FBI advised Comey to coordinate with Mueller before Senate testimony

by WorldTribune Staff, May 10, 2018

New emails from the Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained by a government watchdog group show that former FBI Director James Comey was advised by FBI officials to consult with special counsel Robert Mueller prior to testifying before any congressional committees regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and his firing as FBI director.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey

The emails obtained by Judicial Watch are the first to reveal that high-ranking FBI officials helped Comey coordinate his June 8, 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee with Mueller.

Several news outlets had reported that Comey’s opening statement and subsequent testimony before the committee were coordinated with Mueller.

Judicial Watch obtained the emails from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the DOJ on Jan. 31.

“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. “This collusion led to Comey’s attacking President Trump and misusing FBI records as part of a vendetta against the president.”

In a press release on May 10, Judicial Watch revealed an email chain dated May 18 and 19, 2017, with the subject line “Future testimony” that shows then-FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki, then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Assistant Director Gregory Brower, Comey and others discussing Comey’s upcoming testimony.

In this chain, on May 18 at 6:30 pm, Comey wrote to Rybicki to confirm that he had accepted an invitation to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) but declined invitations from the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee.

The email chain includes:

  • An email from a redacted sender, apparently Comey, to Rybicki dated May 19 at 11:49 a.m. reading: Jim, 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. Many thanks. Jim
  • On May 19 at 2:10 p.m., Rybicki writes back: Director: We just met to discuss the requests outlined in the two emails below. Before responding the General Counsel has asked me to confirm that you have discussed with the attorneys representing you, and that you are comfortable discussing these issues with us rather than communicating through your counsel.
  • On May 19 at 3:02 p.m., a redacted sender, likely Comey, responds to Rybicki: “Yes and yes.”
  • Also in this chain, on May 19 at 4:11 p.m., Rybicki writes to McCabe, FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich, former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker, Brower, Elizabeth Beers and other redacted names: Please see a DRAFT response to Director Comey (below). I will hold pending further direction….Director: In response to your emails below we have consulted with executive management here, including the General Counsel, and recommend the following: 1. That your counsel convey any acceptance or declinations to invitations to testify directly to the Committees. 2. That your counsel consult with Special Counsel Mueller to determine the timing of any such testimony and, 3. 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.

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