Comey to testify on role in FBI's Russia inquiry

Then-FBI Director James Comey being sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017.
Then-FBI Director James Comey being sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Former FBI director James Comey will testify publicly about his role in the investigation into Russian meddling in the election and any possible connections to the campaign of President Donald Trump, the Senate Intelligence Committee has announced.

He will testify after the Memorial Day holiday, May 29, though a date has not yet been set.

Mr Comey's handling of the investigation, including his several conversations with Mr Trump since his election, has taken on added importance since his dismissal and subsequent reports that the President had asked him to shut down part of the inquiry, and then later called him a "nut job" in meetings with Russian officials.

"I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media," said Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the committee.

Democrat Senator Mark Warner said he expected Mr Comey to "shed light on issues critical to this committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election".

The announcement that Mr Comey would testify followed disclosure by the Justice Department that Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein had talked with Attorney-General Jeff Sessions about replacing Mr Comey last winter, before either man had been confirmed for his post in the Trump administration.

Mr Rosenstein revealed that detail in two briefings to Congress members last week, according to remarks released on Friday by the Justice Department. His testimony provides fuller details about Trump's sacking of the top law enforcement official probing whether his campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

During his meetings with lawmakers, Mr Rosenstein said that his conversations with Mr Sessions revealed his long-held belief that Mr Comey should be replaced, based on his public statements related to the investigation of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, beginning in July last year.

"Among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the FBI, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks," he said, echoing the sentiments he had outlined in a May 9 memo that the White House released publicly that day and cited as the basis for the firing.

Mr Trump acknowledged, in an NBC News interview, that he had decided to fire Mr Comey before reading Mr Rosenstein's memo.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Comey to testify on role in FBI's Russia inquiry'. Print Edition | Subscribe