20, May 2017
Ousted FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify in an “open session” of the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer questions on the investigation into possible links between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia.
The committee said in a statement late on Friday that it planned to schedule the hearing for some time after Memorial Day. “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,” said Senator Richard Burr, the committee chairman.
“I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” the North Carolina Republican added. Trump fired Comey in a surprise move last week, triggering accusations that the president obstructed justice by seeking to thwart an ongoing FBI probe about alleged Russian interference in last November’s election. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating the alleged meddling by Moscow and any possible links between Russian officials and the Trump team.
Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s vice chairman, said he hoped Comey’s testimony would “shed light on issues critical” to the investigation. “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,” the Virginia Democrat said.
The US Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the probe, potentially limiting the Congress’s ability to look into the matter separately. There is concern that the counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, would object to Comey speaking in public about an ongoing probe.
Trump has condemned the investigation as the “greatest witch hunt” in the US history. Last week, the president warned Comey against leaking information to the media. “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,” he tweeted on May 12.
The latest twist in the controversy came on Friday when The New York Times reported that Trump allegedly told senior Russian officials visiting the White House that Comey was a “nut job” and that his termination relieved “great pressure.”