House Republicans were left frustrated after former FBI Director James Comey’s lawyers prevented him from answering a number of key questions during Friday’s closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, according to reports.
The committees are expected to release a transcript of the deposition as early as this weekend.
Even while the questioning was still underway, GOP lawmakers were telling reporters that “they weren’t satisfied and might try to bring him back another day,” the AP reported. Following his testimony, Comey said he would return to answer more questions on December 17.
On Twitter, President Trump decried what he called “total bias and corruption at the highest levels of previous Administration.”
It is being reported that Leakin' James Comey was told by Department of Justice attorneys not to answer the most important questions. Total bias and corruption at the highest levels of previous Administration. Force him to answer the questions under oath!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
Democrats said the Republicans’ questions were merely “distractions” from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Comey agreed to appear for the interview only after unsuccessfully fighting a subpoena in court. He had preferred to answer the questions in a public hearing.
“He wanted a public spectacle and he really wanted five minutes back and forth with members taking shots,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) explained on Fox News during a break from the questioning, which was expected to go until 4:15 p.m. ET.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Fox News that some of the testimony they’ve received has been at odds with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s denials that he once suggested wearing a wire against Trump.
“Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s public statements that he did not really talk seriously about taping the president and invoking the 25th Amendment is not consistent with the number of other sworn testimony or transcribed interviews that we’ve had,” he said.
The Republican lawmakers didn’t want to get into specifics about the testimony out of respect for the process.
According to Fox News, Republicans wanted to discuss the favorable treatment afforded by the FBI to Clinton advisers.
In October, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said he was “shocked” and “dumbfounded” when he learned that FBI had granted immunity to former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills during its investigation into the use of Clinton’s server, according to a court transcript of his remarks.
Comey had two attorneys with him, Issa said, one of whom was a DOJ attorney who advised him “time and time again” not to answer key questions about their investigation into FBI malfeasance in 2016. He told Fox News that Comey followed the lawyer’s advice with “gleeful acceptance.”
When asked what types of questions the fired FBI director was evading, Issa said: “In broad-brush strokes, everything related to Hillary’s investigation, everything related to how they got on to it and what their process was, everything related to the FISA warrants and the fake dossier — broadly those are the areas in which, time and time and time again, he’s not answering.”
He said that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rep. John Ratcliff (R-TX) asked some very pertinent questions regarding those issues — including the anti-Trump text messages of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. He added that when the transcript comes out, people will be “displeased but maybe a little surprised” by Comey’s answers.
Issa went on to say that Comey’s answers were not what “you would think a forthright individual would give.”
When asked about Comey’s famous leak to his friend Daniel Richman, Issa said, “Comey speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He doesn’t want to answer a lot of questions — even when he answers, I would call them evasive.”
Following his closed-door testimony, Comey told reporters he would be back to answer questions on December 17, adding that most of the Republicans’ questions were about Hillary Clinton’s emails, “which will bore you.” He also disputed the notion that his lawyers prevented him from answering key questions, telling Fox News’ Catherine Herridge that the transcript will show otherwise.
In answer to a question about the FISA warrant, Comey said that the process was followed and notion that the it was abused was “nonsense.”
"We could have done this in an opening setting."-Former FBI Director James @Comey after his daylong closed door questioning by House Judiciary Cmte. Says he'll return December 17 for 2nd interview. https://t.co/2UEzSEbTyU pic.twitter.com/ZLwd3r8Gd0
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) December 7, 2018
Out of necessity, House Republicans are winding down their investigation into the FBI’s election-year shenanigans, although Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Fox News that Comey would be returning to answer questions in two weeks.
The investigation will be scuttled as soon as Democrats take back control of the House.
Incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Friday he will end the GOP inquiry, calling it “a waste of time.”