House Repub­li­cans pull Comey in for in­ter­view ‘one last time’

For­mer FBI chief ques­tioned after failed bid to over­turn sub­poena

The Scotsman - - World News - By MARY CLARE JALONICK

House Repub­li­cans in­ter­viewed James Comey be­hind closed doors yes­ter­day, haul­ing the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor to Capi­tol Hill one fi­nal time be­fore they cede power to Democrats in Jan­uary.

Mr Comey was ap­pear­ing for the in­ter­view after un­suc­cess­fully fight­ing a sub­poena in court.

It is the first time he has an­swered politi­cians’ ques­tions since an ex­plo­sive June 2016 hear­ing in which he as­serted that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fired him to in­ter­fere with his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sia’s ties to the Trump cam­paign.

The in­ter­view comes as GOP law­mak­ers are wrap­ping up a year­long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into de­ci­sions made at the Jus­tice De­part­ment dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Repub­li­cans ar­gue de­part­ment of­fi­cials were bi­ased against Trump as they started the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his cam­paign’s ties with Rus­sia and cleared Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton in a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her email use. Mr Comey was in charge of both of those in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Democrats, who will also at­tend the in­ter­view, have said the GOP in­ves­ti­ga­tion is merely a way to dis­tract from and un­der­mine spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Rus­sia probe. Mr Mueller took over the de­part­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion when he was ap­pointed in May 2017.

Un­der a deal struck with the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Mr Comey will be free to speak about the ques­tion­ing af­ter­ward and a tran­script will be re­leased. He ar­gued Repub­li­cans would se­lec­tively leak de­tails from the in­ter­view. The in­ter­view was ex­pected to last much of the day. Walk­ing into the meet­ing, Mr Comey said he might an­swer ques­tions af­ter­ward. He also gave a wry an­swer when asked if he is “best friends” with Mr Mueller, as Trump has tweeted. “Note that I smiled,” Mr Comey said.

Over the last year, Repub­lead li­cans on the Ju­di­ciary and House Over­sight and Govern­ment Re­form pan­els have brought in a se­ries of of­fi­cials and said after the closed-door meet­ings there is ev­i­dence of bias. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s most pub­lic mo­ment was a ten­hour hear­ing in which for­mer FBI spe­cial agent Peter Str­zok de­fended anti-trump texts he sent to a col­league as he helped both in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Mr Str­zok de­fi­antly fought with an­gry Re­pub­li­can politi­cians in a rivet­ing hear­ing that fea­tured him read­ing aloud from his some­times-lewd texts, and Democrats and Repub­li­cans openly yelling at each other. 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 he is ex­pected to take over the panel in Jan­uary.

“This is a waste of time to start with,” Mr 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.”

Mr Comey, who has tes­ti­fied pub­licly on Capi­tol Hill about both the Clin­ton and Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tions, balked at the sub­poena be­cause he said com­mit­tees were prone to se­lec­tively re­veal in­for­ma­tion for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

James Comey, cen­tre, ar­rives on Capi­tol Hill for an in­ter­view

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