WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The outgoing chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is planning to issue subpoenas compelling former FBI Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to be deposed about their decision-making ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a House Democratic aide told Reuters on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
The plans by Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte were immediately criticized by ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler, who is expected to take over as chairman of the panel next year.
“These subpoenas are coming out of the blue, with very little time left on the calendar,” Nadler said in a statement, adding that Comey and Lynch had indicated “months ago” they would be willing to answer questions voluntarily.
The House aide told Reuters that Goodlatte is planning to call Comey in for closed-door questioning on Nov. 29 and Lynch on Dec. 5.
A spokeswoman for Goodlatte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Goodlatte and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy have both been running a probe into whether the FBI botched of investigations leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Their probe looks at into the FBI’s handling of Russia’s role in U.S. politics and Hillary Clinton’s emails when she was secretary of state.
It has been criticized by Democrats, who say Republicans are merely trying to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly denied colluding and called Mueller’s inquiry a “witch hunt.”
David Kelley, a lawyer for Comey, said his client has not been contacted by Republicans on the committee since Oct. 1, when he sent the lawmakers a letter offering to testify only it were a public hearing.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Dan Grebler and Grant McCool