US President Donald Trump has fired the director of the FBI over his handling of the inquiry into Hillary Clinton's emails, the administration says.
The White House shocked Washington by announcing that James Comey "has been terminated and removed from office".
But Democrats said he was fired because the FBI was investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The move came as it emerged Comey gave inaccurate information about Clinton's emails to Congress last week.
President Trump wrote in a letter to Comey that he agreed with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recommendation that "you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau".
Sessions said the Department of Justice was "committed to a high level of discipline, integrity, and the rule of law", and "a fresh start is needed".
The White House said the search for a successor would begin immediately.
Comey was addressing FBI agents in Los Angeles when he was handed a note by one of his team informing him he had just been fired.
The 56-year-old - who was four years into his 10-year term as FBI director - reportedly laughed, thinking it was a prank.