A top House Democrat on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, calling it “reckless and a dereliction of duty.”
The announcement comes after a report that Trump told Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and that the FBI was investigating Flynn’s finances.
The White House initially denied the report.
Comey was fired in May after the White Street Journal published a series of articles alleging that Trump had attempted to impede his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
The president’s administration has denied any collusion.
The White House released a statement later Tuesday saying Trump was acting to protect the country and that he had been “taken out of context.”
“The White Houses investigation into the Russian meddling in the presidential election is now in its final phase,” the statement said.
“It is the Department of Justice’s responsibility to determine the facts and then bring charges as appropriate.”
Trump’s firing of Comey was a major blow to the Russia probe, which has been ongoing for months.
The FBI is investigating whether the Trump White House colluded with Russia during the election to influence the outcome of the race.
In a statement to The Associated Press, the FBI said that it is working to verify the White Houses claim that Comey’s firing was the result of the Russia investigation.
“We will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead and we will respond appropriately,” the FBI statement said, without elaborating.
The decision to dismiss Comey was made at the behest of President Donald J. Trump, the White HOUSE said.
It was not clear how many people were in the White house at the time of Comey’s dismissal.
In his firing, Trump told lawmakers he was acting “to protect the American people.”
Comey’s firing came a day after The Hill published a report detailing that the White Court had warned the president that he could be fired for “loyalty” to him if he did not recuse himself from the Russia investigations.
Comeys firing was widely viewed as an attempt to pressure the FBI director to recuse from the investigation.
Comey was the director of the bureau for just nine months.
Democrats and Republicans alike have called for a special counsel to be appointed to look into the Russia case.