Comey asks federal judge to stop congressional subpoena to compel his private testimony

Former FBI director James B. Comey asked a federal judge Thursday to halt a congressional subpoena demanding that he testify before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees next week in a private setting, court documents show.

In a filing on Thursday, Comey’s legal team wrote that he was fighting the committee’s bid to make him testify “not to avoid giving testimony but to prevent the Joint Committee from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russia investigations.”

Comey, along with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, were subpoenaed last week to testify privately before the committees as part of their investigation into the Hillary Clinton email probe and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Comey tweeted last week that he was willing to testify publicly, but would resist doing so behind closed doors.

Comey tweeted: “Happy Thanksgiving. Got a subpoena from House Republicans. I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions. But I will resist a “closed door” thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.”

In a tweet Thursday announcing the filing, he said “Let the American people watch.”

Comey is scheduled to testify on Dec. 3 and Lynch on Dec. 4.

A spokesperson for Lynch did not return a request for comment.

In Thursday’s filing, Comey’s team of attorneys argued that the committees were “leaking what suits them,” and and — “aided” by President Trump’s tweets — were trying to “promote the public narrative” that Clinton was given “unwarranted leniency” by “federal law enforcement while Trump was hit with unwarranted scrutiny.”

“The broader purpose of these leaks and tweets appears to be to mislead the public and undermine public confidence in the FBI and DOJ during a time when President Trump and members of his administration and campaign team are reported to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other law enforcement authorities,” his legal team wrote.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) tweeted: “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. He needs to appear before the Committees, as all other witnesses have done. Let the facts come to light.”

Comey’s attorneys cited several alleged examples of congressional leaks of closed-door hearings, and referenced Rep. Trey Gowdy’s recent appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” where he agreed that congressional leaks were a problem.

In that appearance, Gowdy (R-S.C.) had suggested videotaping the hearing to ease concerns about selective leaks.

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