The end of James Comey's wild ride

James Comey's decades-long, eventful career in public service has seemingly come to an end. His actions within the past year as FBI director have inspired some whiplash-inducing comments from Donald Trump, first as candidate and then as president.

Comey's time on political tightrope is over; director confirmed investigations of both Clinton, Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with FBI director James Comey at the White House on Jan. 22. 'He's become more famous than me,' Trump jokes at the time. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump fired James Comey on Tuesday, with more than six years left in the FBI director's 10-year term.

Comey's decades-long, eventful career in public service has likely come to an end, after his actions within the past year as FBI director inspired some whiplash-inducing comments from Trump.

1980s-2003: A different Clinton probe

Comey starts working under Rudy Giuliani in the New York district attorney's office and later as U.S. attorney in Virginia. He handles white-collar crime, Mafia and terrorist cases.

Comey has Giuliani's old job —U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York— by 2002. An investigation he inherited involves Bill Clinton's controversial presidential pardons of millionaire traders Marc Rich and Pincus Green.

"I was stunned when President Clinton pardoned them," Comey said in a letter to Congress. The investigation, eventually closed, outlasted Comey's tenure in New York. He was off to Washington

2003-05: Hospital confrontation

Nominated to be deputy U.S. attorney general by President George W. Bush, Comey's 18-month tenure comes at a fevered time, with the 9/11 attacks resonant and the invasion of Iraq ongoing.

With attorney general John Ashcroft in intensive care in the hospital in March 2004, Comey is tasked with extending one aspect of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. Comey refuses, concerned about indiscriminate collection of internet metadata inherent in the process, leading to a showdown at the hospital in which Ashcroft is staying with administration officials.

"I was concerned that given how ill I knew the attorney general was, there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that," Comey later testified on Capitol Hill.

2013: Obama goes across the aisle

Obama in June taps Comey, a Republican, then working in the private sector, to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director, praising his independence and integrity. Comey is later confirmed as the seventh director of the agency.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised James Comey's integrity and independence when announcing Comey as the choice to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director on June 21, 2013. (Jason Rose/Reuters)

In a Newsweek profile in June 2013, journalist Daniel Klaidman detailed how Comey's "moral compass" had led to decisions that didn't always dovetail with party lines, irking both Republicans and Democrats.

"This may very well spell good news for the country," wrote Klaidman. "But it could also spell bad news for both President Obama and whoever succeeds him."

2015-2016: Server probe brewing

The FBI conducts an investigation into allegations that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on a personal email server Hillary Clinton used while secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.

Over 100 emails are located in the investigation into the so-called home-brew server that are deemed classified, with 22 containing material that might be considered top secret, the highest level of classification.

July 2016: Trump blasts Comey decision

Comey announces Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, will not face criminal charges over her email practices as secretary of state. But he criticizes Clinton and her staff for being "extremely careless" in their handling of classified material.

No reasonable prosecutor would bring case: FBI Director James Comey


4 years agoVideo
Agency recommends no charges against Hillary Clinton following email probe 2:17

He reveals that thousands of emails were provided to investigators, some had been deleted but recovered, and others not recovered.

Republican presidential candidate Trump blasts the FBI's decision not to bring criminal charges against Clinton, who has been the subject of "lock her up!" chants at his rallies.

Oct. 28, 2016: Comey's got 'guts': Trump

Comey informs Congress by letter that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton's email practices based on new evidence, citing the discovery of emails on a laptop used Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Justice Department officials warned Comey against sending the letter so close to the U.S. election.

"It took guts for director Comey to make the move that he made, in light of the kind of opposition he had, when they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution," Trump says on Oct. 31 at a rally.

Trump pounces on email controversy, Clinton questions FBI's motives


4 years agoVideo
Hillary Clinton's email controversy resurfaces as the FBI reportedly looks into whether there was classified information on a device belonging to disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner 2:19

Nov. 6, 2016: Trump pans late email review

Crediting the FBI with working around the clock, Comey says there is nothing unearthed to change the original decision to not charge Clinton.

"You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days," Trump says at a rally. "You can't do it folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty."

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump triumphant

Trump defeats Clinton to become the 45th U.S. president, winning 306 electoral votes despite losing the popular vote by a considerable margin.

Clinton in ensuing months would cite the large advantage in so-called "late deciding" voters for Trump in crucial swing states as evidence the Comey reveal was a decisive factor.

"If the election were on Oct. 27, I would have been your president," she said on May 2.

January 2017: Mixed messages from Trump

Comey is among a group of U.S. intelligence officials who brief president-elect Trump on their conclusions that Russia meddled in the presidential election on his behalf.

Hours before, Trump had publicly decried the Russian investigations gathering steam as a "political witch hunt," but he tells The Associated Press he "learned a lot" from the briefing.

Two days after taking office, Trump calls Comey over during a White House reception to offer a handshake and a partial hug, commenting that Comey has "become more famous than me."

March 20, 2017: Russia in the red

Comey confirms publicly, at a congressional committee, that associates of Donald Trump have been investigated for possible links with Russia as part of the broader probe into interference in the election.

Comey testifies at the same hearing there is no information to substantiate Trump's unsubstantiated claim on Twitter that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in New York.

FBI director confirms Trump campaign investigation


4 years agoVideo
James Comey confirmed that the bureau is investigating possible links and co-ordination between Russia and associates of U.S. President Donald Trump as part of a larger investigation into the 2016 election 3:10

May 3, 2017: 'Mildly nauseous'

Comey, in testimony at a Senate hearing, defends the seemingly different approaches into the investigations embroiling Clinton and Trump. He said the choices that led to the late campaign announcement involving the Clinton emails were either bad or "catastrophic."

"It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election," he testifies. "But honestly, it wouldn't change the decision."

Comey: 'Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic'


4 years agoVideo
FBI director justifies pre-election actions to congressional hearing 0:55

May 9, 2017: The end

Comey sends Congress a letter correcting prior sworn testimony. He had testified Abedin had sent "hundreds and thousands" of emails, including some with classified information, to a laptop primarily used by her disgraced husband. In fact, Comey said, it was only "a small number."

Hours later Trump fires the FBI director.

Trump cites the handling of the Clinton email investigation, reasoning most observers doubt.

Many Republicans state concern with the timing of the move, while Democrats call for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 election.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters


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