Ex-FBI Director agrees to Congressional testimony after cutting deal with lawmakers
Former FBI Director James Comey announced on Sunday he has agreed to testify before Congress this week, asking the court to withdraw his motion to halt their subpoena.
GOP chairmen have been trying to bring Comey to Capitol Hill to explain his decisions related to the 2016 election, especially the probes into Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email server and the investigation into Russian activities during the campaign.
Last week, he filed a motion to stop their subpoena and delay the proceedings, with his attorney telling a federal judge on Friday he would talk publicly, but claimed that the closed-door session the House has planned is a set-up to “peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks.”
“Grateful for a fair hearing from judge. Hard to protect my rights without being in contempt, which I don’t believe in. So will sit in the dark, but Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours. This is the closest I can get to public testimony,” Mr. Comey tweeted Sunday after agreeing to the closed-door session.
According to The Daily Caller, Comey’s announcement brings to an end a short-lived standoff over the former FBI chief’s congressional testimony.
Republicans on the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees subpoenaed Comey on Nov. 21 to appear for a closed-door deposition on Dec. 3 to face questions about his handling of the Clinton email and Trump-Russia collusion investigations.
But in an emergency court hearing Friday, Comey’s attorneys acknowledged that the request to quash the congressional subpoena was unorthodox, suggesting the motion had little chance of succeeding.
Comey wrote Sunday on Twitter that he was “grateful for a fair hearing from judge.”
He said that he will testify “in the dark” but that Republicans had agreed he is “free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours.”
“This is the closest I can get to public testimony,” he wrote.
Grateful for a fair hearing from judge. Hard to protect my rights without being in contempt, which I don’t believe in. So will sit in the dark, but Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours. This is the closest I can get to public testimony.
— James Comey (@Comey) December 2, 2018
Republicans argued against Comey’s motion to block the subpoena, noting that other current and former FBI officials have testified privately during the course of the committees’ investigation of the Clinton and Trump probes.
“Sixteen other people have testified under oath in the same setting that we’re asking him to do it and his claim that he needs to do it in public is, in my opinion, a farce,” Virginia GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Fox News on Friday.
Republicans have accused the FBI and Justice Department of going easy on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and of abusing the surveillance court process to obtain spy warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Republican lawyers said they wanted to secure Comey’s testimony ahead of a report that the committees are planning to release in the coming weeks.
“If Mr. Comey’s deposition were to be stayed, it would have a profound impact on the Committee’s investigation and prevent the Committee from providing a full accounting of DOJ’s actions in 2016,” lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a court filing Friday.
“The Committee intends to issue a joint report (together with [the House Oversight Committee]) before the end of the 115th Congress – i.e., in a few short weeks.”