidavit read.

Figliuzzi said it was the FBI’s belief that Murphy wasn’t going to risk taking a job inside the State Department, where the vetting process might unmask her true identity. So she aimed for a private sector job where “she could get next to people who had the jobs who could get the information she wanted from State,” he said.

The retired FBI executive said that by early summer 2010, agents feared Chapman might flee the country and Murphy was getting too close to posing a security concern to Hillary Clinton. As a result, they arrested the entire ring of 10 spies, and quickly expelled them.

“In regards to the woman known as Cynthia Murphy, she was getting close to Alan, and the lobbying job. And we thought this was too close to Hillary Clinton. So when you have the totality of the circumstance, and we were confident we had the whole cell identified, we decided it was time to shut down their operations,” Figliuzzi said.

The FBI announced the arrests on June 28, 2010, a day after they were made.

The ring highlights the long-standing efforts Russia has made to gain access to U.S. officials, which sprouted up well before the last election. But the recent events also illustrate how Russia’s efforts have advanced.

Figliuzzi said they show a “logical evolution or morphing of methodology to exploit social media in a way that is far more effective and potentially damaging” than the spy ring rolled up in 2010.

“We watched a sleeper cell of ten people for ten years that didn’t come close to the impact of a few thousand ads and posts on FB, Twitter, Google and Instagram,” he said.

Bill Clinton’s big check

A day after the arrests of the sleeper ring, another event captured the FBI’s attention.

Thousands of miles away in Russia, former President Bill Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute speech to Renaissance Capital, a Kremlin-connected bank, and then he scored a meeting with Putin himself.

The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show.

One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter.

The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market for its traditional uranium

And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. A team of venture capitalists had been dispatched to Moscow just a few weeks before Bill Clinton landed his payday, records show.

“We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level,” Mrs. Clinton boasted at the time, according to a State Department transcript. She added hat the business executives she dispatched to Putin’s homeland had Twittered their way through Russia.

The bank that paid Clinton was promoting the Uranium One deal’s stock. And the former president entertained – though he never followed through with – meeting with two Russian figures who had ties to the nuclear sales and the Silicon Valley deals as well, State Department records show.

Angel Urena, the official spokeswoman for the former president, told The Hill that Bill Clinton never discussed those issues pending before his wife’s department when he was in Russia and that the money he collected for himself and his charitable efforts never influenced his wife’s decision making

Another investigation

Away from Clinton’s big payday and the breaking news of a spy ring, the FBI had another major investigation under way where the Clinton name was surfacing.

Since 2009, the FBI had an undercover informant gathering evidence of a massive bribery and kickback scheme inside the Russian nuclear energy firm TENEX and its American arm TENEM.

Years later, FBI agents would help the Justice Department bring charges against the Russian nuclear industry’s point man in the United States, TENEX director Vadim Mikerin, as well as a Russian financier and an American trucking executive whose company moved Russian uranium around the United States.

But as the informant gathered evidence of the bribery scheme in early 2010, he began to hear a familiar name crop up in conversations. The Russians kept talking about ways they could win access to or favor with the Clintons, and the informant kept reporting it back to his FBI handlers.

The informant has never been publicly identified, but his lawyer told The Hill on Friday he can shed significant light to Congress on what the Russians were doing to try to win favorable treatment from the Obama administration.

“I can confirm that my client while working undercover for the FBI and in the employ of the Russian energy firm TENEX witnessed numerous, detailed conversations in which Russian actors described their efforts to lobby, influence or ingratiate themselves with the Clintons in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration,” attorney Victoria Toensing said.

“Unfortunately, he cannot at the present time disclose the specifics of that evidence he reported to the agents in real time because of an NDA he signed with the bureau. But we are working with Congress to find a means in the future for him to transmit the important information he possesses,” she added.

There are some public records that show what TENEX was trying to do inside the United States.

The Russian firm between 2009 and 2011 hired two Washington consulting firms to help it win Obama administration approval for policies and contracts that opened up billions in new nuclear fuel sales for TENEX, foreign agent registration records show. Those firms were never implicated in any wrongdoing in court records, and were just doing contract work to expand the Russian’s commercial nuclear sales inside the United States.

The lobbying work was perfectly legal, focusing on agencies like State, Commerce and Energy that supervised the US-Russia nuclear relationship. But once again, a connection to the Clintons emerged.

One of the firms TENEX hired in 2010 was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in support to the Clinton Global Initiative, starting in 2008.   (The Hill)

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Trump Russia Inquiry: Kushner Under FBI Scrutiny – US Media

President Donald Trump (left) and Jared Kushner. Photo: February 2017Image copyrightREUTERS Image captionJared Kushner (right) is a senior adviser to President Trump

 

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is under FBI scrutiny as part of the Russia investigation, according to US media.

Reports say investigators believe he has relevant information, but he is not necessarily suspected of a crime.

The FBI is looking into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links with Mr Trump’s campaign. The president denies any collusion.

Mr Kushner’s lawyer said his client would co-operate with any inquiry.

President Trump has described the situation as “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”.

US intelligence agencies believe Moscow tried to tip the election in favour of the Republican, who beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

US officials, who were not named, told NBC News that the interest in Mr Kushner, 36, did not mean the investigators suspected him of a crime or intended to charge him.

Separately, the Washington Post reported that the investigators were focusing on meetings he held last year with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, and a banker from Moscow.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: 23 May 2017Image copyrightAFP: Jared Kushner is married to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka

 

Robert Mueller, a former FBI boss, last week was named by the justice department as special counsel to oversee the Russia inquiry.

Congress is also looking into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and any Trump campaign ties.

Mr Kushner has already agreed to discuss his Russian contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Mr Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,” Mr Kusnher’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick told the BBC.

“He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” the lawyer added.

Calls for a special investigation have mounted since President Trump fired the most recent FBI director, James Comey, earlier this month.

The White House has been engulfed in crisis over allegations that Mr Trump asked the ousted FBI chief to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.

Mr Flynn was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador before Mr Trump took office in January.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the US presidential election.

(BBC)

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New Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has History Of Standing Up To The White House

 

Matea Gold, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger
Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in 2013.© Alex Wong/Getty Images Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in 2013.  

Robert S. Mueller III, who served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the last two administrations, brings to his new role as special counsel a proven willingness to take on a sitting president.

In a high-drama episode in 2004, he and then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey were preparing to resign from their positions if President Bush reauthorized the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program without changes. Bush backed down.

Now, Mueller is charged with another politically fraught mission: the investigation of possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials seeking to meddle in the 2016 campaign.

Former colleagues said the ex- Marine Corps officer and former U.S. attorney, who was sworn in as FBI director a week before the 2001 terrorist attacks, is uniquely suited to the task.

“He doesn’t sway under political pressure,” said Thomas J. Pickard, who served as deputy director of the FBI under Mueller on Sept. 11, 2001. He noted that President Obama extended Mueller’s term, even after he had served through all eight years of the Bush administration. “For 12 years, he kept the FBI out of politics,” Pickard added.

George J. Terwilliger III, who has known Mueller since both were assistant U.S. attorneys three decades ago, said that “if a special counsel had to be appointed, I think Bob is a terrific choice.”

“I have no doubt that he will be even handed — including going hammer and tong after anyone who is leaking investigative or classified information,” said Terwilliger, who served as deputy attorney general while Mueller led DOJ’s criminal division. “Bob’s got a career that is marked by handling the highest-profile matters out of the public eye with his nose to the grindstone and attention to the business.”

Neil MacBride, a former U.S. attorney who has worked with Mueller in a variety of jobs, called him “the real deal, the most respected prosecutor in America.”

A former deputy attorney general who later did a stint prosecuting homicide cases in Washington, Mueller is a known as a no-nonsense, relentless prosecutor with a deep reverence for the rule of law.

“The most devastating thing that can happen to an institution is that people begin to shade and dissemble,” he told Washingtonian magazine in 2008.

Mueller also has long ties to major players in the tumultuous political story that has engulfed Trump’s presidency. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who tapped Mueller for the task, served under him at the Justice Department as a criminal prosecutor. Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired last week, was his ally during the Bush era and then succeeded him as FBI director.

Until his surprise appointment Wednesday, Mueller served as a partner at WilmerHale, a firm that represents former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Robert T. Novick, the firm’s co-managing partner, said Wednesday that Mueller had left effective immediately. Two WilmerHale partners who worked with Mueller in the past are expected to join him in the special counsel’s office, according to Novick: Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s chief of staff when he was FBI director, and James L. Quarles III, who worked with Mueller at the law firm in the 1990s.

Mueller grew up in Philadelphia and went to St. Paul’s School, the elite prep school in New Hampshire, where he played hockey with John F. Kerry, the former secretary of state.

At Princeton, he was inspired to join the Marine Corps by a former student who died in Vietnam, according to Washingtonian. He led a rifle platoon in Vietnam, eventually receiving numerous commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School, Mueller worked for a dozen years as an assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco and Boston, where U.S. attorney William Weld described him as a “straight arrow.”

“He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy; he just put the cards on the table,” Weld told Washingtonian.

Mueller succeeded Weld as U.S. attorney in Boston and then went to Washington in 1989 as an assistant to Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh, eventually rising to be chief of the criminal division. During his tenure, he worked on high-profile cases such as the prosecution of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega and the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

After a stint at a private law firm, Mueller took a big pay cut to work as a homicide prosecutor in Washington for U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. — a move that friends said showed how much prosecuting was in his blood.

Holder told The Post that Mueller called him and explained he was “shaken” by killings in the city and wanted a chance to be a line prosecutor and do something about it.

Holder called the conversation “one of the most extraordinary calls I’ve ever gotten.”

Holder later tapped Mueller to serve as U.S. attorney in San Francisco.

In 2001, Bush selected him to replace Louis J. Freeh as FBI director, a position friends said Mueller had long sought. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

A week later, planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, upending his job and the bureau.

Pickard, who briefly served as his deputy, said that in the days after the attack, Mueller worked so hard that Pickard told his wife he needed to take a break: “I told her, ‘He’s killing us,’ ” Pickard recalled.

“He had a tremendous work ethic,” Pickard said. “He wouldn’t think anything of staying there until 9, 10, 11 p.m. at night and then showing up at 6 a.m. the next day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for work.”

Among Pickard’s duties was to brief Mueller. He said the FBI director would often reject summaries, asking instead to review the full notes taken by agents from their interviews. For exercise, he would stand for hours at a lectern, reading page after page. “He’s a real student — getting down into the details,” he said.

Less than three years later, Mueller and Comey were involved in the standoff with other Bush administration officials over an effort to extend the warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency.

At one point, Comey rushed to hospital bedside of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to try to persuade him not to certify the extension sought by White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. Comey, who was serving as acting attorney general while Ashcroft recovered from gall bladder surgery, had refused to support the program’s continuation in its form.

Mueller arrived at the hospital shortly after the confrontation in Ashcroft’s room. He told the FBI agents guarding the room not to allow anyone else in to see Ashcroft without Comey’s permission.

When the Bush administration tried to proceed with the extension, Comey, Mueller and other Justice Department officials threatened to resign — forcing Bush to change the program.

After President Barack Obama was elected, he asked Congress to extend Mueller’s term past the statutory 10-year appointment, making him the second-longest-serving FBI director, after J. Edgar Hoover.

“Like the Marine that he’s always been, Bob never took his eyes off his mission,” Obama said when Mueller stepped down in 2013, adding: “I know very few people in public life who have shown more integrity, more consistently, under more pressure than Bob Mueller.”

As a partner at WilmerHale, which Mueller joined in 2014, he was frequently tapped by major corporations and institutions to conduct complex, sensitive internal investigations.

Among his recent clients was the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, which hired him to review the company’s security procedures after one of its employees was charged with stealing classified data from the NSA. Another was the National Football League, which tapped Mueller to examine how the league handled a domestic abuse case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.  (The Washington Post)

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Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him To End Flynn Investigation

 

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Video by MSNBC

WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this month.© Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this month.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

In testimony to the Senate last week, the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”

The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey.

Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.

The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the ongoing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an investigation into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.

The Oval Office meeting occurred a little more than two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner in the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

In a Twitter posting on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.

The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.                             (The New York Times)

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Former DNI Clapper Disputes Trump Account Of Comey Dinner

 

Ken Dilanian and Pete Williams

One day after the acting attorney general warned the White House that its national security adviser was subject to blackmail, the president summoned the FBI director to dinner at the White House, people close to James Comey told NBC News.
At the Jan. 27 dinner, a week after assuming the presidency, Trump requested a loyalty pledge from Comey, people familiar with the dinner say. Comey replied that he could not offer loyalty, but he could pledge his honesty.

This account of the dinner contradicts the one President Trump gave to NBC News Nightly anchor Lester Holt on Thursday. Trump said Comey requested the meeting, asked to be retained in his job, and told him he was not under investigation.

James Clapper, who retired in January as director of national intelligence, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that Comey told him on the night of the dinner the president had invited him — and he was uneasy about it.

“He mentioned that he had been invited to the White House to have dinner with the president and he was uneasy with that,” Clapper said, adding that Comey didn’t want to create “the appearance of compromising the integrity of the FBI.”

Clapper said it would have been inappropriate and out of character for Comey to have asked for job security, or to have told the president anything about a pending criminal investigation.

It’s not known whether the men talked about national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI a few days before, on Jan. 24 — grilled about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had told the White House counsel that Flynn lied to White House officials about his talks with Kislyak — and that as a result, Vice President Mike Pence had misled the American people.

Yates was soon fired for refusing to enforce Trump’s travel ban. Now Comey has been removed, sparking a host of new questions. Trump suggested, in an exclusive interview Thursday with Holt, that he had the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation on his mind when he decided to remove Comey.

“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,'” Trump said.

Trump gave Holt an entirely different account of the dinner, saying that Comey requested it to seek job security, and told the president he was not under investigation. None of that is true, Comey’s associates insist.

A former senior FBI official said Comey would never have told the president he was not under investigation — contradicting what Trump said.

“He tried to stay away from it [the Russian-ties investigation],” said the former official, who worked closely with Comey and keeps in touch with him. “He would say, ‘Look sir, I really can’t get into it, and you don’t want me to.'”

A current FBI official and others close to Comey confirmed that the director did not request the one-on-one dinner, which happened at the White House a few days after Trump was sworn in.

Related: Trump Insists He’s Not Under FBI Investigation, Calls Comey Grandstander

In his interview with Holt on Thursday, Trump said twice that he believed Comey requested the dinner. Trump said Comey asked that Trump keep him on as FBI director, and told the president on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of the FBI’s inquiry into Russian election interference.

“The president is not correct,” the former official said. “The White House called (Comey) out of the blue. Comey didn’t want to do it. He didn’t even want the rank and file at the FBI to know about it.”

But in the end, “He’s still the commander-in-chief. He’s your boss. How do you say no?”

Image: President Trump Hosts The Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers And First Responders Reception At The White House President Trump Hosts The Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers And First Responders Reception At The White House  

Many current and former FBI officials interviewed by NBC News said the bureau was reeling from the Comey firing. Not everyone agreed with each Comey decision, but he was a popular and well-regarded director, they said.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Thursday that she had heard from “countless members of the FBI who are grateful for the president’s decision.”

Related: Comey Infuriated Trump With Refusal To Preview Senate Testimony ~ Aides

Current and former FBI agents scoffed at what they termed a ridiculous assertion.

“I doubt five people at the FBI even have the [phone] number of the deputy White House press secretary,” the former senior official said.

NBC News reported Thursday that the White House abandoned an initial idea for Trump to visit FBI headquarters, after learning he would not be greeted warmly there.            (NBC NEWS)

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Trump Insists He’s Not Under FBI Investigation, Calls Comey Grandstander

                    Media captionTrump tries to set the record straight

US President Donald Trump has insisted he is not under investigation, while dismissing the FBI director he fired as a “showboat” and “grandstander”.

Mr Trump also told NBC News it was his decision alone to sack James Comey.

Mr Comey was leading an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.

Mr Trump has dismissed the probe as a “charade”, a claim directly contradicted by Mr Comey’s successor.

In his first interview since firing the FBI director, Mr Trump told NBC News on Thursday he had asked Mr Comey whether he was under investigation.

“I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, ‘Am I under investigation?’ He said: ‘You are not under investigation.'”

Media captionWhat do Trump supporters think about Comey’s firing?

“I know I’m not under investigation,” Mr Trump told the interviewer, repeating a claim he made in Tuesday’s letter of dismissal to Mr Comey.

The president also appeared to undercut the initial White House explanation that he fired Mr Comey on the recommendation of top justice officials.

“He’s a showboat. He’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. I was going to fire Comey. My decision,” Mr Trump said.

“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”

Mr Trump recently tweeted that the Russia-Trump collusion allegations were a “total hoax”.

But on Thursday he denied that he wanted the FBI and congressional inquiries to stop.

Media captionTrump’s love-hate relationship with Comey over a tumultuous year

“In fact, I want the investigation speeded up,” the president told NBC.

“There’s no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians,” he said.

Mr Trump said he had just sent a letter via a law firm to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stating that he has no stake in Russia.

“I have nothing to do with Russia,” he said. “I have no investments in Russia. I don’t have property in Russia. I’m not involved with Russia.”

On Thursday afternoon Mr Trump retweeted a five-month-old post by comedienne Rosie O’Donnell, his arch-foe in the world of entertainment.

TwitterImage copyrightTWITTER

The White House has depicted the Russia inquiry as “probably one of the smallest things” that the FBI has “got going on their plate”.

But acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said on Thursday that it was “a highly significant investigation”.

In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he also cast doubt on White House claims that Mr Comey had lost the confidence of his staff.

Media captionDonald Trump was with Henry Kissinger when he told reporters James Comey was “not doing a good job” as FBI chief

“I can confidently tell you that the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey,” Mr McCabe said.

The acting FBI director vowed not to update the White House on the status of the investigation and to notify the Senate panel of any attempt to interfere with the inquiry.

Republican committee chairman Richard Burr asked Mr McCabe if he had ever heard Mr Comey tell Mr Trump the president was not the subject of investigation.

Acting FBI director Andrew McCabeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES. Andrew McCabe said the FBI had full faith in James Comey

 

Mr McCabe said he could not comment on an ongoing inquiry.

The acting FBI director did not confirm reports that Mr Comey had asked for more resources for the agency’s Russia inquiry.

Mr McCabe said he believed the FBI had sufficient funding to conduct the probe.


Rosenstein’s way out – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who penned a memo detailing Mr Comey’s “serious mistakes” – brought a reputation for even-handedness and probity with him to the job of deputy attorney general. Two weeks later, that reputation is being put to the test.

Such is life in the Trump White House, where every appointee and aide is just one tweet, event or press conference away from the maelstrom.

On Tuesday night, as the administration press shop scrambled to explain the president’s surprise decision to sack his FBI director, Trump supporters leaned hard on Mr Rosenstein’s credentials to paint the move as a nonpartisan decision based on Mr Comey’s overall job performance.

The deputy attorney general reportedly balked at the characterisation that he was the driving force behind Mr Comey’s dismissal, however.

Mr Rosenstein’s threat to resign is different than actually packing bags, of course, and his fate at this point is still tethered firmly to the president he chose to serve.

There is a way out, though. Due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal on the matter, it’s Mr Rosenstein’s call whether to appoint a special counsel to head the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. It may be the one card he can play to sidestep the growing frenzy that spins around him.


At the centre of the storm – Rod Rosenstein

  • 52-year-old Harvard graduate confirmed by US Senate as Deputy Attorney General on 25 April
  • Had strong bipartisan backing with 94-6 vote in his favour
  • Overseeing federal investigation of alleged Russian interference in November’s elections, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself over meetings with Moscow’s envoy in Washington
  • Appointed by President George W Bush as US attorney in Maryland and kept on by President Barack Obama
  • Reputation as apolitical and professional
  • Wrote memo detailing “serious mistakes” by Mr Comey, but did not expressly call for his removal

(BBC)

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Comey Infuriated Trump With Refusal To Preview Senate Testimony ~ Aides

 

Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017.© REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017.

 

The anger behind Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday had been building for months, but a turning point came when Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a Senate panel, White House officials said.

Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had wanted a heads-up from Comey about what he would say at a May 3 hearing about his handling of an investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

When Comey refused, Trump and his aides considered that an act of insubordination and it was one of the catalysts to Trump’s decision this week to fire the FBI director, the officials said.

“It gave the impression that he was no longer capable of carrying out his duties,” one official said. Previews of congressional testimony to superiors are generally considered courteous.

Comey, who testified for four hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it made him feel “mildly nauseous” that his decision to make public his reopening of a probe into Clinton’s handling of classified information might have affected the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election. But he said he had no regrets and would make the same decision again.

Trump’s sudden firing of Comey shocked Washington and plunged Trump deeper into a controversy over his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia that has dogged the early days of his presidency.

Democrats accused the Republican president of firing Comey to try to undermine the FBI’s probe into Russia’s alleged efforts to meddle in the 2016 election and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign, and demanded an independent investigation. Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans called his dismissal of Comey troubling.

The Trump administration said on Tuesday Comey was fired because of his handling of the Clinton email probe.

Before he axed Comey, Trump had publicly expressed frustration with the FBI and congressional probes into the Russia matter. Moscow has denied meddling in the election and the Trump administration denies allegations of collusion with Russia.

A former Trump adviser said Trump was also angry because Comey had never offered a public exoneration of Trump in the FBI probe into contacts between the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Sergei Kislyak, and Trump campaign advisers last year.

According to this former adviser, Comey’s Senate testimony on the Clinton emails likely reinforced in Trump’s mind that “Comey was against him.”

“He regretted what he did to Hillary but not what he did to Trump,” the former Trump adviser said of Comey.

Clinton has said that the Comey decision to announce the renewed inquiry days before the election was a likely factor in her loss to Trump.

Aides said Trump moved quickly after receiving a recommendation on Monday to terminate Comey from Rosenstein, who began reviewing the situation at the FBI shortly after taking office two weeks ago.

Trump’s move was so sudden that his White House staff, accustomed to his impromptu style, was caught off guard. Stunned aides scrambled to put together a plan to explain what happened.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer ended up briefing reporters about the move in the dark on Tuesday night near a patch of bushes steps away from the West Wing.

Comey, who was in Los Angeles meeting with FBI employees on Tuesday and returned later to Washington, has made no public comment on his firing.

‘FIG LEAF’

Many questions remained about what caused Trump to move so quickly.

Two former senior Justice Department officials said it made little sense to fire Comey while the Justice Department Inspector General was still doing a review of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

“I take Rod (Rosenstein) at his word that be believed everything in that memo but he must know that it’s going to be used as a fig leaf to fire Comey,” one former official said.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters it was her “understanding” Comey had been seeking more resources for his investigation into the tangled Russia controversy.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had pondered dumping Comey as soon as he took office on Jan. 20, but decided to stick with him.

Trump shrugged off the political firestorm he created with Comey’s dismissal as he met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

Asked by reporters why fired Comey, Trump said, “He wasn’t doing a good job, very simply. He wasn’t doing a good job.”     (REUTERS)

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FBI Director, James Comey Fired By Trump, Citing Clinton Email Enquiry

 

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and MATT APUZZO

Video by The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the law enforcement official leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for an independent prosecutor to lead the Russia inquiry.

Mr. Trump explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry and had once praised Mr. Comey for having “guts” in his pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.

But in his letter to Mr. Comey, released to reporters by the White House, the president betrayed his focus on the continuing inquiry into Russia and his aides.

“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,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to Mr. Comey dated Tuesday.

The White House said Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, pushed for Mr. Comey’s dismissal.

James B. Comey last week during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington.© Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times James B. Comey last week during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington.

“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote in a letter that was released by the White House, “and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”

Reaction in Washington was swift and fierce. In a call with Mr. Trump, Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told the president he was making a big mistake; publicly, Mr. Schumer called the firing a cover-up. Many Republicans assailed the president for making a rash decision that could have deep implications for their party.

Mr. Comey, who is three years into a 10-year term at the helm of the F.B.I., learned from news reports that he had been fired while addressing bureau employees in Los Angeles. While Mr. Comey spoke, television screens in the background began flashing the news. In response to the reports, Mr. Comey laughed, saying that he thought it was a fairly funny prank.

But shortly after, Mr. Trump’s letter was delivered to F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington.

The sudden dismissal of one of Washington’s most prominent officials added to the sense of chaos in a White House that has been roiled by controversy, dogged by scandal and engaged in a furious fight with adversaries.

Mr. Trump had already fired his acting attorney general for insubordination and his national security adviser for lying to the vice president about contacts with Russians. But firing Mr. Comey raises much deeper questions about the independence of the F.B.I. and the future of its investigations under Mr. Trump.

F.B.I. officers were enraged by the firing and worried openly that Mr. Trump would appoint someone seen as a White House ally. Mr. Comey was widely liked in the F.B.I., even by those who criticized his handling of the Clinton investigation, and officers regarded him as a good manager and an independent leader.

Mr. Comey was on Capitol Hill last week when he offered his first public explanation of his handling of the Clinton email case. He said he had no regrets about the decisions he made, but said he felt “mildly nauseous” that his actions might have tipped the election to Mr. Trump.

Last July, Mr. Comey broke with longstanding tradition and policies by publicly discussing the Clinton case and chastising her “careless” handling of classified information. Then, in the campaign’s final days, Mr. Comey announced that the F.B.I. was reopening the investigation, a move that earned him widespread criticism.

Yet many of the facts cited as evidence for Mr. Comey’s dismissal were well known when Mr. Trump kept him on the job: Mr. Comey was three years in to a 10-year term. And both Mr. Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had praised Mr. Comey back then for reopening the Clinton investigation by saying his public announcement “took guts.” On Tuesday, that action was at the heart of Mr. Comey’s firing.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the F.B.I. that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Officials at the F.B.I. said they learned through news reports of Mr. Comey’s dismissal, which Mr. Trump described as effective immediately. The president has the authority to fire the F.B.I. director for any reason.

Under the F.B.I.’s normal rules of succession, Mr. Comey’s deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career F.B.I. officer, becomes acting director. The White House said the search for a director will begin immediately.

The firing puts Democrats in a difficult position. Many had hoped that Mrs. Clinton would fire Mr. Comey soon after taking office, and blamed him for costing her the election. But under Mr. Trump, the outspoken and independent-minded Mr. Comey was seen as an important check on the new administration.

“Any attempt to stop or undermine this F.B.I. investigation would raise grave constitutional issues,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. “We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credible lead so that we know that it’ll have a just outcome.”

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, praised Mr. Comey’s service but said new leadership at the F.B.I. “will restore confidence in the organization.”

“Many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the last year,” Mr. Blunt, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Mr. Comey marks the second time since taking office that the president has fired a top law enforcement official. In early February, Mr. Trump fired Sally Q. Yates, who had worked in the Obama administration but was serving as acting attorney general.

But the president’s firing of Mr. Comey was far more consequential. Ms. Yates was a holdover, and would have served in the Trump administration for only a matter of days or weeks.

A longtime prosecutor who served as the deputy attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Comey came into office in 2013 with widespread bipartisan support. He has essentially been in a public feud with Mr. Trump since long before the presidential election.

In a Twitter message this week, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Comey of being “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton,” accusing him of giving her “a free pass for many bad deeds.”

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a post on Twitter that Mr. Comey “should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of Russia/Trump investigation at the time he was fired.”

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, offered a veiled hint of the bombshell earlier in the day on Tuesday, though no reporters picked up on it.

During his daily briefing, Mr. Spicer was asked — as he frequently is — whether Mr. Comey still has the confidence of the president. Instead of saying yes, Mr. Spicer danced around the question.

“I have no reason to believe — I haven’t asked him,” Mr. Spicer said. “I have not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this.”

A reporter noted that Mr. Spicer had previously indicated that the president did have confidence in Mr. Comey, but asked whether recent revelations about Mr. Comey’s misstatement during testimony on Capitol Hill would change that.

“In light of what you’re telling me, I don’t want to start speaking on behalf of the president without speaking to him first,” Mr. Spicer said.

The president’s decision to fire Mr. Comey appeared to be the culmination of the bad will between the men that intensified in early March, when the president posted Twitter messages accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his office.

The next morning, word spread quickly that Mr. Comey wanted the Justice Department to issue a statement saying that he had no evidence to support the president’s accusation. The department did not issue such a statement.

For weeks after, Mr. Trump insisted that his accusation was correct. In dramatic testimony later in March, Mr. Comey said that he had no information to back up the president’s allegations.

That set up a remarkable dynamic — an F.B.I. director directly contradicting a sitting president at the same time that the bureau was pursuing a possible criminal investigation into the president’s aides.   (The New York Times)

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