Fired FBI chief Comey to testify publicly in Congress
James Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief whose firing by President Donald Trump has triggered uproar, has agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the 2016 elections, lawmakers announced Friday.
In their announcement Friday, Burr and Warner announced that Comey would testify in open session, and that they would schedule that session after the Memorial Day break.
While the White House initially pointed to a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining Comey’s mismanagement of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as the impetus for his termination, Trump later admitted that the Russian Federation investigation – which he has called a “hoax” – played a role.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein issued a joint statement Friday saying they were “extremely disappointed” he declined an invitation to testify before their panel.
Burr says the committee wants to hear from Comey on his role in the development of the USA intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russian Federation interfered in last year’s election.
The ex-FBI chief has not spoken publicly since his surprise firing last week.
“I hope that former Director Comey’s testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President”, Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner said in a statement announcing Comey’s decision. The Post didn’t name the official.
And The New York Times said the United States president had told top Russian officials Mr Comey’s sacking had relieved “great pressure” on him. In his memo, Comey allegedly documented an instance after a meeting he had with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Times reported Friday that Trump told the Russians that recently fired FBI Director James Comey was a “nut job” whose ouster relieved “great pressure” on him.
Mr Comey’s willingness to testify in an open session will likely alarm the White House, which has been struggling to contain the fallout from the sacking of one of America’s highest profile officials.
On Thursday, Mr Trump declared himself the victim of the “greatest witch hunt” in American political history and denied allegations of collusion. “He was insane, a real nut job”, Mr Trump said, according to a document detailing the Russian visit.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who chairs a Judiciary subcommittee panel that has been driving much of the Russian Federation probe, echoed Grassley’s and Feinstein’s frustrations, and said he was “surprised” Comey would agree to testify at all, “given the fact that we now have a Special Counsel who will likely be investigating matters related” to his conversations with Trump. By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russias actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia, Spicer said.