Comey agreed to submit to the interview before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in a deal settling his legal challenge of a subpoena in exchange for the public release of the full transcript of his testimony. The committee agreed to give the transcript to Comey within 24 hours.
Republican lawmakers were frustrated with the proceedings, complaining that Comey didn’t give satisfactory answers to their questions. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) office said in a statement that Comey answered “I don’t know” 166 times and “I don’t remember” 71 times.
Comey himself complained the proceedings were too focused on Clinton.
“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 session. “But I’m trying to respect the institution and to answer questions in a respectful way.”
House Republicans have argued that Comey was biased against Trump because the FBI cleared Clinton, the former secretary of state who was Trump’s rival in the 2016 election, in a probe into her use of a private email server, but pressed ahead with its investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the election.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) a member of the committee, said he had 14 pages of questions for Comey. He told CNN ahead of the hearing that he didn’t want Comey to testify in public because “we would be giving him a pass that I don’t think he deserves.”
Trump, who fired Comey in May 2017 after the FBI began investigating whether the Trump campaign had a role in Russian election interference, renewed his Twitter attacks on Comey Friday in anticipation of the testimony. The president also took a swipe at special counsel Robert Mueller, who now heads the investigation that has ensnared many of Trump’s closest allies.
“Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest,” Trump tweeted.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) told CNN prior to Comey’s deposition that the event was a “complete farce.”
“Going forward, I will be advocating for full, open public hearings on issues of this magnitude,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Comey is set for another interview with lawmakers on Dec. 17.
Read the full transcript below: