Former FBI director James Comey to testify in open session before Senate Intelligence Committee

Hearing will be scheduled after the May 29 Memorial Day holiday

Tom Batchelor
Friday 19 May 2017 23:56 BST
Relations between Mr Comey and the President have deteriorated in recent days
Relations between Mr Comey and the President have deteriorated in recent days (AP)

Fired FBI director James Comey has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an “open session” to answer questions on the investigation into links between the Trump team and Russia.

Mr Comey was sacked by Donald Trump last week. The surprise move triggered accusations the President was attempting to obstruct an ongoing FBI probe into interference by the Kremlin in last November's US election.

On Wednesday, the committee called on Mr Comey to testify, asking the sacked bureau boss to appear in both open and closed sessions.

Two days later, with Mr Trump on board Air Force One heading to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip as President, confirmation came that Mr Comey had taken up their offer to appear in a public hearing.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Richard Burr, said he hoped the former FBI chief's testimony would "clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media".

“The committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former director on his role in the development of the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections," he said.

The hearing will be scheduled after the 29 May Memorial Day holiday, the committee's statement said.

Mr Comey's willingness to testify in an open session will likely alarm the White House, which has been struggling to contain the fallout from the sacking of one of America's highest profile officials.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee calls on Comey to publicly testify

Relations between Mr Comey and the President have continued to deteriorate in recent days. Last week Mr Trump warned the ousted FBI director on Twitter against leaking information to the media.

"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press," he tweeted on 12 May.

The latest twist in the Comey saga came on Friday when The New York Times (NYT) published a report of a meeting between Mr Trump and Russian officials in the Oval Office.

"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Mr Trump said, according to a document detailing the Russian visit. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."

The President also reiterated that he was not personally under investigation.

The document, which was read to the NYT by sources in the White House, is the latest evidence that Mr Trump fired Mr Comey at least in part because of an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.

He had previously admitted that the investigation was part of the reasoning for the decision.

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