House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy scorched James Comey in a blistering opening statement at a high-profile congressional hearing on Tuesday, declaring “we can’t survive with a justice system we don’t trust.”
Gowdy kicked off the hearing featuring testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his review of the Hillary Clinton email case. The top DOJ watchdog is on Capitol Hill for the second day in a row to discuss the explosive report.
But Gowdy launched into Tuesday's session -- a joint hearing held by the House oversight and judiciary panels -- with a fiery condemnation of the former FBI director and certain agents in the bureau he led.
Referring to IG findings that Comey defied his superiors in his handling of the Clinton email case, Gowdy accused the ex-director of essentially operating by his own rules.
"We see Jim Comey and Jim Comey alone deciding which DOJ policies to follow and which to ignore," he said.
Gowdy accused Comey of watering down his initial statement on the investigation's findings and making other decisions on his own. While Comey has suggested he acted unilaterally out of concern for the Justice Department's handling of the case, Gowdy questioned why he didn't seek a special counsel -- as he indirectly did regarding concerns about the Trump administration.
“Instead, he appointed himself FBI director, attorney general, special counsel, lead investigator and the general arbiter of what is good and right in the world according to him,” Gowdy said.
Gowdy said that Horowitz’s report, which was released last Thursday, should “conjure anger, disappointment and sadness in anyone who reads it.”
He also said that, in the wake of the IG report, there were FBI agents and attorneys who decided to "prejudge" the outcome of the Clinton case.
“These exact same FBI agents and attorney prejudged the outcome of the Russia investigation before it even began,” he added.
He said “prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it ends, and prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it begins” is the “textbook definition of bias.”
Horowitz also testified on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In that hearing, he confirmed that his office was investigating Comey for potentially mishandling classified information, regarding the sharing of memos detailing conversations with President Trump.