Former FBI Director James Comey testified on Friday in a closed session before members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) spoke to the press and reported that Comey’s lawyer’s, one of whom was from the DOJ, repeatedly told him not to answer questions about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the FISA Court application, and the Trump dossier, to which Comey responded with “gleeful” acceptance. Issa said “one of the disappointments of this deposition so far has been the amount of times in which the FBI believes that Congress doesn’t have a right to know.”
There was one bright spot in the otherwise disappointing session. According to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Comey was asked what he knew about Rod Rosenstein’s alleged comments that he wear a wire to record his discussions with President Trump for the purpose of invoking the 25th amendment. Meadows said: “Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s public statements that he did not really talk seriously about taping the president and invoking the 25th Amendment is not consistent with the number of other sworn testimony or transcribed interviews that we’ve had.”
Comey was questioned about why he drafted a letter exonerating Hillary Clinton months prior to her FBI interview, the anti-Trump bias of most FBI personnel and why the FBI granted immunity to several close Clinton advisors. “In October, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said he was “shocked” and “dumbfounded” when he learned that FBI had granted immunity to former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills during its investigation into the use of Clinton’s server, according to a court transcript of his remarks.”
CNN reported that Comey was “exasperated” after his day on Capital Hill. Comey said “after a full day of questioning, two things are clear to me: One, we could have done this in (an) open setting. And two: When you read the transcript, you will see that we are talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sakes. So I’m not sure we need to do this at all, but I’m trying to respect the institution and to answer questions in a respectful way.”
Upon receiving his subpoena to appear for Friday’s testimony, Comey took legal action to change it to a public hearing because he could decline to answer questions that would require citing classified information. A letter from Comey’s lawyer, David Kelley, to the Committee chairmen, said, “Mr. Comey respectfully declines your request for a private interview. He would, however, welcome the opportunity to testify at a public hearing.”
In the end, he declined to answer most questions anyway.
Issa also told reporters “the Department of Justice is going to have to agree to allow him to come back and answer a great many questions that currently he is not answering,” a request that Comey has agreed to.
The problem is, however, that time is running out for House Republicans to continue this investigation. Incoming Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) vows to end this probe in January when the Democrats take control of the House. At least that’s what he announced on his train ride to Washington last month, when commentator Mollie Hemingway was sitting several seats away.
Fox News reports that a transcript of the interview will be issued “perhaps as early as Saturday.” If any of Comey’s responses had been consequential, we likely would have heard about it from Republican committee members on Friday night. And, unfortunately, it appears that Comey’s testimony may be the last for the Republican led House committees for a while.