WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate intelligence committee announced Wednesday it has asked ousted FBI Director James Comey to appear before the committee next week.
It is the first time Comey has been asked to appear before Congress as a private citizen since he was fired by President Trump on Tuesday.
Rebecca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Wednesday that Comey has been invited to meet in a closed session next Tuesday.
Comey had been slated to appear before the committee later this week to discuss ongoing threats to U.S. security. But the committee says acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe will stand in for Comey at Thursday’s hearing. Several high-ranking intelligence officials will join McCabe at that open hearing.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that the president had “lost confidence” in Comey and acted on the advice of the deputy attorney general and others when he decided to fire him on Tuesday.
More than a dozen Republican senators voiced concerns about Comey’s firing, in a series of statements suggesting that, on this issue, the GOP was not yet prepared to close ranks behind its president.
The unease expressed by key committee chairs and rank-and-file lawmakers alike on Wednesday came even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed White House talking points on the issue and tried to shut down talk of a special prosecutor to investigate Russia issues.
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell noted that Democrats themselves had repeatedly criticized Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email issues. And he said that with the FBI and Senate intelligence committee already investigating Russian interference, nothing further was needed.
The White House wants the FBI to complete its investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election. Sanders said Wednesday “we encourage them to complete investigation” so that it will be proven that “there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
Sanders said the White House does not think appointing a special prosecutor is necessary.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday threatened to use a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on a bill that would create an independent panel to investigate possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats that they’ll file a discharge petition if Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t call up the legislation “immediately upon our return next week.” The House is on recess this week.
A discharge petition allows a measure to be brought straight to the floor, bypassing consideration by committee. But successes are rare through this approach because a majority of House members must sign the petition.
Pelosi says the “fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership.”
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