FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into alleged links between Donald Trump’s team and Russia, has been sacked by the US President.
In a statement issued by White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, Mr Comey has been “terminated and removed from office” because he was “not able to effectively lead the bureau”.
Mr 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, critics believe the dismissal is more closely linked to Comey’s role in investigating Trump’s allies over alleged links to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Speaking on the sack, Senator Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor that the firing of Mr Comey raises questions “as to whether the Russian interference in the last presidential election… will also be investigated by the FBI.”
The senator also 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”.
In Mr Trump’s letter formally informing Mr Comey of his termination, he was appreciative of Mr Comey “informing [him] on three separate occasions” that the president was not under investigation by the agency.
However, Mr Trump “concur[s] with the judgement 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,” Mr Trump said.
The US President’s statement suggested that a search for a new director of the FBI “will begin immediately.”