Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants former FBI Director James Comey to return to Capitol Hill to testify before her panel — and says Democrats are willing to back a subpoena for Comey if he refuses.
Feinstein’s demand came in a letter Thursday to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in which she makes recommendations for how the panel should proceed in its investigation into Comey’s firing.
On Wednesday, Grassley announced the committee was launching a wide-ranging probe into the circumstances of the firing, along with attempts to influence FBI investigations during the Obama administration.
In her letter Thursday, Feinstein says the Judiciary panel needs to schedule a hearing before the August recess with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who appeared earlier this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss his role in Comey’s firing and other issues.
“The committee needs to have an opportunity to question the attorney general about the department’s policies and priorities,” Feinstein wrote. “There also remain unanswered questions about the attorney general’s prior testimony before the committee and his role in firing Director Comey.”
Secondly, she writes, Comey must testify before the Judiciary panel “regarding serious concerns that have been raised about political interference with FBI investigations and possible obstruction of justice.”
Comey previously declined an invitation from the Judiciary Committee to testify on the circumstances of his firing and his conversations with President Donald Trump, instead appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in one of the most closely-watched congressional hearings in years.
“I am disappointed that Mr. Comey declined our initial request and hope he will reconsider,” Feinstein writes. “If not, the committee should take steps to compel his attendance. Be assured my Democratic colleagues are supportive of issuing a subpoena should it become necessary.”
Her letter also recommends that the committee speak with individuals with whom Comey discussed his private interactions with Trump, including acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other senior FBI officials.
And she writes that the committee needs to “address the refusal of multiple government witnesses to answer questions posed by senators in the Intelligence and Appropriations Committees.” She specifically cites Sessions’ testimony from earlier this week, when he declined to answer questions about his conversations with Trump.
“These witnesses did not assert a privilege or specify a concrete legal basis upon which they relied upon for their non-answers,” Feinstein writes.