FBI Director James Comey reportedly refused to tell House members in a private meeting whether the agency was investigating Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
Democratic lawmakers left the briefing furious, saying they’d lost confidence in Comey and had become convinced he’s unfit to lead the agency, and sources revealed more information about the closed-door meeting, reported The Guardian.
Sources told the newspaper that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were frustrated by Comey’s refusal to answer “basic questions” about his standards for revealing the status of investigations.
Lawmakers grilled Comey “over and over again” about the belief by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election to benefit Donald Trump.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Comey, who announced a new phase in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails less than two weeks before the election, whether he was applying a double standard to Trump.
“Do you believe that standard has been met with reference to the possible investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible connections to the Russian government? And if not, why not?” Nadler said, according to one of the sources.
Comey dodged the question, according to sources, which angered the lawmakers.
As they left the meeting, some of the Democratic lawmakers said they had lost confidence in Comey and called on him to step down.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and CIA director John Brennan and NSA director Mike Rogers joined Comey and the lawmakers in the 90-minute meeting.
The sources said none of the other officials had contentious interactions with the lawmakers.
Trump has not said whether he would retain Comey, whose term runs until 2023, after his inauguration.
The Justice Department’s inspector general announced a new investigation Thursday into Comey and the FBI’s actions before the election.
A former spy who compiled a dossier detailing Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which includes both business interests and blackmail, told Mother Jones reporter David Corn in October that he had shared his findings with FBI contacts weeks earlier.
He admitted he shared the findings without permission of the American firm that hired him to dig up dirt on Trump, but he believed the information was both “sufficiently serious” and “extraordinary.”
The spy-turned-private investigator told Corn that the FBI was shocked and horrified by the allegations, and he provided updates as he continued his investigation.
But he reluctantly spoke to Corn, which he said was unusual for someone in his line of work, because he wasn’t sure whether the FBI was continuing to investigate his claims.