Former FBI Director James Comey will testify in an open hearing before Congress, senators from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced Friday — giving Comey his first chance to publicly recount the events that led up to his sudden and unceremonious firing by President Donald Trump last week.
Several news reports have emerged in the wake of Comey’s firing, alleging that Trump demanded “loyalty” from the former FBI director, asked him to “let” the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn go, and told Russian officials that Comey was “crazy” and a “nut job.”
“I faced great pressure because of Russia,” Trump told Russian officials who visited him in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey, according to a Friday New York Times report. “That’s taken off.”
On Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI head Robert Mueller to lead the federal investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election as special counsel.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who head the Intelligence Committee, had previously invited Comey to speak in a closed session as part of the committee’s own investigation into Russia’s interference. Comey, who headed the FBI’s now-criminal investigation into the same events, declined to do so.
Now, he’ll have the opportunity to talk not just about the Russia investigation but also about why Trump fired him.
“I hope that former Director Comey’s testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President,” Warner said in the statement announcing the open hearing. “I also expect Director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
The hearing will be scheduled after Memorial Day.