Comey cleared to testify about Russia, FBI firing
No firm date, but he’s expected to appear next week
Former FBI Director James B. Comey is on track to testify before Congress as early as next week to address accusations that President Trump, who fired him in early May, privately applied pressure to end the bureau’s investigation into suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, inside sources were quoted as saying on Wednesday.
In what could be a highly anticipated coming-out party, Mr. Comey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of several congressional probes into the Russian election issue, in his first public testimony since abruptly losing his post. Sources close to Mr. Comey said he had worked out an understanding with Robert Mueller, the former FBI director just appointed as special counsel into the Russia allegations, on what he could discuss at the open hearing without compromising the investigation.
Republicans could seek more details on inconsistencies in Mr. Comey’s last public testimony — especially regarding his handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state — in addition to a series of what appear to be high-level leaks related to the probe.
No firm date for Mr. Comey’s testimony next week has been released.
Early last month, Mr. Trump shocked Washington by firing the FBI director, who was four years into a 10-year term and became only the second director in the bureau’s history to be fired.
The White House, which repeatedly called the Russian investigations a “witch hunt,” went on the offensive and characterized the FBI’s inquiry as “probably one of the smallest things” that the bureau had “on their plate.” Mr. Trump also reportedly called Mr. Comey a “nut job” in a subsequent meeting with Russian officials.
The dismissal sent Democrats and liberals into a frenzy, even prompting some to call for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
In mid-May, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who wrote the memo initially cited as the basis for firing Mr. Comey, named Mr. Mueller as special counsel to study the Russia issue.
The well-respected Mr. Mueller is now conducting a Department of Justicesupported criminal investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Published reports on Wednesday said Mr. Comey has spoken privately with Mr. Mueller about next week’s testimony to establish legal parameters of what his public account could detail. Longtime colleagues at the FBI, Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller are expected to sit down for a formal interview after Mr. Comey’s public testimony.
Since last month’s firing, multiple accounts have emerged of tense confrontations earlier this year between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, which Mr. Comey recounted in memos shortly after each encounter.
According to Mr. Comey, those confrontations included Mr. Trump allegedly demanding his “loyalty” — in addition to the president urging him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s embattled former national security adviser.
According to Mr. Trump, Mr. Comey, on three different occasions, told him he “was not under investigation.”
Separately, the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday it is issuing subpoenas for Mr. Flynn and President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as well as their businesses, as part of its investigation, The Associated Press reported.
In addition to those four subpoenas, the committee has issued three others — to the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA — for information about requests that government officials made to “unmask” the identities of U.S. individuals named in classified intelligence reports, according to a congressional aide. Fox News reported that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, and Samantha Power, Mr. Obama’s U.N. ambassador, were among those named in the subpoenas regarding unmasking concerns.
No date has been set yet for former FBI Director James B. Comey’s testimony next week has been released. Mr. Comey was fired by President Trump on May 9.