The FBI Director is appointed by the President and, since 1972, confirmed by the Senate.J. Edgar Hoover, appointed by President Calvin Coolidge to the predecessor office of Director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924, was by far the longest-serving director, holding the position from its establishment under the current title in 1935 until his death in 1972. In 1976, in response to Hoover's lengthy tenure and during the Watergate era, Congress imposed a term limit of ten years for future directors, which was waived by the Senate for Robert Mueller on July 27, 2011 due to serious security concerns at that time. Since 1976, Directors serve a ten-year term unless they resign, die, or are removed, but in practice, since Hoover, none have served a full ten years, except Mueller who served twelve years with the leave of Congress.
The Director can be removed from office by the President. Since the Director serves "at the pleasure of the President", the removal from office can be either with or without cause.[citation needed ] After removal until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate, the Deputy Director automatically acts in the role. The appointment of the Deputy Director is not a presidential appointment and does not require Senate confirmation. The President can appoint an Interim Director pending Senate confirmation or nomination of permanent Director.
When the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) was established in 1908, its head was called the Chief of the Bureau of Investigation. It was changed to the Director of the Bureau of Investigation in the term of William J. Flynn (1919–1921), and to its current name when the BOI was renamed FBI in 1935.
|Finch, Stanley Stanley Finch||000000001908-07-26-0000 July 26, 1908 – April 30, 1912||7003137400000000000♠ 3 years, 279 days||First Chief, then Director of the BOI||Theodore Roosevelt; William H. Taft|
|Bielaski, A. Bruce A. Bruce Bielaski||000000001912-04-30-0000 April 30, 1912 – February 10, 1919||7003247700000000000♠ 6 years, 286 days||William H. Taft; Woodrow Wilson|
|Allen, William E. William E. Allen||000000001919-02-10-0000 February 10, 1919 – June 30, 1919||7002140000000000000♠ 140 days||Acting Director||Woodrow Wilson|
|Flynn, William J. William J. Flynn||000000001919-07-01-0000 July 1, 1919 – August 21, 1921||7002782000000000000♠ 2 years, 51 days||Woodrow Wilson; Warren Harding|
|Burns, William J. William J. Burns||000000001921-08-22-0000 August 22, 1921 – May 10, 1924||7002992000000000000♠ 2 years, 262 days||Warren Harding; Calvin Coolidge|
|Hoover, J. Edgar J. Edgar Hoover||000000001924-05-10-0000 May 10, 1924 – June 30, 1935||7003406800000000000♠ 11 years, 51 days||Director of the BOI||Calvin Coolidge; Herbert Hoover; Franklin D. Roosevelt|
The FBI became an independent service within the Department of Justice in 1935. In the same year, its name was officially changed to the present-day Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, with J. Edgar Hoover receiving the current title of Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
|Hoover, J. Edgar J. Edgar Hoover||000000001935-07-01-0000 July 1, 1935 – May 2, 1972||7004134550000000000♠ 36 years, 306 days||Director of the FBI; died from a heart attack at his Washington, D.C., home on May 2, 1972.||Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry Truman; Dwight Eisenhower; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon Johnson; Richard Nixon|
|Tolson, Clyde Clyde Tolson||000000001972-05-02-0000 May 2, 1972 – May 3, 1972||7000100000000000000♠ 1 day||Acting Director of the FBI||Richard Nixon|
|Gray, L. Patrick L. Patrick Gray||000000001972-05-03-0000 May 3, 1972 – April 27, 1973||7002359000000000000♠ 359 days||Acting Director of the FBI||Richard Nixon|
|Ruckelshaus, William William Ruckelshaus||000000001973-04-30-0000 April 30, 1973 – July 9, 1973||7001700000000000000♠ 70 days||Acting Director of the FBI||Richard Nixon|
|Kelley, Clarence M. Clarence M. Kelley||000000001973-07-09-0000 July 9, 1973 – February 15, 1978||7003168200000000000♠ 4 years, 221 days||Richard Nixon; Gerald Ford; Jimmy Carter|
|Adams, James B. James B. Adams||000000001978-02-15-0000 February 15, 1978 – February 23, 1978||7000800000000000000♠ 8 days||Associate Director of the FBI; Acting Director||Jimmy Carter|
|Webster, William H. William H. Webster||000000001978-02-23-0000 February 23, 1978 – May 25, 1987||7003337800000000000♠ 9 years, 91 days||Jimmy Carter; Ronald Reagan|
|Otto, John E. John E. Otto||000000001987-05-26-0000 May 26, 1987 – November 2, 1987||7002160000000000000♠ 160 days||Deputy Director of the FBI; Acting Director||Ronald Reagan|
|Sessions, William S. William S. Sessions||000000001987-11-02-0000 November 2, 1987 – July 19, 1993||7003208600000000000♠ 5 years, 259 days||Dismissed by President Bill Clinton||Ronald Reagan; George H.W. Bush; Bill Clinton|
|Clarke, Floyd I. Floyd I. Clarke||000000001993-07-19-0000 July 19, 1993 – September 1, 1993||7001440000000000000♠ 44 days||Deputy Director of the FBI; Acting Director||Bill Clinton|
|Freeh, Louis Louis Freeh||000000001993-09-01-0000 September 1, 1993 – June 25, 2001||7003285400000000000♠ 7 years, 297 days||Bill Clinton; George W. Bush|
|Pickard, Thomas J. Thomas J. Pickard||000000002001-06-25-0000 June 25, 2001 – September 4, 2001||7001710000000000000♠ 71 days||Deputy Director of the FBI; Acting Director||George W. Bush|
|Mueller, Robert Robert Mueller||000000002001-09-04-0000 September 4, 2001 – September 4, 2013||7003438300000000000♠ 12 years, 0 days||George W. Bush; Barack Obama|
|Comey, James James Comey||000000002013-09-04-0000 September 4, 2013 – May 9, 2017||7003134300000000000♠ 3 years, 247 days||Dismissed by President Donald Trump||Barack Obama; Donald Trump|
|Andrew McCabe||000000002017-05-09-0000 May 9, 2017 – present||7001300000000000000♠ 30 days||Deputy Director of the FBI; Acting Director||Donald Trump|
|Christopher A. Wray||Nominee|
Pending Senate confirmation
*Senate confirmation of nominee was required after 1972.
Just before Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States on January 20, 1993, allegations of ethical improprieties were made against Sessions. A report by outgoing Attorney General William P. Barr presented to the Justice Department that month by the Office of Professional Responsibility included criticisms that he had used an FBI plane to travel to visit his daughter on several occasions, and had a security system installed in his home at government expense.Janet Reno, the 78th Attorney General of the United States, announced that Sessions had exhibited "serious deficiencies in judgment."
Although Sessions denied that he had acted improperly, he was pressured to resign in early July, with some suggesting that President Clinton was giving Sessions the chance to step down in a dignified manner. Sessions refused, saying that he had done nothing wrong, and insisted on staying in office until his successor was confirmed. As a result, President Clinton dismissed Sessions on July 19, 1993. Sessions was five and a half years into a ten-year term as FBI director; however, the holder of this post serves at the pleasure of the President.
Ronald Kessler's book, The FBI: Inside the World's Most Powerful Law Enforcement Agency, led to the dismissal by President Clinton of Sessions as FBI director over his abuses. According to the Washington Post, "A Justice Department official...noted that the original charges against Sessions came not from FBI agents but from a journalist, Ronald Kessler [who uncovered the abuses while writing a book about the FBI, leading to Sessions' dismissal by President Clinton]..." The New York Times said Kessler's FBI book "did indeed trigger bureau and Justice Department investigations into alleged travel and expense abuses [by FBI Director William Sessions, leading to his departure]...
Clinton nominated Louis Freeh to the FBI directorship on July 20. Then–FBI Deputy Director Floyd I. Clarke, who Sessions suggested had led a coup to force his removal, served as Acting Director until September 1, 1993, when Freeh was sworn in.
Sessions returned to Texas where on December 7, 1999, he was named the state chair of Texas Exile, a statewide initiative aimed at reducing gun crime.
On May 9, 2017, President Trump fired Comey after the recommendation of United States Attorney GeneralJeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney GeneralRod Rosenstein. Rosenstein's memorandum to Sessions objected to Comey's conduct in the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. This was contradicted by multiple unnamed sources to news outlets, who said that Trump and high-level officials personally asked for Comey to be fired. Comey was fired after he requested money and resources to expand the probe into Russian interference into the Presidential election. Many members of Congress expressed concern over the firing and argued that it would put the integrity of the investigation into jeopardy.
Comey's termination was immediately controversial, even being characterized as corrupt by some news commentators. It was compared to the Saturday Night Massacre, President Richard Nixon's termination of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who had been investigating the Watergate scandal, and to the firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in January 2017.
In the dismissal letter Trump stated that Comey had asserted “on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.”This is disputed by reporting from multiple news agencies with multiple sources. According to the reporting, Trump had been openly talking about firing Mr. Comey for at least a week before his dismissal. Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment. Moreover, Trump was angry that Comey would not support his claim that President Barack Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped,frustrated when Comey revealed in Senate testimony the breadth of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election and that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not to internal leaks within the government. On May 8, 2017, He told Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein a directive to explain in writing a case against Comey. That directive was forwarded to Trump as a recommendation to dismiss Comey the following day, which Trump did.
Comey first learned of his termination from television news reports that flashed on screen while he was delivering a speech to agents at the Los Angeles Field Office. Sources said he was surprised and caught off guard by the termination. Comey immediately departed for Washington, D.C., and was forced to cancel his scheduled speech that night at an FBI recruitment event at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood, California.