Grassley 'extremely disappointed' Comey won't testify before panel

Grassley 'extremely disappointed' Comey won't testify before panel
© Greg Nash

The top lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday criticized former FBI Director James Comey's decision to not testify before their panel and only testify before the panel investigating Russia's interference in the election.

“We’re extremely disappointed in James Comey’s decision not to testify voluntarily before the Judiciary Committee," committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks, background checks Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

"There is no reason he can’t testify before both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, particularly given that the Judiciary Committee is the FBI’s primary oversight committee with broad jurisdiction over federal law enforcement, FISA and the nomination of the next FBI director," they added.

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"Given his commitment to the people and the mission of the FBI, we expected him to be responsive to the senators responsible for vetting its next proposed leader. He should reconsider his decision.”

Both the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees had invited Comey to testify earlier this week, following revelations that President Trump had asked Comey in February to shut down the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey agreed on Friday to testify before the intelligence panel, which is currently probing Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, as well as alleged collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

The judiciary committee, however, is the panel that provides oversight of the Justice Department and the agencies that fall under it, including the FBI.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Overnight Defense: Lawmakers question military's lapse after Texas shooting | Trump asks North Korea to 'make a deal' | Senate panel approves Army pick Overnight Regulation: House passes bill to overturn joint-employer rule | Trump officials to allow work requirements for Medicaid | Lawmakers 'alarmed' by EPA's science board changes MORE (R-Texas), who sits on both committees, said Wednesday that Comey would "get plenty of opportunities to come in and talk."

"It looks like there's a little competition for jurisdiction," Cornyn said. "But truthfully both the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee have some say in all of that, so I'm sure he'll get plenty of opportunities to come in and talk."