Comey is willing to testify before lawmakers, but only in public.

Comey Is Willing to Testify Before Lawmakers—but Only in Public

Comey Is Willing to Testify Before Lawmakers—but Only in Public

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May 13 2017 10:49 AM

Comey Is Willing to Testify Before Lawmakers—but Only in Public

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James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill, May 3 in Washington.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

There was a bit of head-scratching in Washington Friday afternoon when senators revealed that ousted FBI Director James Comey had declined an invitation to speak before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday. But the New York Times hears word that it wasn’t testifying that Comey objected to, but rather that he wants his testimony to be open to the public. That could be a way for Comey to protect himself and make sure what he says is accurately reflected, considering it seems pretty obvious any testimony from a closed hearing would be quickly leaked to the press.

Others in Congress want to hold their own hearings into the Comey firing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for example, said the Judiciary Committee needs to hold hearings. “President Trump and the White House have presented an ever-changing narrative on the rationale for the firing of FBI Director Comey,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This triggers a need for the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings and get to the bottom of this.” Feinstein had already joined forces with the committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to call for a briefing on the Russia investigation.

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Meanwhile, the Trump administration is moving forward with the search for a new FBI chief. At least four candidates will be vying to be Comey’s successor on Saturday. New York state judge Michael Garcia; acting FBI Director Andrew* McCabe; Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn; and the former head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Alice Fisher, will be interviewed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein. More candidates are expected to join the pool in the coming days.

Correction on May 14 at 12:30 p.m.: This post incorrectly identified the acting FBI Director as James McCabe. His name is Andrew McCabe.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.