24 Frantic Hours: Photos Show the Trump-Comey Saga Unfold

President Donald Trump's sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, May 9, stunned the political world — the bureau was investigating possible ties between Trump's election campaign and Russia, meaning Trump is the first president to remove the person leading an investigation with ties to the White House since Richard Nixon.

Comey's termination arrived with little warning. A whirlwind exploded in the White House press offices, according to accounts from the press corps, the affair was greeted with bipartisan skepticism and wall-to-wall news coverage for which the president's team seemed unprepared.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to reporters outside the White House's West Wing after President Donald Trump terminated FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.
AP Photo/Jon Elswick
A letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein titled "Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI" is seen in Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's election meddling. In the letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the FBI. He cited Rosenstein's letter, and another from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, arrives for a news conference at the Capitol shortly after Comey was fired. Schumer said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Comey had been investigating. The swift, shocked reaction from Schumer and other politicians, Republicans as well as Democrats, reportedly caught the White House off guard.
Comey was caught unaware as well. He was in Los Angeles, where multiple reports indicated he learned of his termination from blaring TV headlines while he was giving a speech to agents. He skipped a planned appearance at a recruiting event and headed to Los Angeles International Airport, with news helicopters capturing his motorcade navigating the city's notorious rush-hour traffic.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to reporters outside the White House's West Wing. Aides were given little notice of Trump's decision, and initially said the press would not be briefed about the decision. But soon, staff scrambled to get on TV to explain that Trump decided to fire Comey that day, after reviewing the letter from his deputy attorney general. Spicer gave an interview among bushes outside the White House, then emerged to give a briefing in near darkness.
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White House aide Kellyanne Conway holds up a copy of the memo from Rosenstein during an interview with CNN at the White House on Wednesday, after speaking with reporters the night before. Trump was reportedly furious at how the news of Comey's termination was received; Conway told CNN host Chris Cuomo that it was "inappropriate" for him to question Trump's timing.
Photo by Alexander ShcherbakTASS via Getty Images
In the midst of the turmoil over Comey's firing, and questions about the future of the FBI investigation into possible Russian election interference, Trump held a closed-door meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak, whose undisclosed meetings with members of the Trump campaign may be part of the investigation. This image was distributed by a Russian state media outlet; U.S. media were not allowed in the meeting, though they were allowed into a subsequent Trump meeting with former U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger.
Reports began leaking out that Comey was fired soon after requesting more resources for his investigation. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said at a much-anticipated press briefing — the first since the saga began — that she was unaware if Trump knew of that request.

Trump once applauded Comey's handling of the FBI's Hillary Clinton investigation during the election, but now cited it as a reason for dismissing Comey. When asked what accounted for Trump's change in attitude, Sanders said Rosenstein "outlined the basic just atrocities in circumventing the chain of command in the Department of Justice."
AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz
An Associated Press photographer snaps a picture of Comey at his home in McLean, Virginia, on Wednesday afternoon. He wrote a farewell letter to the bureau, saying "It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution."
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