Former FBI Director James Comey had requested that the Department of Justice provide more resources for his bureau's probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential race days before he was dismissed by President Donald Trump. The FBI investigation was also probing whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian officials to subvert the election media coverage.
On May 9, Trump fired Comey abruptly after receiving two letters recommending the action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. The dismissal came as a surprise to the FBI director, his bureau and the majority of White House staff.
"Nobody really knew," one senior White House official told Politico. "Our phones all buzzed and people said, 'What?'"
At an undetermined date roughly a week before Comey was fired, the FBI director had asked Rosenstein to increase resources for the Russian probe, citing that he had been frustrated by the pace of the investigation. Comey briefed members of Congress on his request in the interval between his discussion with Rosenstein and his dismissal, The New York Times reports.
It is not clear whether Comey's request for more resources was ever relayed to the White House.
DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores has called the assertion that Comey had requested more funding for the Russian probe "totally false."
On March 20, Comey confirmed during congressional testimony that the FBI was investigating potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence.
"That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts," Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, according to CNN.
The White House has stated that Trump dismissed Comey for how he had handled the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server, citing the FBI director's unprecedented press conference in July 2016 criticizing her conduct despite not recommending charges.
Sources from within the White House have alleged that Trump had become frustrated with Comey's disclosures bringing media attention to his alleged ties to Russia. The president had been reportedly considering firing Comey for over a week before delivering his final decision.
On the day of Comey's firing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for an end to the congressional and FBI investigations into Russia's role in the 2016 election.
"When are they going to let that go?" Sanders told Fox News. “It’s been going on for nearly a year. Frankly, it’s kind of getting absurd. There’s nothing there … It’s time to move on, and frankly, it’s time to focus on the things the American people care about."
Meanwhile, Comey's firing has only heightened Democratic lawmakers' suspicions that the Trump administration is attempting to squash the probe.
“The inescapable conclusion from the circumstantial evidence here is the president wanted to stop or stifle this investigation,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told ABC News.
On May 10, Trump took to social media to respond to criticism of his decision to fire the FBI director.
"Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike," Trump tweeted out. "When things calm down, they will be thanking me!"
Conservative analyst Bill Kristol has asserted on social media that Comey's critics are not being hypocritical when they protest his dismissal.
"One can be at once a critic of Comey and alarmed by what Trump has done and how he has done it," Kristol tweeted out.