Former FBI Director James Comey is planning to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee as soon as next week about his conversations with President Donald Trump about the Russia investigation, a Comey friend confirmed to POLITICO.
As of Wednesday morning, Comey’s testimony in front of the committee had not yet been scheduled, though there are talks that the appearance could happen next week, according to a second source familiar with the matter.
Trump abruptly fired Comey in May, as the FBI was apparently ramping up its investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. Comey publicly announced the investigation in March.
The White House gave varying explanations for the firing, and Trump himself hinted that the Russia probe was a factor. “I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” Trump told NBC News the week of the firing. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
The controversy over Comey’s firing escalated after it was revealed that Comey drafted a memorandum detailing how Trump had allegedly pressured him to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey declined to do so.
Trump further stoked the scandal by allegedly telling the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an Oval Office visit that Comey was “a real nut job" and that pressure was taken off of him related to the Russia investigation by firing Comey.
After the firing, the deputy attorney general appointed Robert Mueller on May 17 as special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee had announced on May 19 that Comey had agreed to testify in an open session.
The Senate testimony would mark Comey’s first public comments since his firing. The news of the timing of Comey’s testimony was first reported by CNN.
Comey’s appearance would come as Mueller’s investigation and staff is starting to take shape.
Mueller’s team is expected to include Andrew Weissmann, a longtime DOJ and FBI veteran who helped spearhead the government’s prosecutions involving Enron and multiple Mafia crime families, according to two sources who are closely tracking the unfolding investigation. The sources said Weissmann will be on detail to Mueller’s special counsel team from his current position as chief of DOJ’s criminal division fraud section.
Weissmann and Mueller have a long history together at the FBI. He was the bureau’s general counsel from 2011 to 2013 and also the director’s special counsel in 2005.
Weissmann oversaw the investigations and prosecutions of more than 30 people on the Enron Task Force, including CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Working in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the eastern district of New York, Weissmann tried more than 25 cases involving members of the Genovese, Colombo and Gambino crime families.
A DOJ spokesman declined comment on the potential personnel move.
Ali Watkins and Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.