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Comey learned of firing from TV while talking to FBI agents in LA, source says

This still frame from video provided by KABC-TV shows former FBI director James Comey and his entourage boarding a private jet at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Comey was scheduled to make an early-evening speech in Los Angeles, but was fired by President Donald Trump earlier in the day. (KABC-TV)
By Richard Winton and James Queally Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – James B. Comey, who was ousted Tuesday as FBI director by President Donald Trump, learned about his firing from a TV news report while speaking with FBI agents in Los Angeles, according to an FBI source.

“He was caught flat-footed,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Comey was surprised by the news but kept talking to the agents, the source said.

Comey had been set to speak Tuesday night at an FBI recruiting event in Hollywood. But Comey instead headed for Los Angeles International Airport.

More than two dozen reporters were standing outside the Directors Guild of America, where the event was taking place, awaiting Comey.

In announcing Comey’s firing, Trump said the move was necessary to allow a “new beginning” at the FBI.

Comey has been supervising an investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and the possibility of cooperation between people linked to Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Meanwhile, the FBI director has been widely criticized by people in both parties for his handling of investigations connected to the election – the Russia inquiry as well as the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state.