Both Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch received the summons last Wednesday from GOP lawmakers who are investigating the FBI’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans have ordered that both testify in closed-door depositions next week as part of the inquiry, which will likely end after Democrats take control of the committee in January when the new Congress is sworn in.
Comey has said he’d be willing to speak to lawmakers but would push that such testimony be made in public.
“Let the American people watch,” Comey wrote in a tweet on Thursday evening.
Comey’s attorneys argued in the request Thursday that Republicans had “abused their powers with selective leaks” of information to further their political agenda, saying that, by doing so, lawmakers had “unfairly prejudiced” prior witnesses.
“The obvious way to eliminate selective and inaccurate leaks and to curb the potential for abusive conduct by the Joint Committees is to make these proceedings open to the public,” Comey’s lawyers wrote. “The clear pattern of leaks and other comments by members of the Joint Committees make plain that the request for secrecy in these interviews is not about secrecy, but a mechanism to permit selective and biased exposure of testimonial snippets.”
The committees are currently investigating two facets of the FBI’s role in the last election: The agency’s inquiries into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server and any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to Reuters.
Some Republicans immediately lambasted Comey’s effort.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter that it appeared “Comey believes he deserves special treatment, as he is the only witness refusing to either appear voluntarily or comply with a subpoena.”
Comey was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017 and has since become an outspoken critic of the president. During a press tour for his memoir published earlier this year, Comey called Trump “morally unfit” to be president and said he believed he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
The publication and subsequent comments prompted outrage and vehement denials from Trump.
The New York Times reported last week that the president wanted to order the Department of Justice to investigate Comey and Clinton but that he had to be talked down from the decision by the White House counsel, who worried such a move would create a potentially impeachment-worthy political fallout.