Former FBI Director James Comey has reached an agreement with Congress to testify again in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to an article on The Hill this morning.
Comey and his lawyers had been fighting a subpoena from the committee to appear in front of a closed-door convocation of the group during the lame duck congressional session before Democrats take over the leadership in the next Congress.
Comey feared that the Republicans on the committee would use selective leaks from his non-public statements to advance their own agenda of undermining the basis of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration’s alleged collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice by attempting to delegitimize the FBI’s initial motivations in launching the probe.
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His lawyers argued that the Republicans would try to “peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russia investigations through selective leaks” if Comey was to testify in a closed forum.
The FBI Director who Trump fired last year insisted on testifying in an open meeting to prevent his words from being misused or twisted, but his lawyer, David Kelly, told The Hill that Comey had agreed to speak to the committee this coming Friday under the conditions that he was free to publicly discuss his testimony and that a transcript of the session be released within 24 hours of the hearing.
Comey announced the deal in a Twitter post that acknowledged that he didn’t get exactly what he wanted but was unwilling to risk a contempt of Congress citation to avoid answering questions from the Republicans on the committee in their last-ditch efforts to paint the inquiries into President Trump and his administration as somehow tainted by investigatory misconduct.
Grateful for a fair hearing from judge. Hard to protect my rights without being in contempt, which I don’t believe in. So will sit in the dark, but Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours. This is the closest I can get to public testimony.
— James Comey (@Comey) December 2, 2018
As part of the agreement to testify, Comey has dropped a lawsuit he had filed to fight the subpoena that was issued two weeks ago after he declined to appear in front of the Judiciary Committee on a voluntary basis.
Exactly how the Republicans on the committee intend to score political points against an investigation that has already garnered indictments or guilty pleas from 33 people and three companies is still to be determined, but, with their control over the levers of the power in the House of Representatives set to slip away in January, this is their last chance to govern the committee’s agenda and try to protect Trump in any way, so they’re doing everything they can while they still can.
Tune in on Friday to see how it all turns out.
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Original reporting by Megan Keller at The Hill.