House GOP intends to seek Comey interview after August recess
House Republicans are planning to seek an interview with former FBI Director James Comey in September to discuss his decisionmaking during the 2016 election, The Hill has learned.
GOP members of the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees are expected to request Comey’s testimony after lawmakers return from their four-week August recess, according to three lawmakers familiar with the matter.
The Judiciary and Oversight committees, which are leading a joint investigation into the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, are eager to press the former FBI chief on a series of decisions he made during the 2016 campaign and after President Trump fired him in May 2017.
The lawmakers — one Democrat and two Republicans — indicated that planning is still in the early stages, and an invitation has not yet been extended to Comey.
According to one of the two GOP lawmakers, the interview with the two committees would likely take place behind closed doors.
“Comey is on the list of witnesses to bring in over the next eight weeks, but it will probably be for a deposition, not a public hearing,” the lawmaker told The Hill.
The other Republican said that if Comey doesn’t respond to an invitation to appear voluntarily, they would probably subpoena him.
“If he resists, there is discussion — and I anticipate — that he would be subpoenaed,” the GOP lawmaker The Hill.
The Democratic lawmaker said Republicans will likely make a push for Comey to appear in September, and that it would either be a closed-door interview or a joint hearing in public.
A House Judiciary Committee aide confirmed that the panel intends to bring in Comey for an interview, but said no date has been set.
A spokesperson for the Oversight committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Comey’s lawyer.
House conservatives in recent months have expressed their interest in interviewing Comey regarding the FBI’s handling of both the Russia probe and Clinton’s email server in 2016.
Congressional Republicans have already interviewed several high-profile FBI employees, current and former, regarding the agency’s actions leading up to the 2016 elections. Counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and former lawyer Lisa Page came under fire for sending text messages criticizing President Trump during the 2016 campaign, and both were interviewed by House lawmakers earlier this month.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report last month that was highly critical of Comey’s judgment during the heated presidential race, but the report found no evidence that his key decisions in the investigation into Clinton’s emails were improperly influenced by political bias.
Comey has faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats who disagreed with how he handled the Clinton email probe. Republicans say she should’ve been charged, while Clinton and her allies say his announcement about reviewing new emails so close to the election cost her the presidency.
Comey reemerged as a Republican target earlier this year with the release of his book, in which he took personal shots at the president, commenting on Trump’s physical appearance and comparing him to a mob boss. Critics said he was politicizing the FBI and unfairly attacking Trump.
Trump has called Comey an “untruthful slime ball,” a “leaker” and the “worst FBI director in history.”
Coinciding with the book release, House Republicans sought to obtain Comey’s memos — the records he kept as FBI director to document his interactions with Trump.
During congressional testimony last year, Comey said he wrote the memos because he felt the president inappropriately asked him to pledge his loyalty to him while he was spearheading the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
He also said Trump asked him to drop his investigation into now-former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who left the administration after news reports that he had lied to investigators about his contacts with a Russian diplomat. Trump said he never asked Comey to abandon the probe.
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