Comey cleared to tes­tify about Rus­sia, FBI fir­ing

No firm date, but he’s ex­pected to ap­pear next week

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAN BOY­LAN

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.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.

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