Ex-FBI chief Comey agrees to testify for second day before House panels

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former FBI Director James Comey testified about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails behind closed doors on Friday before House of Representatives lawmakers and said he believed the session could have been public.

He also said he had agreed to testify again on Dec. 17.

“When you read the transcript you’ll see that we’re talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we need to do this at all,” Comey told reporters after testifying before the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees.

“We could have done this in open setting,” he said.

The former FBI director dropped his opposition to a closed-door hearing on Dec. 2 after members of the Judiciary Committee panel agreed to provide a full transcript within 24 hours and said he would be permitted to make it public.

The panels are investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was in office and about the handling of the probe into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 U.S. election.

The Republican-led inquiry has been lambasted by Democrats as a partisan effort to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election. Russia has denied any interference.

Comey told reporters after the hearing he had total confidence that the use of electronic surveillance as part of investigation was handled in a “thoughtful, responsible way” by the Department of Justice and the FBI.

“I think the notion that FISA was abused here is nonsense,” Comey said, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that governs use of electronic surveillance by federal law enforcement.

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