WASHINGTON: Federal Bureau Investigation Director (FBI) James Comey who was leading an investigation into alleged links between Donald Trump's team and Russia has been fired by the US President.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement that Comey has been "terminated and removed from office."
Trump was said to have acted on "clear recommendations" from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a move that has shocked Washington.
However, Democratic Senators were quick to point out the constitutional crisis that has been created by Trump removing a man in charge of investigating him. Senator Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor that the firing of Comey raises questions "as to whether the Russian interference in the last presidential election will also be investigated by the FBI."
Comey corrected a Trump tweet in real-time during a Congressional hearing.
Durbin called on the White House to clarify whether the investigation will continue, adding that any "attempt to stop or undermine the FBI probe would raise grave constitutional issues".
Trump's statement indicated that a search for a new director of the FBI "will begin immediately."
In Trump's letter formally informing Comey of his termination, he was appreciative of Comey "informing [him] on three separate occasions" that the president was not under investigation by the agency.
However, Trump "concur[s] with the judgment of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."
"It is essential we find new leadership that restores public trust and confidence," Trump said.
In addition to the Senate and FBI investigations, the House Intelligence Committee is also conducting an investigation.
Democratic Representative Eric Swallwell, the ranking member on the committee, said that Comey's firing "should send a chill down the spine of every American, no matter who they voted for."
“The administration of justice must remain free of political influence, and President Trump has just leaped over that line," Swalwell said.
Calls from several members of Congress, including Republican Senator John McCain, about having an independent, bipartisan commission to conduct the Russia investigation have been amplified in the wake of Comey's dismissal.