U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions late on March 16 fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was criticized by President Donald Trump for showing "bias" in the investigation of ties between his campaign and Russia.
Sessions said he was dismissing McCabe two days before his scheduled retirement on the recommendation of the FBI's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility.
Sessions said investigators in the FBI offices "concluded that Mr. McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
The firing came nine months after Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey over his handling of the Russia investigation -- a move that alarmed Congress and led to the creation of a special counsel and the appointment of Robert Mueller to conduct the investigation.
McCabe's dismissal came two days before his 50th birthday, when he would have been eligible to retire from the FBI with a full pension.
The firing is likely to raise questions about whether McCabe received overly harsh treatment due to political pressure from Trump, who has blasted McCabe on Twitter and called for his ouster.
"I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey," McCabe said in a statement.
"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort...to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally," he said.
Besides overseeing the Russia investigation for a time after Comey was fired, McCabe also oversaw the FBI's probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private e-mails.
Trump criticized McCabe as "biased" against him and in favor of Clinton in his conduct of both investigations.
After McCabe's firing was announced, Trump applauded the move on Twitter, calling it "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI, a great day for Democracy."
In his lengthy statement, McCabe said he believes he is being politically targeted because he provided evidence to Mueller corroborating Comey's claims that Trump tried to pressure him into ending the Russia probe.
After ousting Comey last year, Trump acknowledged in a televised interview that he fired Comey over "this Russia thing."
While McCabe says he is a Republican, Trump claimed he was biased against him because McCabe's wife Jill ran for a Virginia state office as a Democrat in 2015 and received campaign donations from a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The FBI determined, however, that McCabe's wife's campaign did not pose a conflict of interest because McCabe was not running the Russia investigation or the investigation of Clinton's e-mails at the time.