Former FBI Director James Comey is asking a federal judge to dismiss a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee requesting closed-door testimony, citing a history of leaks creating a “corrosive narrative.”
Lawyers for Comey filed the motion on Thursday in an attempt to keep him from having to appear before House Republicans in a closed-door meeting on Monday.
“Mr. Comey asks this court’s intervention 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 Russian investigations through selective leaks,” the court documents read.
The subpoena, issued last week, calls on Comey to testify as part of the congressional inquiry into allegations of anti-Trump bias that led to shutting down the probe of Hillary Clinton's private email server and the opening of the investigation into purported ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The former FBI chief, who was fired by President Trump in May 2017, alleged in his motion that he previously declined a closed-door meeting in October and instead offered a public hearing but the committee never addressed the matter again.
“In a letter dated October 1, 2018, Mr. Comey notified the Joint Committees that he would decline their invitation to sit for the proposed private interview but that he welcomed the opportunity to provide sworn testimony at a public hearing regarding the subject matters of the Joint Committees’ Investigation.”
According to court documents, the committee received the letter but “made no further response” until the latest subpoena.
Comey’s legal team argues that the request for a closed-door testimony “exceeds a proper legislative purpose, is issued in violation of House rules, and unduly prejudices and harasses the witness.”
They also cite a history of leaks from similar meetings that serve to create a “corrosive narrative.”
“The broader purpose of these tweets and leaks appears to be to mislead the public and to undermine public confidence in the FBI and DOJ during a time when President Trump and members of his administration an campaign team are reported to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other Law enforcement authorities.”
Court documents reference presidential tweets and leaks of testimony given by Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr as evidence.
A report from Politico suggested a possible recusal in the case after it was transferred from Judge Timothy Kelly to Judge Trevor McFadden -- both Trump appointees.