James Comey on the hot seat: 16 Russia probe questions he must answer

Dozens of explosive pieces of evidence undercutting the entire Russia case have emerged since the disgraced FBI director last testified in public.

Updated: September 29, 2020 - 4:49pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

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Fired FBI Director James Comey — who long defended the now-discredited Russia collusion probe — is slated to sit in the witness chair Wednesday to field questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The atmosphere in the committee room will be vastly more harsh than during his last public appearance.

Gone is the moralistic argument that Comey was answering to a "higher loyalty" that justified the bureau's actions.

In its place is the condemnations of the Justice Department inspector general and the FISA Court, which have declared Comey's team misled the courts, Congress and country.

And Senate interrogators will be armed with the recent guilty plea of ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted he falsified a document in the case. They'll also have fresh, bountiful evidence showing just how flawed the FBI's investigation of President Trump was, just how deceptive the bureau's submissions to the FISA court and Congress were, and just how political frontline agents and intelligence analysts perceived the probe to be.

Some FBI employees under Comey, in fact, were so concerned by the degree of misconduct they witnessed in the Russia investigation that they feared being investigated and sued, and bought liability insurance to protect themselves.  

Here are 16 questions the disgraced ex-FBI director will likely be asked:

1. You testified in 2017 that the Steele dossier was salacious and unverified and yet you signed FISA warrants marked verified that relied on deeply flawed evidence from the dossier. Why did you do that?

2. When did you first learn that the Steele dossier was funded by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and why weren't the judges informed?

3. Evidence in the Clinesmith prosecution shows the FBI knew as early as August 2016 that Carter Page was a CIA asset and not a Russian agent of influence. When did you first learn that information, and why wasn't the FISA court informed of this critical information?

4. If you knew then what you know today, would you have signed any of the FISA warrants or advocated for a special counsel?

5. Newly declassified evidence shows the FBI knew that the primary sub-source for Steele had been previously suspected of being a Russian spy and had disowned key facts attributed to him in the dossier when interviewed by your agents. When did you learn that information, and why wasn't the FISA court advised?

6. If you didn't know about the primary subsource, who did? Who should have known?  Where was the breakdown? Who do we hold accountable for this travesty of justice? Why shouldn't we hold you accountable? 

7. The FBI appeared to have been warned almost immediately that Steele's dossier contained Russian disinformation. Should the FBI have relied on it for any part of the FISA application, and why was this information kept from the courts, Congress and country for years?

8. How involved was President Obama in directing FBI investigations such as the Russia probe, and what statements, actions or recommendations did he make in connection with the probes into Trump, Page and Michael Flynn?

9. How involved was Vice President Biden in directing or advising FBI investigations such as the Russia probe, and what statements, actions or recommendations did he make in connection with the probes into Trump, Page and Flynn? Did the vice president suggest using the Logan Act in any way to pursue Gen. Flynn?

10. What, if any, evidence did you know about suggesting that Russia may have been trying to hurt Trump's election chances or help Hillary Clinton? Do you still support the intelligence community assessment that Russia's intent was solely to help Trump win?

11. Information contained in the DOJ inspector general's report suggests that another confidential human source in the Russia probe, Stefan Halper, may have been previously dropped as a source before the Russia case. What did you know about that, and should he have been used in this case?

12. In The Washington Post, you accused professor Josef Mifsud of being a "Russian agent." What evidence did you have to support that claim? And if Mifsud posed such a danger, why was he never arrested by the FBI even when he had set foot in America in early 2017?

13. How would you rate the performance of ex-agent Peter Strzok and ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page in the Russia case?

14. How would you grade ex-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's performance in the Russia probe?

15. Did you approve of the use of DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr as a back channel to Steele after the informant had been terminated, and what do you think about that decision in hindsight?

16. The FBI agent who supervised the Michael Flynn investigation testified he recommended closing it down twice, once in November 2016 and again in January 2017 because of a lack of evidence of wrongdoing but it was kept open by your management team anyways. Why wasn't the probe closed down like the lead agent suggested? What do you think of that agent's claim the probe suffered from a bias to "get Trump?"

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