Comey gives tes­ti­mony

For­mer FBI di­rec­tor says he’s not sure why he needed to an­swer ques­tions at all

The Sudbury Star - - WORLD NEWS - MARY CLARE JALONICK THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

WASH­ING­TON — House Repub­li­cans in­ter­viewed James Comey be­hind closed doors Fri­day, haul­ing the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor to Capi­tol Hill one fi­nal time be­fore they cede power to Democrats in Jan­uary. GOP law­mak­ers who stepped out­side while the ques­tion­ing was un­der­way in­di­cated they weren’t sat­is­fied and will bring him back later this month.

Comey wasn’t pleased ei­ther, telling re­porters, “We’re talk­ing about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails, for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we needed to do this at all.”

A tran­script of the in­ter­view “will bore you,” Comey said af­ter the six-hour in­ter­view with two House com­mit­tees.

Repub­li­cans say Comey and other Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials were bi­ased against Trump as they in­ves­ti­gated his cam­paign’s ties with Rus­sia in 2016 and cleared Clin­ton in a sep­a­rate probe into her email use.

Comey said he will be back at the Capi­tol for an­other closed-door in­ter­view the week of Dec. 17.

Democrats also were un­happy, say­ing Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Repub­li­cans’ ques­tions were merely dis­trac­tions from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Rus­sia probe.

Comey ap­peared for the in­ter­view af­ter un­suc­cess­fully fight­ing a sub­poena in court. It was the first time he an­swered law­mak­ers’ ques­tions since an ex­plo­sive June 2017 hear­ing in which he as­serted that Trump fired him to in­ter­fere with his FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion of al­leged Rus­sia ties to the Trump cam­paign.

Two GOP-led com­mit­tees are wrap­ping up a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into de­ci­sions made at the Jus­tice Depart­ment dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Repub­li­cans ar­gue that depart­ment of­fi­cials were bi­ased against Trump as they started the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and cleared Clin­ton in a sep­a­rate probe into her email use. Comey was in charge of both in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Democrats have said the in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form com­mit­tees are merely a way to dis­tract from and un­der­mine the spe­cial coun­sel’s Rus­sia probe. Mueller took over the depart­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion when he was ap­pointed in May 2017.

Un­der a deal struck with the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Comey was to be free to speak about Fri­day’s ques­tion­ing af­ter­ward and a tran­script was to be re­leased. Comey had ar­gued that Repub­li­cans would se­lec­tively leak de­tails and mis­char­ac­ter­ize the pro­ceed­ings.

Af­ter the ques­tion­ing was un­der­way, some Repub­li­cans sig­nalled they were un­happy with Comey’s level of co-op­er­a­tion. Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Dar­rell Issa said Comey had two lawyers in the room, his per­sonal lawyer and a lawyer from the Jus­tice Depart­ment. He said the depart­ment lawyer re­peat­edly in­structed Comey not to an­swer “a great many ques­tions that are clearly items at the core of our in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Issa sug­gested the com­mit­tee might bring Comey back be­cause he wasn’t an­swer­ing ques­tions.

Democrats dis­agreed that Comey wasn’t be­ing co-oper­a­tive.

“He an­swered the ques­tions he had to an­swer,” said Rep. Raja Kr­ish­namoor­thi of Illi­nois. But he added that he was left with the im­pres­sion that “we got nowhere to­day.”

Florida Rep. Ted Deutsch said the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity “wishes to only ask ques­tions still about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails, all to dis­tract from the big news to­day, which is what’s hap­pen­ing in court.”

Mueller was to re­veal more de­tails about his Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion in court on Fri­day as he faced dead­lines in the cases of Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, Paul Manafort, and for­mer per­sonal lawyer Michael Co­hen.

New York Rep. Jer­rold Nadler, the top Demo­crat on the Ju­di­ciary panel, said as he walked into the Comey in­ter­view that he will end the in­ves­ti­ga­tion when Democrats take the House ma­jor­ity in Jan­uary.

“This is a waste of time to start with,” Nadler said. “The en­tire pur­pose of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion is to cast as­per­sions on the real in­ves­ti­ga­tion ... there is no ev­i­dence what­so­ever of bias at the FBI or any of this other non­sense.”

Mean­while, pros­e­cu­tors said ahead of his sen­tenc­ing next week that Co­hen de­serves a sub­stan­tial prison sen­tence de­spite his co-op­er­a­tion with the spe­cial coun­sel.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Co­hen’s case said that even though he co-op­er­ated in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hush money pay­ments made to two women who said they had sex with Trump, he nonethe­less de­serves to spend time in prison.

In meet­ings with Mueller’s team, Co­hen “pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about his own con­tacts with Rus­sian in­ter­ests dur­ing the cam­paign and dis­cus­sions with oth­ers in the course of mak­ing those con­tacts,” the court doc­u­ments said.

Co­hen pro­vided pros­e­cu­tors with a “de­tailed ac­count” of his in­volve­ment, along with the in­volve­ment of oth­ers, in ef­forts dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to com­plete a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow, the doc­u­ments said. He also pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about at­tempts by Rus­sian na­tion­als to reach Trump’s cam­paign, they said.

ALEX WONG/GETTY IM­AGES

For­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey ar­rives ahead of tes­ti­fy­ing to the House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form com­mit­tees in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., on Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.