Comey invited to speak at classified Senate Russia hearing
WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has invited former FBI Director James Comey to testify behind closed doors next week as the panel reviews a 2017 classified assessment that Russia had intervened in the presidential election.
The January 2017 review, done while President Barack Obama was still in office, found that Russia had interfered in the election months earlier to hurt the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton and to help Donald Trump. The Senate panel is dissecting the assessment as part of its investigation into the Russian meddling and whether it was in any way connected to Trump’s campaign.
The committee said Comey, who was fired by Trump a year ago, had been invited to testify at next Wednesday’s hearing but he has not accepted. Comey has recently been promoting his new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” in which he describes his interactions with Trump and characterizes the president as morally unfit for office.
Also testifying at the hearing will be former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.
The assessment released by the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that the Russian government interfered in the election and that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials to the website WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of the stolen emails.
Intelligence officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have repeatedly told the committee that they agree with the 2017 assessment. But a House Intelligence Committee report released last month disputed it on one point, saying that the agencies “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft” while assessing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions. Lawmakers on that committee said they agreed that Putin had wanted to hurt Clinton, but did not agree that meant he wanted to help Trump.
The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to issue several reports as part of its bipartisan investigation of the Russian meddling, including one focused solely on the assessment. It has already released an election security report and plans to issue future reports on whether Trump’s campaign colluded and other issues related to the interference.