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James Comey stops in Jacksonville hours before his firing

President Donald Trump abruptly axes FBI director in midst of Russia probe

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(FBI LEEDA via Twitter)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just hours before President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday afternoon, the nation's top law enforcement official made a stop in Jacksonville. 

Comey served as the keynote speaker for the Law Enforcement Executive Development Association conference at the Hyatt Regency downtown, Amanda Warford Videll, spokeswoman for Jacksonville's FBI office, confirmed to News4Jax.

Videll said Comey also met with FBI Special Agent Charles Spencer before departing Jacksonville at 11 a.m.

He then headed to Los Angeles, where he was speaking to agents at an FBI field office when the news of his hiring broke, according to a law enforcement official who was present at the time. 

The firing came in the midst of an FBI investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's meddling in the election that sent him to the White House.

In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his public comments on an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year's campaign.

Trump made no mention of Comey's role in the Clinton investigation, which she has blamed in part for the election result. But in announcing the firing, the White House circulated a scathing memo, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, criticizing Comey's handling of the Clinton probe, including the director's decision to hold a news conference announcing its findings and releasing "derogatory information" about Clinton.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the bureau's Trump-Russia probe, Rosenstein has been in charge.

This is only the second firing of an FBI director in history. President Bill Clinton dismissed William Sessions amid allegations of ethical lapses in 1993.

At this time, Videll said, they are not commenting on Comey's firing. 

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.