Comey reaches deal with House Republicans to testify
Former FBI director James Comey has come to an agreement with House Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight Committees to give a private deposition as soon as today.
Comey had sued the committees, looking to force Republicans to hear his testimony in public. But Comey was forced to drop that suit when it became clear he didn't have a legal leg to stand on.
Citing a history of congressional leaks creating a "corrosive narrative," Comey's lawyers had resisted the GOP's subpoena and insisted on a public hearing. They said in court documents Republicans' demand for closed-door testimony "exceeds a proper legislative purpose, is issued in violation of House rules, and unduly prejudices and harasses the witness."
But Comey, who was called to testify on Monday and is now expected to testify later this week, relented after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., agreed on Nov. 28 that the former FBI head's remarks would be made public in their entirety.
"Grateful for a fair hearing from judge," Comey wrote on Twitter Sunday. "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."
Fox News has confirmed that a key focus of questioning will be Comey's decision to write the July 2016 statement recommending against filing criminal charges in the Clinton email probe before she was interviewed. And, Comey likely will be pressed on intelligence activity months before the Russia investigation into Trump campaign contacts officially opened in late July 2016.
Comey's arrogance in looking to dictate the terms and manner of his appearance before a congressional committee would have been slapped down by any federal judge. Not only was his legal argument "novel" – something judges usually frown on – but it was ridiculous. Rather than receive a very public, very harsh rebuke from a judge, Comey caved.
It doesn't matter if Comey's concerns about public leaking were justified. It's simply not his call to make. For their part, Republicans are giving Comey the opportunity to publicly spin his testimony while getting him on the record about his decisions on the Clinton email scandal and the FBI's possible process violations in securing a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
It's not likely any new information will be forthcoming from Comey's testimony. But Comey's affadavit will be part of the final report being prepared by the House Judiciary Committee that may open a few eyes about just what the FBI was up to in the months leading up to and immediately after the 2016 election.