House Republicans successfully turned a Democrat-led request for former FBI director James B. Comey’s communication with President Donald Trump into a probe of the Obama administration.
The initial draft of the bill, sponsored by Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, would request documents related to Comey’s firing from the Department of Justice.
As the House Committee on the Judiciary considered the bill Wednesday, several Republicans offered an amendment to expand the request to include records of Comey’s interactions with sources, former President Barack Obama’s White House, and former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, the Washington Post reports.
The panel debated whether rehashing the events of 2016, particularly the DoJ’s decision not to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for transmitting classified information on an unsecured server.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the amendment sponsors, criticized Comey for referring to the Clinton investigation as a “matter” last summer.
“Last time I checked, [Comey] wasn’t director of the Federal Bureau of Matters,” said Jordan. “We’ve got all these investigations about (Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s influence in our election. How about the Obama administration’s influence on our election?”
“In my district, my constituents say, ‘Hey, what’s going on with investigation of the crimes of the previous administration?'” Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, one of the sponsors of the amendment, said.
“When I hear talk that this contains right-wing conspiracies — well, I’ll tell you, my constituents think what’s going on in the other bill are left-wing conspiracy theories,” Biggs said.
The committee approved the amended bill on a party-line vote of 15-13, for consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Jayapal and other Democrats on the panel seemed shocked that their bill seeking information on Trump’s behavior in firing Comey was coopted by the Republicans.
“This is the most astonishing moment I’ve ever experienced in the Judiciary Committee,” Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen said.
“To take a question about the firing of James B. Comey and turn it into a question about Hillary Clinton? The chairman has left the room. Justice has left this room. Common sense has left this room. A lot of stuff has left this room, and maybe never entered it.”
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