GOP lawmakers repeated their calls for former FBI director James Comey to return to Capitol Hill Monday, as the White House fielded questions about his firing.
The White House spokeswoman accused Comey of giving “false testimony” to Congress and suggested that the Justice Department should look into the question of whether he perjured himself.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the comments in response to questions pertaining to claims made by former top strategist Steve Bannon in a 60 Minutes interview that ran on Sunday. During the interview Bannon said that he had warned President Trump that the firing of FBI Director James Comey would be the “biggest mistake in modern political history.” Sanders said she was unaware of any such conversations.
“Since the director’s firing, we’ve learned new information about his conduct that only provided further justification for that firing,” she said, listing the troubling conduct as “providing false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists, [and] he went outside the chain of command and politicized an investigation into a presidential candidate.”
Sanders went on to say that the president “is very pleased with the new director and has full confidence in him to fully restore and lead the FBI.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week that he has “not detected a whiff of interference” by President Trump or the White House in regards to the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Sanders also told Fox News’ John Roberts, “I think that’s something probably for DOJ to decide” on the question or whether Comey actually perjured himself or merely misled Congress.
Sanders, who defended the Comey firing in response to criticism from former chief strategist Steve Bannon, did not specify what testimony she was citing. But the comments came after Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News’ Catherine Herridge last week that he wants to bring back Comey to Capitol Hill, over concerns about his statements on the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton email case.
“This doesn’t add up, and I smell a rat here,” Graham, R-S.C., said.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, added to those calls on Monday, saying Comey “absolutely” should be brought back to testify.
“The American people rightfully have enormous concerns about the manner in which the Clinton email investigation was conducted,” he told Fox News in a written statement. “Recent reports suggesting the
Both Graham and Ratcliffe were responding to new allegations that Comey drafted an “exoneration statement” for Clinton weeks before interviewing her.
That raised concerns for Ratcliffe, because the congressman seemed to get a different explanation from Comey during a September 2016 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
At the time, Ratcliffe asked Comey whether he made the decision not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton before or after she was interviewed by the FBI in early July.
“After,” Comey said.
But interview transcripts obtained by Graham and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, revealed claims of an “exoneration statement.”
Senator Graham told Fox News that there are two issues he would like to discuss with Comey.
The first is whether Comey had “predetermined the result” of the email investigation before the Clinton interview. The second concerns Comey’s claim that he jumped into the fray because of the tarmac meeting. Graham said he has reason to believe the “real reason may have been some email between the DNC and the Justice Department about the scope of the Clinton investigation.”
Graham told Fox News last week that this theory would be “completely different” than what the fired FBI director publicly testified.
The senator said that while Comey cited the tarmac meeting in his testimony, he has apparently hinted at other things in different settings. Namely, “that the real reason he got involved was because he thought that there was an email the Russians had between the DNC and Justice Department trying to wire the Clinton investigation.”