World Bulletin / News Desk
President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to defend his decision to fire James Comey as the head of the FBI, saying critics will thank him once the dust is settled.
"Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike," Trump wrote in a flurry of early-morning tweets.
He went on to criticize a democratic senator who called the abrupt firing "a defiance of the rule of law, and common sense", and slammed as "fake news" a media report that claimed a Trump associate widely believed to be under FBI investigation recommended Comey's ouster.
News of his firing apparently caught off-guard Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is visiting Washington, by surprise.
"Was he fired?" Lavrov said during a press availability with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a reporter asked if the development would sully the talks.
"You are kidding. You are kidding," he replied after the reporter confirmed the news, quickly leaving the State Department's Treaty Room.
Trump is only the second president to fire an FBI director. Former President Bill Clinton dismissed William Sessions amid questions about his personal use of FBI resources.
The timing of Trump's decision -- as the bureau is investigating whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia in last year's election -- has prompted many, including some from within his own party, to question the president's rationale.
High-profile Republican lawmaker Bob Corker, who is the chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Comey's "removal at this particular time will raise questions.
“It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion,” he said.
In a letter to Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommended Comey's ouster, citing the director's handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton's personal email server.
While the manner in which he handled the inquiry has has left Comey open to criticism from many, Sessions was not among them when he lauded Comey in the run-up to last year's elections for his decision to controversially disclose an FBI probe into new material related to the email scandal.
"There's some serious allegations here that the American people need to know are fully investigated," Sessions said two days before the Nov. 8 polls. "FBI Director Comey did the right thing. When he found new evidence he had no choice but to report to the American Congress where he had under oath testified the investigation was over.
"He had to correct that, and say this investigation is ongoing now," he said.