Tue, Dec 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Comey agrees to testify in closed US House hearing

AP, WASHINGTON

Former FBI director James Comey has reached a deal to testify privately to the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, backing off his legal fight for an open hearing, his attorney said on Sunday.

Comey, whose lawyers went to court to challenge a US Congress subpoena, said in a tweet that it was “hard to protect my rights without being in contempt.”

As part of a deal with legislators, Comey has been told that he is free to speak about the questioning afterward and that a transcript would be released within 24 hours after he testifies, his attorney David Kelley said.

PUBLIC SETTING

Comey’s lawyers on Friday last week told a federal judge that the interview should be conducted in a public setting, because they fear statements from a closed-door hearing would be selectively leaked.

However, a lawyer for Congress argued that committees can conduct investigations however they please and Comey had no right to refuse a subpoena or demand a public hearing.

CLINTON

Comey is expected to be questioned about decisions made by the FBI in 2016, including a call not to recommend criminal charges against former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for her use of a private e-mail server and the FBI’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and then-US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.

Trump fired Comey in May last year.

The interview is scheduled for Friday and Comey would be “free to make any or all of that transcript public as he is free to share with the public any of the questions asked and testimony given during the interview,” Kelley said.

Because of the deal, Comey has agreed to withdraw his challenge to the subpoena. A judge had been set to rule on the matter yesterday.

Judiciary committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican, decried Comey’s use of “baseless litigation” and called it an “attempt to run out the clock on this Congress,” a reference to the few weeks left before Democrats take control of the House.

A transcript of the interview is to be released “as soon as possible after the interview, in the name of our combined desire for transparency,” Goodlatte said.

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