WASHINGTON – Former FBI director James Comey will meet behind closed doors with members of two House panels Friday as part of a politically controversial probe into federal law enforcement officials’ conduct during the investigations of President Trump’s alleged Russia ties and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The House probe, which has been driven exclusively by the GOP, is hurtling toward a close by the year’s end. That’s when control of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees will transfer to House Democrats, who are determined to curtail, or at least change the focus of, probes that they say were designed to undermine the law enforcement agencies whose work informed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Comey’s testimony is likely one of the last sessions that the joint panels will hear. The former FBI director initially insisted on giving public testimony, but agreed to the closed-door interview and to drop a legal challenge to a subpoena by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., under the condition that a transcript of the interview be released. Former attorney general Loretta Lynch, whom Goodlatte also subpoenaed last month, is expected to appear for a closed-door interview within the week.
The interviews with Comey and Lynch are not likely to satisfy several rank-and-file Republican members of the panels who are closely allied with President Donald Trump. They are far more concerned with seeing the joint probe once more interview Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Lawmakers like Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is set to become the Oversight Committee’s ranking Republican next year, are particularly interested in asking Rosenstein to explain comments that he reportedly made to colleagues suggesting that they tape conversations with Trump and possibly seek to remove him from office using procedures outlined in the 25th Amendment.
Jordan and Meadows also previously sought to impeach Rosenstein for not complying with Congress’s demands for information regarding the FBI and Justice Department’s probes of Trump and Clinton.