Comey Challenges House Subpoena, Citing ‘Corrosive Narrative’ by Lawmakers

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, January 10, 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Former FBI Director James Comey is challenging a subpoena from the House requesting his testimony on the FBI’s conduct before the 2016 election, citing a “corrosive narrative” from lawmakers.

Comey filed a motion Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C. protesting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee that asked him to appear for a closed hearing Monday.

His lawyers accuse Congress of “using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks.”

The House Judiciary and Oversight committees “have conducted an investigation in a manner that exceeds a proper legislative purpose insofar as members of the committees have established a practice of selectively leaking witnesses’ testimony in order to support a false political narrative, while subjecting witnesses to a variety of abuse,” the court filing reads.

Congressional Republicans are probing the FBI and Justice Department’s management leading up to the presidential election out of concern that the law enforcement agencies are biased against then-candidate Donald Trump and favored Hillary Clinton in how they dealt with the Clinton and Russia investigations.

On Thanksgiving Day, Comey wrote on Twitter that he objected to a closed hearing but would testify to Congress in a public setting.

“I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions,” he said. “But I will resist a ‘closed door’ thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”

“Today my legal team filed court papers to try to get transparency from House Republicans. Let the American people watch,” the former FBI chief said in a Thursday tweet.

By selectively leaking bits and pieces of his testimony, Republicans intend “to mislead the public and to undermine public confidence in the FBI and the DOJ during a time when President Trump and members of his administration and campaign team are reported to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other law enforcement authorities,” Comey’s lawyers alleged.

“Witnesses who appear before the joint committees are powerless to counter or contextualize the distortions of their testimony that are leaked to the press.”

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte also subpoenaed former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a closed hearing on December 4, the day after the committee wants Comey to appear.