Former FBI director James Comey will reportedly testify to Congress in a closed-door hearing on Friday.
The news comes after months of back-and-forth between Comey and the House Judiciary Committee, which had issued a subpoena requesting that Comey testify in a private hearing. The former FBI director expressed a wish to testify publicly and initiated a brief legal battle over the subpoena, accusing Committee Republicans of intending “to mislead the public and to undermine public confidence in the FBI and the DOJ,” by selectively leaking bits of testimony from his private testimony.
“I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions,” Comey wrote on Twitter Thanksgiving Day. “But I will resist a ‘closed door’ thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”
Comey apparently relented later, agreeing to testify privately in a voluntary hearing provided that he be allowed to talk about the hearing afterwards and that a transcript of his testimony be released publicly 24 hours later.
“Grateful for a fair hearing from judge,” Comey wrote Sunday on Twitter. “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.”
Goodlatte and other Committee Republicans want Comey to testify to shed light on the conduct of the Justice Department and FBI in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The Judiciary and Oversight Committees have interviewed other senior Justice Department and FBI officials during their investigation into the agencies’ handling of probes into Hillary Clinton’s email practices and Russian meddling in the election.
“There was no need to use baseless litigation in an attempt to run out the clock on this Congress, and I am glad that it was withdrawn,” Goodlatte said in a statement on Sunday. “Mr. Comey will join us for a closed-door transcribed interview later this week. We will release the transcript of his interview to the public as soon as possible after the interview, in the name of our combined desire for transparency.”
President Trump fired Comey in May 2017, when the FBI chief was still in charge of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. After Comey’s firing and the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the investigation was handed over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.