Judge postpones ruling on Comey challenge to GOP subpoena

A district court judge on Friday postponed issuing a ruling on former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyReport accuses US tech giants of impeding Senate's Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms Impatience, exuberance will define new Congress MORE’s effort to quash a GOP-issued subpoena.

Judge Trevor McFadden gave the two sides the weekend to provide additional information about their arguments. The court will reconvene Monday at 10 a.m. for a ruling.

Comey on Thursday sought to quash the subpoena for closed-door testimony, arguing that House Republicans would seek to “peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russia investigations through selective leaks” if he was not interviewed in public.

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Comey’s attorneys Vincent Cohen and David Kelley argued in the motion that the subpoena “exceeds a proper legislative purpose, is issued in violation of House rules, and unduly prejudices and harasses the witness.”

“They just want to zero in and gang up,” Kelley told the judge on Friday.

Comey, who did not appear in court, says he welcomes the opportunity to testify publicly, which he says would remove the threat of selective leaking.

Comey's legal team separately filed a motion to stay his closed-door testimony until after the case could be argued and the judge could issue a ruling on it.

Thomas Hungar, the general counsel for the House of Representatives, challenged the legitimacy of Comey’s legal efforts, arguing that it would be unprecedented for the courts to interfere with their efforts to subpoena witnesses.

Hungar says the federal government has “absolute” sovereign immunity in a civil suit and that even a court-issued stay would be viewed as interfering in congressional proceedings.

In response, Kelley quipped to the judge: “Here’s your opportunity to make some law.”

Hungar also appeared to mock Comey’s argument about distorting the nature of his testimony. He said that the closed-door depositions are not classified so lawmakers can appropriately discuss his testimony afterward and that the First Amendment protects these GOP lawmakers who may mutter remarks that Comey doesn't like.

The subpoena initially requested for Comey to appear on Monday — but the House committees have since said they now want to have him interviewed on Tuesday. The change, Kelley argued, warrants a new subpoena.

Critics view the GOP-led probe as part of a broader push to discredit special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into potential collusion between President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE’s campaign and Moscow.

Comey has become an outspoken critic of Trump since the president abruptly fired him in May 2017, an event that ultimately triggered the appointment of Mueller as special counsel. Mueller is said to be probing the circumstances surrounding Comey’s removal in an effort to determine whether Trump obstructed justice.

House Republicans have been jockeying for Comey’s testimony for months. In October, Comey declined a nonbinding request from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for his testimony, which ultimately led Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTrump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report GOP, Comey have tense day — with promise of a second date The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Trump taps William Barr as new AG | Nauert picked to replace Haley at UN | Washington waits for bombshell Mueller filing MORE (R-Va.) to issue the subpoena last week.

Goodlatte has also subpoenaed former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to submit to a closed-door interview on Dec. 4.