Comey Challenges House GOP Subpoena in Federal Court

Former FBI director James Comey speaks to George Washington University students during a stop on his book tour Monday, April 30, 2018, in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Former FBI Director James Comey asked a Washington D.C., federal court on Thursday to block a subpoena from House Republicans intent on forcing him to testify in a closed-door deposition next week.

Comey filed a 15-page motion to quash the subpoena on Thursday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, saying lawmakers could use the upcoming testimony to the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee “to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative.”

“As set forth below, the subpoena, which calls for a closed, non-public deposition of Mr. Comey, exceeds a proper legislative purpose, is issued in violation of House rules and unduly prejudices and harasses the witness,” the motion states.

The House Judiciary Committee served Comey a subpoena on Nov. 21, requiring him to testify before lawmakers on Dec. 3. According to the motion, counsel for the Judiciary Committee previously told him the committees wanted to ask him questions about investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Comey told the committees he would not testify privately, but that he would be willing to appear for a public hearing to answer lawmakers’ questions.

Comey accuses the congressional panels that seek to interview him of selectively leaking information from “many -if not all – of the witnesses who have come before them” in an effort to cast the FBI as unfairly favoring Clinton while scorning President Donald Trump.

“To be clear, the FBI and DOJ are appropriately subject to congressional oversight and the subject matters of the joint committees’ investigation are appropriate subjects of a proper investigation,” the motion states. “Mr. Comey should not be forced, however, to testify under the circumstances and conditions imposed by the joint committees, which conditions – particularly given the committee’s history of selective leaking – lack any legitimate congressional purpose and would instead enable precisely the sort of harassment the case law condemns.”

Comey also says the request to hold his interview behind closed doors violates House rules, which allow for private testimony only in specific circumstances – none of which apply here.

“The clear pattern of leaks and other comments by members of the joint committees make plain that the request for secrecy in these interviews is not about secrecy, but a mechanism to permit selective and biased exposure of testimonial snippets that appear to support a political narrative while at the same time withholding from view any testimony that undermines that narrative,” the motion states.

A spokeswoman for the House Judiciary Committee did not immediately return a request for comment on the motion.

But in two tweets on Thursday evening, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, questioned Comey’s motives for filing the motion.

“The truth IS best served with transparency,” Goodlatte tweeted. “What is Director Comey trying to hide from the American people with his baseless motion to quash?”

Comey is represented by Vincent Cohen Jr. with the Washington law firm Dechert. Cohen declined to comment on the filing.

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