On Monday, FBI Director James Comey turned on Donald Trump when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Barack Obama did not wiretap him, despite the existence of the infamous FISA warrant. Now, this move has come back to bite him in a big way.
Under a United States statute that first went into effectin 1968, FBI directors are nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate — a process similar to the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices or presidential cabinet officials.
Unlike the justices, who are appointed for life and cannot be fired — but can be impeached by congress (which has happened only one time in American history) — or cabinet officials who have no set terms, the FBI director is appointed to a single term of 10 years.
The statute establishing the 10-year term limit was passed in 1976, four years after the death of legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who held on to the job for 48 years.
But according to a 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service, “there are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director.” In other words, the President can indeed fire the FBI director. An FBI director can also be removed by congress, through the impeachment process.
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