WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.
In a statement, Trump says Comey's firing "will mark a new beginning" for the FBI. The White House says the search for a new FBI director will begin immediately.
Trump called at least two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee minutes before the White House announced the dismissal of Comey on Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California both said they received calls from Trump. Graham is heading the panel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee.
Neither senator criticized the decision. Graham was supportive, saying that "given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well."
Feinstein said Trump told her the FBI needed a change, and that the next director "must be strong and independent."
Comey's firing comes days after he testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible connections between Russia and Trump's campaign.
In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI.
Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his role in an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year's election.
Trump made no mention of Comey's role in the Clinton investigation. But the president did assert that Comey informed him "on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation."
© 2018 Associated Press