Former FBI Director James Comey complained Friday that members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees spent hours quizzing him on a “whole lotta” Hillary Clinton emails that were part of an FBI investigation concluded two years ago.
“When you read the transcript, you will see that we are talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sakes, so I’m not sure we need to do this at all,” he told reporters after his six-hour closed-door session facing committee members. “But I’m trying to respect the institution and to answer questions in a respectful way.”
Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017, also sharply criticized the questions in a tweet. He said the process “wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything to attack the institutions of justice investigating the president.” He declared that the strategy “will make no difference because facts are stubborn things.”
Comey was asked by members of the two committees why he reopened an investigation shortly before the 2016 presidential election into emails sent by Clinton on a private server when she was secretary of state. He said he didn’t want to hide any information that could affect a presidency, CNN reported.
Comey in the past has also addressed issues in testimony on Capitol Hill relating to possible obstruction of justice by the Trump administration into an investigation of Russian interference in the presidential campaign.
Comey was subpoenaed last month to appear before members of Congress before Democrats take over as the House majority. He fought the subpoena in court but eventually agreed to appear only if the questioning was made public. A transcript of the session is scheduled to be released Saturday.
Comey emphasized Friday that the session could have been public right from the start, given the non-classified nature of his responses.
Democratic members of the committees had a similar view of the process.
“I was left with the impression that, basically, this is a big wild goose chase,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), The Atlantic reported. “It reinforced my view that the Clinton probe has fully run its course.”
Some Republicans complained that Justice Department lawyers stopped Comey from responding to certain questions. Comey told reporters that he will not discuss details of the ongoing investigation into possible Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Comey also told reporters that he liked William Barr, the president’s pick to be the nation’s next attorney general.
“I like and respect Bill Barr. I know he’s an institutionalist who cares deeply about the integrity of the Justice Department,” Comey said.
Comey will return to the House Dec. 17 for more questioning.