Comey reaches deal with GOP for closed door testimony

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Three days after filing a federal lawsuit in a bid to avoid closed door testimony before a pair of House committees, former FBI Director James Comey has agreed with House Republicans to testify later this week, with the two sides agreeing to have a full transcript of his remarks made public within 24 hours, as Comey said Sunday he will not be muzzled outside the secret session.

“Republicans agree I’m free to talk when done and transcript released in 24 hours,” Comey said in a post on Twitter Sunday morning. “This is the closest I can get to public testimony.”

“The legal precedents are very, very powerful,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) of the subpoena of the former FBI chief, as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in an interview on Fox news on Sunday morning that Republicans weren’t going to back down in their bid to get more answers from Comey about the Russia and Hillary Clinton email investigations.

“Mr. Comey will join us for a closed-door transcribed interview later this week,” Goodlatte said in a written statement. “We will release the transcript of his interview to the public as soon as possible after the interview, in the name of our combined desire for transparency.”

Goodlatte had offered this type of transcript solution on Friday, as a way to get around a legal showdown over the subpoena for Comey’s testimony, which even the former FBI Director indicated he was not pleased to make.

Comey was originally scheduled to testify Monday. Republicans say it will happen later this week.

Comey had refused for several months to set a date for closed door testimony, accusing Republicans of plotting to selectively leak his answers, with little recourse for him to counter their claims.

But with the transcript deal, Comey reluctantly agreed to appear as requested at 10 am on Monday – all out of the eye of television cameras.

“The Joint Committees’ Closed Interview Condition Enables Selective Leaks, Is Abusive to Witnesses, And Furthers No Legitimate Congressional Purpose,” lawyers for Comey originally argued in their motion to quash to Congressional subpoena.

A federal judge had heard arguments on Friday, and had ordered more legal filings on Sunday, with a ruling envisioned by Monday morning.

Comey could have decided not to show up for the closed door interview, but risked being held in Contempt of Congress, as one of the final actions of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch is scheduled for a private interview on Tuesday, as Republicans press for answers not only on how the Justice Department and FBI handled the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, but also questions about the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as Secretary of State.