Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET
Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an open session.
“The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement released Friday evening.
“I hope that former Director Comey’s testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President. I also expect that Director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” said Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. “Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story. Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it.”
Comey’s highly anticipated testimony, which will be slated after the Memorial Day congressional recess, comes after he was fired by Trump May 9 amid a mounting investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump campaign associates and that country.
Comey, however, turned down an invitation to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee as well, which left chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “extremely disappointed,” the lawmakers said in a statement Friday evening.
“There is no reason he can’t testify before both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, particularly given that the Judiciary Committee is the FBI’s primary oversight committee with broad jurisdiction over federal law enforcement, FISA and the nomination of the next FBI director,” the two senators also said. “Given his commitment to the people and the mission of the FBI, we expected him to be responsive to the senators responsible for vetting its next proposed leader. He should reconsider his decision.”
While the White House initially pointed to a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining Comey’s mismanagement of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as the impetus for his termination, Trump later admitted that the Russia investigation — which he has called a “hoax” — played a role.
Earlier on Friday, the New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials the day after he fired Comey that the former FBI director was a “nut job” and he had let him go to take off the “great pressure” around the mounting investigation.
Earlier this week, NPR confirmed that Trump had asked Comey to scuttle the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, according to a memo of the account written by Comey. Trump has denied that ever happened.
On Wednesday, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to take over and continue the Justice Department investigation into Russian election interference and possible links with Trump campaign aides.
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