Comey challenges House Judiciary subpoena for closed-door testimony

Geneva Stokes
December 3, 2018

Friday's hearing came about after Comey's lawyers this week asked the court to quash a November 21 congressional subpoena ordering him to appear before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for a closed-door deposition and stay the congressional proceedings.

Comey has objected to the closed-door deposition in order to prevent lawmakers from "using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks", Comey's attorneys said in their suit.

Comey said last week that he meant to contest the subpoena, but said that he'd be willing to answer questions at a public hearing.

"I don't get a chance to say this often, but I do think Jim Comey is right", Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House government oversight committee told CBS in an interview which aired on November 25. "What Jim Comey's intentions are, I don't know other than that it's pretty clear he doesn't want to come in and answer the detailed questions that we have".

"Try as he might, Mr. Comey may not condition his cooperation with a congressional investigation on the presence of television cameras", Hungar wrote. Attorneys for the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director told the court that the subpoena "exceeds a proper legislative goal, is issued in violation of House rules, and unduly prejudices and harasses the witness", according to the court documents (pdf).

No ruling was made Friday on the lawsuit and whether Comey should have to appear before the joint committee.

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The interview had been scheduled for Monday, but Comey's lawyers asked a judge Thursday to put off his appearance and also to spike the subpoena.

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"Don't do it in a dark corner and don't do it in a way where all you do is leak information", said Comey's attorney, David Kelley.

Pavlich said Comey's demand is "enraging", pointing out that regular civilians don't get to negotiate terms if they are subpoenaed by Congress. "But I will resist a "closed door" thing because I've seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion".

"It appears Mr. Comey believes he deserves special treatment, as he is the only witness refusing to either appear voluntarily or comply with a subpoena".

A Justice Department inspector general report issued earlier this year criticized Comey for his handling of the Clinton matter, but said he did not exhibit political bias.

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