James Comey rejects invitation to testify before Senate committee

The appearance would have been Mr Comey's first testimony as a private citizen

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The Independent US

Former FBI director James Comey will not testify before the Senate committee investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Senator Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC that Mr Comey had rejected his invitation to testify in a closed hearing next week. He added that they hoped to hear from the former FBI director in the near future. 

Mr Warner and committee chairman Richard Burr invited Mr Comey to testify shortly after he was unexpectedly fired by President Donald Trump.

Many suspected that Mr Comey would be able to disclose more information as a private citizen than as director of the FBI. In the last months of his tenure, Mr Comey had announced his agency was conducting an investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, but was unable to provide much more detail.

Mr Warner had said that he hoped Mr Comey would “take advantage of the opportunity” to testify as a private citizen.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday morning that Mr Comey had "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations" before speaking to the press.

 

Mr Comey has yet to make a public statement on his firing, aside from a letter to his coworkers at the FBI. The letter, sent to select FBI staff, friends and agents, was published by numerous media outlets.

“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” Mr Comey wrote. “I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either.”

Associates of Mr Comey, however, have been outspoken on the issue, casting doubt on the official White House narrative of his firing. Several associates told The New York Times that President Donald Trump had asked Mr Comey to swear his loyalty to him before he was fired. Mr Comey refused.

Still others reported that Mr Comey had requested more resources for the investigation into investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election just days before his firing.

Many in Washington have expressed concern that the Russia investigation would not be able to continue unhampered following Mr Comey’s dismissal. Mr Burr, who is leading the Senate investigation into the issue, said he was “troubled by the timing” of the firing.

“I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee,” Mr Burr said in a statement.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who publicly supported Mr Comey’s firing, will visit Capitol Hill next week to brief the Senate on the surprising dismissal.

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