Former FBI Director James Comey, who testified behind closed doors today to the House Judiciary Committee, said afterward he had agreed to testify again on Dec. 17.
Comey, who had pressed unsuccessfully for a public hearing, told reporters Friday that “we could have done this in an open setting.”
As Reuters reports, the former FBI director dropped his opposition to a closed-door hearing on Dec. 2 after members of the House panel agreed to provide a full transcript within 24 hours and agreed he would be permitted to make it public.
“When you read the transcript you’ll see that we’re talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we need to do this at all,” Comey told reporters.
“But I’m trying to respect the institution and to answer questions in a respectful way. You’ll see I did that in the transcript.”
Comey added that “the FBI for understandable reasons doesn’t want me talk about of an investigation that’s still ongoing” into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
But in his usual manner, he did say that President Trump’s attacks on the FBI and Justice Department are “deeply troubling.”
However, just minutes after Comey spoke to reporters, Trump responded with another angry tweet, raging “Leakin’ James Comey was told by Department of Justice attorneys not to answer the most important questions,” adding that this showed “total bias and corruption at the highest levels of previous Administration.”
Trump ended pointedly: “Force him to answer the questions under oath!”
It is being reported that Leakin' James Comey was told by Department of Justice attorneys not to answer the most important questions. Total bias and corruption at the highest levels of previous Administration. Force him to answer the questions under oath!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
Bloomberg reports that Republicans demanded that Comey testify as they continue to question his 2016 recommendation that Democrat Clinton not be prosecuted for using a private email server and for his handling of an unverified dossier of allegations against Trump.
With Republicans losing control of House committee subpoena power in January, the Comey questioning is part of a dash to wrap up their long-running examination of whether FBI and Justice Department investigative priorities were tainted by anti-Trump political bias during that year’s presidential campaign.
Democrats have decried the GOP-led probe as unwarranted, and they’ve criticized House Republicans for prematurely shutting down a more bipartisan inquiry into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, whether anyone around Trump conspired in the interference and whether the president sought to obstruct justice.
Lawmakers from the Judiciary panel, as well as the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also plan to interview former Attorney General Loretta Lynch before Democrats take over the House majority in January.