Former FBI Director James Comey has filed a motion to quash a House subpoena ordering him to testify in private – arguing the conditions would lead to ‘selective leaks’ and is ‘abusive to witnesses.’
Comey, who has previously gotten grilled by both the House and Senate in public over his handling of the Clinton email scandal and his firing by President Donald Trump, has been ordered to appear December 3.
The GOP-run House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees are demanding he appear as part of their probe into decisions not to prosecute Clinton, as well as FBI conduct during the Russia investigation.
Lawyers for former FBI Director James Comey argue a subpoena to appear behind closed doors is ‘abusive to witnesses’ due to likely leaks
But Comey argues that a closed hearing would allow for ‘selective leaks, is abusive to witnesses, and furthers no legitimate congressional purpose,’ according to a court filing by his lawyers.
The filing cites what it calls the ‘abusive pattern of the selective leaking’ by the joint committee.
His legal team also argues that Trump’s criticisms, a combination of leaks and his tweets have created a ‘corrosive narrative’ that could harm his credibility.
The narrative, they claim, is that Clinton has ‘committed serious crimes but was given unwarranted leniency’, whereas the president has been ‘been saddled with unwarranted scrutiny, for purely partisan political reasons, by the same FBI and DOJ’.
It cites a Supreme Court case that grew out of the McCarthy hearings, and a ruling that if a subpoena is ‘issued solely for sake of exposure or intimidation, then it exceeds the legislative function of Congress.’
It was unclear how much weight Comey’s arguments would carry against Congress, which has compelled cabinet officials and corporate chiefs to appear at numerous hearings in the past, even if those on the other side of the dais considered it grandstanding.
Comey is resisting the subpoena, but says he will appear at a public hearing. If the matter gets delayed until January, Democrats will take over the committees
The lawyers cite committee leaks, including leaking of the testimony of former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired after a report cited him for leaking
Comey’s lawyers are fighting the subpoena
LETS DO THIS IN PRIVATE: Comey got a subpoena to appear before the GOP committees Dec. 3
Comey says he would be willing to appear in public to testify where the public and the media would be present and his views could get aired in full.
‘Today my legal team filed court papers to try to get transparency from House Republicans. Let the American people watch,’ Comey wrote.
President Trump has attempted to brand Comey a ‘leaker’ and a ‘liar’ for having kept copious private notes during his time at the FBI and then passing them on to a friend.
Bombshell stories of Trump demanding what Comey said was a pledge of ‘loyalty’ from Trump made it into the New York Times following a leak.
Comey also tweeted about the subpoena over the holiday weekend.
‘Happy Thanksgiving. Got a subpoena from House Republicans. I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions,’ he wrote on Thanksgiving. ‘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.’
Comey’s lawyers, Vincent Cohen, rett Kohlhofer, David Kelley, Jeffrey Brown, and Kaitlyn Walsh of Dechert LLP, also cited numerous leaks from closed testimony that ended up in the press. Among them are snippets from fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
Former attorney general Jeff Sessions fired McCabe following an IG report that faulted him for leaking.
Comey’s lawyers even quote Oversight panel chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who said: ‘I don’t get the chance to say this very often, but I do think Jim Comey is right. Leaks are counterproductive whether Jim Comey is doing it, whether the FBI is doing it, or whether Congress is doing it.’