Ex-FBI director Comey files action to quash Republican congressional subpoena

The unusual filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia came after former FBI Director James Comey had previously told Republican lawmakers he would only agree to testify if the hearing was open to the public.
The unusual filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia came after former FBI Director James Comey had previously told Republican lawmakers he would only agree to testify if the hearing was open to the public.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Former FBI director James Comey asked a federal judge on Thursday (Nov 29) to quash a congressional subpoena from Republicans on the US House Judiciary Committee who are trying to compel him to testify behind closed doors about his decision-making ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The unusual filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia came after Mr Comey previously told Republican lawmakers he would agree to testify only if the hearing was open to the public.

"Mr Comey asks this court's intervention not to avoid giving testimony, but to prevent the joint committee from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative," the filing said.

The Nov 21 congressional subpoena ordering Mr Comey to appear for a closed-door deposition on Dec 3 was issued as part of an ongoing joint investigation by the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee.

The probe is looking at the FBI's decisions related to its investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and its investigation into whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia.

The Republican-led inquiry has been lambasted by Democrats as a partisan effort to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Mr Comey, who was fired by Mr Trump last year, is seen as an important witness into whether Mr Trump tried to obstruct the special counsel's investigation.