President Donald Trump has fired the director of the FBI over his handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails, the administration says.
The White House sent shockwaves through Washington by announcing that James Comey “has been terminated and removed from office”.
The move came as it emerged Mr Comey gave inaccurate information about Mrs Clinton’s emails to Congress last week.
The FBI is also probing alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
President Trump wrote in a letter to Mr Comey that he agreed with US Attorney General Jeff 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”.
The White House said the search for a successor would begin immediately.
Mr Comey, 56, was appointed four years ago, and had another six years of his term to serve as FBI director.
What was inaccurate about Comey’s testimony?
Mr Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3 May that Mrs Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, had forwarded “hundreds and thousands” of emails “some of which contain classified information” to her then-husband.
But the FBI conceded on Tuesday that Ms Abedin had only sent two email chains containing classified information to her husband for printing.
The clarification was made in a letter from the FBI’s assistant director of congressional affairs, Gregory Brower, to the congressional committee.
The majority of the 49,000 emails investigators uncovered on the computer of Ms Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner were transferred via backup of her work Blackberry device, Mr Brower wrote.
How did Comey handle the email inquiry?
Mr Comey has been embroiled in controversy regarding the handling of his investigation into whether Mrs Clinton’s use of a private email server when secretary of state compromised national security.
The now-former FBI director made two interventions during the 2016 election campaign to make pronouncements about the investigation into her emails.
He said in July the case should be closed without prosecution, but then declared – 11 days before November’s election – that he had reopened the inquiry because of a discovery of a new trove of Clinton-related emails.
He told the Senate last week it made him “mildly nauseous” to think his intervention could have affected the election, but insisted he would make the same decision again.
Mrs Clinton blames Mr Comey for her shock election defeat last November to Donald Trump.
Why does the administration say Comey was fired?
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he “cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgement that he was mistaken”.
“Almost everyone agrees the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives”.
He said Mr Comey had been wrong to “usurp” the previous attorney general in July 2016 to announce the Clinton emails inquiry should be closed without prosecution.
The deputy attorney general said Mr Comey compounded his error by holding a press conference to “gratuitously” release “derogatory information” about Mrs Clinton.