A government watchdog group revealed Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey was advised by senior FBI officials to seek Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s advice prior to testifying before “any congressional committee” about President Donald Trump’s campaign and its alleged collusion with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to new emails obtained by Judicial Watch.
Comey was also advised to seek Mueller’s counsel on the circumstances surrounding his firing by Trump before providing testimony to Congress, the Department of Justice emails obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. It is the first time evidence reveals there was coordination between the Special Counsel and Comey in the long drawn out controversial Mueller investigation.
“These documents show that James Comey, who was fired by the president, nevertheless had easy, friendly access to the FBI as he prepped his infamous anti-Trump testimony to the Senate,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, in a press release. “This collusion led to Comey’s attacking President Trump and misusing FBI records as part of a vendetta against the president.”
“The emails, along with news reports, also reveal that Comey met with Mueller prior to his June 8, 2017, testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee…”
In one of the email chains dated May 19, 2017, shortly after Comey was fired by Trump, his then Chief of Staff James Rybicki sends an email to then FBI Deputy Director McCabe, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich, former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker, among others and says, “Please see a DRAFT response to Director Comey (below). I will hold pending further direction….”
The email states:
In response to your emails below we have consulted with executive management here, including the General Counsel, and recommend the following
- That your counsel convey any acceptance or declinations to invitations to testify directly to the Committees.
- That your counsel consult with Special Counsel Mueller to determine the timing of any such testimony and, [Emphasis added]
- The Office of General Counsel stands ready to discuss with you in consultation with the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel, institutional privileges or prerogatives that may be presented by any such testimony.
The emails, along with news reports, also reveal that Comey met with Mueller prior to his June 8, 2017, testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee and, according to Judicial Watch, that testimony was coordinated with Mueller.
During Comey’s June 8, 2017 testimony before the Senate he revealed that he had leaked information from memos he created on his meetings with Trump while he was still director of the FBI. He gave those memos to his friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman, who then leaked them to The New York Times. Comey admitted that he leaked the memos with the intention that they be leaked to the news organization with the hope that it would lead to a special counsel investigation of the President.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself, for a variety of reasons,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “But I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
The former embattled FBI director has fought back against accusations that he leaked classified memos but lawmakers contend that Comey did leak property of the FBI in violation of Bureau protocol. They also contend that some of the memos contained classified information and issued a criminal referral on Comey last month citing the leaks and the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the nature of the investigation, as first reported.
JUDICIAL WATCH TIMELINE PER PRESS RELEASE:
- May 17, 2017 — Comey was notified to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight and Government AffairsCommittee.
- On May 18 and 19, 2017, an email chain with the subject line “Future testimony” shows former Comey FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Assistant Director Gregory Brower, Comey and others discussing Comey’s upcoming testimony
- May 18 at 6:30 pm, Comey sent an email to Rybicki confirming that he had accepted the invitation to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
- In that same email chain Comey noted that he declined the invitations from the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee.
In an email dated May 19, 2017, which was apparently to Rybicki, Comey says, “I just got off a call with Senators Burr and Warner. They would like to have a hearing next Wednesday at which I testify, first in open session and then in closed, if necessary. I asked them not to announce it until I check with FBI/DOJ to see if you want to discuss anything before they do that. I told them I had asked for guidance on any institutional prerogatives and for the opportunity to review any documents FBI has produced that relate to me. I told them I would communicate with them by the end of the day to either ask them to hold announcing the Wednesday hearing or go ahead.