BY BBC NEWS
Democratic and Republican lawmakers will be “thanking” Donald Trump for firing FBI director James Comey, the president has said.
In early morning tweets, Mr Trump defended his bombshell decision to fire the FBI chief over his handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Mr Comey was leading an FBI investigation into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
His removal has shocked Washington and Democrats are outraged.
The sacking “raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” said Adam Schiff, who is the highest ranked Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
But the president stood by his actions on Wednesday morning, hours before a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – his first with any Russian official since taking power.
“James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI,” said Mr Trump.
“Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!” he added.
It is only the second time the head of the FBI has been fired.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described Mr Comey’s dismissal as a US “internal affair” and it “has nothing to do and should have nothing to do with Russia”, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will request a closed and “if necessary, classified” all-senators separate briefing from senior Justice Department officials.
He also called for a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI investigation into any potential Russian ties to Mr Trump’s associates.
Why was James Comey fired?
President Trump wrote in a letter to Mr Comey that he agreed with Mr Sessions’ recommendation that “you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau”.
Mr Sessions said the department of justice was “committed to a high level of discipline, integrity, and the rule of law”, and “a fresh start is needed”.
Many have expressed surprise that Mr Comey should be fired for his handling of the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s emails, given that Mr Trump often praised the FBI director’s conduct in the matter.