Former FBI Director James Comey has blinked, agreeing to testify in a closed-door session over a series of controversies, including his department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton private email server investigation and the subsequent Russian collusion probe.
Comey announced that he had received a subpoena to testify on Thanksgiving but indicated he would “resist a ‘closed door’ thing” due to concerns of selective leaking on the part of lawmakers.
“Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see,” he challenged.
Comey then followed that up by filing a lawsuit in federal court late last week, again demanding a public forum.
“Mr. Comey asks this Court’s intervention not to avoid giving testimony but to prevent the (panel) from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks,” read the court filing.
Today my legal team filed court papers to try to get transparency from House Republicans. Let the American people watch. https://t.co/4kPFDzDPkN
— James Comey (@Comey) November 29, 2018
Comey caves, agrees to testify behind closed doors
It took all of a handful of days for Comey to cave and give up on his publicity stunt, agreeing to testify behind closed doors.
Comey and his legal team struck a deal with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) that would allow him to publish a transcript of the hearing within a 24-hour timeframe.
Comey, it was agreed, would also be allowed to talk about the testimony, which is likely a dream scenario from the prima donna former FBI head.
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
The reality is, Comey had little standing to make any demands of the Committee. As the Daily Mail reports, “Subpoenaed witnesses aren’t entitled to dictate the terms under which they deliver testimony on Capitol Hill.”
Comey is a grandstanding drama queen
Rep. Trey Gowdy, in an interview with “Face the Nation,” said he agrees with Comey that selective leaks are a bad thing, and added that videotaping the testimony would be a way to please everyone.
Closed door sessions are the only way to prevent a “professional wrestling-type carnival atmosphere” and prevent both the questioners and Comey from grandstanding.
.@TGowdySC says @Comey is right: Leaks are counterproductive, whether Jim Comey is doing it, whether F.B.I. is doing it or whether the congress is doing it. The remedy for leaks is not to have a public hearing where you are supposed to ask 17 months of work in five minutes. pic.twitter.com/ekebt68g95
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) November 25, 2018
Gowdy added that Comey had already engaged in a bit of grandstanding by even making the demands.
“Jim Comey, who by the way the FBI has never conducted an interview in public … Never. And he wasn’t interviewed by Mueller in public,” Gowdy said. “So the notion that Jim Comey all of a sudden loves public interviews, he hadn’t done it his entire career.”
Who is Comey to criticize selective leaking?
Gowdy has previously grilled Comey on the fact that the man who gave Hillary a path to being exonerated for her private email server had himself selectively and illegally leaked memos of conversations he had with President Trump.
Comey was revealed to have been under investigation at the time for doing so by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“What he says is a leak is what the rest of us call a felony,” Gowdy claimed at the time. “Leaking is disclosing a confidential conversation which is exactly what he did.”
So a man who has never been publicly interviewed wants a public hearing, and a man who leaks information when it’s convenient for him is concerned about leaks.
It’s a good thing the Republican members of the committee are handling this in a professional manner. Comey will do anything he can to undermine their legitimate concerns over the former FBI director’s actions over the last few years.