Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify in an open session before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr and Committee Vice Chairman Senator Mark Warner. The hearing, which will focus on Comey’s role in the investigation into the alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russian operatives, will be scheduled sometime after the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
“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,” Senator Burr commented in a joint statement with Senator Warner, “and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media.”
This comes on the heels of Comey’s recent unexpected dismissal as FBI director by President Trump, which raised a lot of eyebrows in the government and the media, and the ethics of Trump’s decision has been widely questioned by the public. In the 24 hours following the firing, there were close to 2.7 million mentions about Comey on Twitter, and since then there have only been more questions as new twists in the situation are being reported almost daily.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) May 19, 2017
The initial reports were that Trump’s decision came as a result of a recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and that it was because of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s scandal regarding the homebrew email server that she used while she was secretary of state under Barack Obama. However, in an interview two days later with NBC’s Lester Holt, President Trump stated that he was already planning to fire Comey regardless of any recommendation due to the Russia investigation.
Following that admission, an internal FBI memo surfaced written by Comey after a February meeting with Trump, in which he documented a request from President Trump. According to Comey’s memo, the president had made his feelings known on the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn regarding his own ties to Russia.
In his memo, Comey allegedly documented an instance after a meeting he had with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump reportedly asked Pence and Sessions to leave the room and then approached Comey with his request.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey quoted Trump in his memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
As more troubling details come out about Comey’s termination as FBI director, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is looking forward to clearing up some of the speculation and finding some real answers, according to Senator Warner in the joint statement from Committee Chairs.
“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. Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story. Moreover, the American people deserve to hear it.”
Comey’s commitment to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is not unexpected, despite what many believed to be a thinly veiled threat about taped conversations from President Trump via Twitter. When the Committee invited him to speak in a closed-door session, Comey declined, but he made it very clear that he wants to testify. His one condition was that he would only speak before the public in an open hearing.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Following additional calls from several members of Congress for Comey to testify, Comey reiterated his willingness, but until now there was no official commitment. With the appointment of Robert Mueller by the U.S. Justice Department as special counsel to lead the Russian investigation, the unfolding drama is showing no signs of slowing down. Certainly, millions of people will be eagerly awaiting the upcoming public hearing and the testimony from the former FBI director.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]