The FBI has fired its director amid a widening probe into possible coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russia in the 2016 election.
The move comes as FBI Director James Comey has been widely criticized for publicly declaring that the bureau was “not investigating” any links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Comey’s dismissal came in a letter that the president said was “inadvertent” and was intended to protect the nation from a “witch hunt.”
Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia is a witch hunt, but it has been unclear whether he was referring to the FBI or a separate special counsel.
He has denied any collusion by the campaign or the Russians.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the firing.
The dismissal came hours after Comey announced that the agency had closed a criminal investigation into a Russian cyberattack against Democratic groups and individuals in the US.
The announcement marked the end of an FBI investigation that was launched in 2016 to determine whether the Russians tried to interfere in the presidential election.
Comey announced in March that the investigation into possible Russian interference had closed.
Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said the president was “happy to have the investigation completed and to move on with the presidency.”
Kasowitz said Comey had a history of trying to interfere with the bureau’s investigation and the president “did not want to see the bureau continue to be used in this way.”
He added that the decision to fire Comey was “made without any recommendation to me, and it was made with the understanding that the President would have no further involvement in the decision.”
Comey had been widely praised for the bureau investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia.
Trump first named Comey as his deputy director in March, less than a month after Comey was fired.
Trump said he asked Comey to stay on as FBI director “because I needed him as my attorney general” in part because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Comey told Congress at the time that Trump asked him to step down in February after he had previously assured him he would not be fired for the Clinton email probe.
Trump has since denied he pressured Comey to drop the Clinton probe.
Comey also was criticized for a public statement he made in April 2016 that the Bureau was “very close” to closing an investigation into the possible involvement of Russia in an email hack.
Comey had said in his confirmation hearing that he had been told that the probe was “closed” but that he did not believe it.
Comey said at the hearing that there was no evidence of collusion between the campaign and the Russians and that there had been “zero contact” between the Kremlin and any Trump campaign official.
Trump also fired the FBI director’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, in May, saying McCabe had been a “disgrace to the Department of Justice.”
McCabe was appointed as acting director in August.
McCabe resigned the following month after it was revealed that he was being paid $13,000 a month to provide legal advice to Trump.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has been conducting an investigation on possible ties between the White House and Russia since early last year.
The investigation is focused on Russian meddling in the election and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.
Chaffetz said that McCabe had not been told of any decision to dismiss Comey.