Kelley wrote that because Comey lacked a security clearance, there should be no concern about his having to discuss classified material. He wrote that he expected the committees would obtain approvals from the FBI for Comey to discuss events while he was in charge there.
“Because Mr. Comey has a variety of commitments in the coming months, please contact me as soon as possible to schedule a hearing date,” Kelley wrote.
Before Congress, to the Justice Department inspector general, in his book and in a bevy of media interviews, Comey already has addressed at length the bureau’s actions during the 2016 election, especially its handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Still, his appearing again before Congress would be a public spectacle, and it is possible, albeit unlikely, he might reveal new information on the Clinton probe or the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Spokesmen for the House Oversight and Judiciary committees did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. A Judiciary Committee aide said officials were prepared to subpoena Comey. Democrats called any additional testimony unnecessary but insisted Comey, as a former senior government official, should be entitled to have a public hearing if he desires.
Comey was the director of the FBI for the duration of the Clinton probe and the beginning of the Russia investigation. He was fired in May 2017 by President Trump, who has admitted the Russia case was on his mind when he decided to remove Comey from his post.
House Republicans want to interview Comey, as well as several other witnesses, as part of their own probe into the FBI and Justice Department’s conduct in the 2016 election. In addition to Comey, they are seeking testimony from former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos — who recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — and Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, the research firm behind a dossier detailing allegations of Trump’s business and personal ties to Russia.
Simpson’s attorney has already declined the invitation.
Democrats see the effort as one meant to force the Justice Department to reveal information on the ongoing special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. They have said Republicans cut them out of negotiating with potential witnesses.
Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.