James Comey, the FBI Director President Donald Trump fired in what may have been an attempt to stop an investigation into White House officials, is testifying before Congress this week — speaking on the matter publicly for the first time since he left his position.
Comey accepted an invitation to testify in a public session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, June 8, at 10 am Eastern time. The testimony will be followed by a private closed-door committee session with Comey the same day.
The mounting Russia-related scandals have put pressure on congressional Republicans to investigate possible ties between Trump’s campaign and the White House — and any attempts the president may have made to curb federal investigations into his team. Comey’s testimony is a major step in those probes, and will undoubtedly be a historic media moment.
"The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media," Intelligence Chair Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said in a statement in late May.
The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Comey a letter asking him to testify in front of both open and closed sessions of the committee in May. Another letter from the Senate committee, which is co-chaired by Burr and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe for all “notes or memorandum” Comey may have left about conversations with the White House over the FBI’s Russia investigation.
JUST IN: Senate Intel Committee asks James Comey to testify in open and closed hearings, requests FBI hand over Comey's notes and memos pic.twitter.com/YAVpaAx8K4— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 17, 2017
These requests follow the New York Times’s revelation on Tuesday night that Comey left notes detailing that Trump asked him to close down the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Vox’s Matt Yglesias wrote Tuesday about the signs that the Republican wall around Trump and Russia was cracking. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is openly comparing Trump’s ongoing scandals to Watergate. House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has requested all records of Comey’s interactions with the president. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and House Speaker Paul Ryan have supported Chaffetz’s decision.
That’s a long way from backing Democrats’ call for an independent bipartisan select committee — or any chatter about impeachment. But Comey’s testimony will likely be the first opportunity to publicly confirm many of the anonymous reports circulating in major news outlets.