Updated at 7:29 p.m.
Former FBI Director James Comey asked a Washington, D.C., federal court on Thursday to block Republican lawmakers’ demand that he testify in a closed-door hearing.
Delivering on a promise Comey previewed on Twitter, his lawyers filed a motion late Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to quash a subpoena issued Wednesday by outgoing House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia.
Goodlatte’s subpoena demanded Comey testify in a closed-door deposition on Dec. 3. It was issued as part of House Republicans’ efforts to probe federal law enforcement’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“Mr. Comey asks this Court’s intervention not to avoid giving testimony but to prevent the Joint Committee from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks,” the filing said.
The filing from Comey’s attorneys says the former FBI director “welcomes the opportunity to testify publicly about the Clinton and Russian investigations as he has done previously numerous times,” as Comey had previously tweeted.
The bid to quash the effort, filed by Dechert partners Vincent Cohen and David Kelley, said the subpoena exceeded “a proper legislative purpose” in violation of congressional rules, and “unduly prejudices and harasses the witness.” Comey’s attorneys have also asked the court to stay the deposition while the effort to quash the subpoena is litigated.
While the move marks an escalation in the ongoing drama between Republican lawmakers and the former FBI director, a court fight could end up fizzling out. Republicans will lose the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in January, which will effectively block them from forcing Comey to testify.
Comey’s attorney previewed the fight last week: “While the authority for Congressional subpoenas is broad, it does not cover the right to misuse closed hearings as a political stunt to promote political as opposed to legislative agendas,” Kelley said.
“Mr. Comey embraces and welcomes a hearing open to the public, but the subpoena issued yesterday represents an abuse of process, a divergence from House rules and its presumption of transparency. Accordingly, Mr. Comey will resist in Court this abuse of process,” he added.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, appointed by President Donald Trump last year, was assigned the Comey case.
Read Comey’s motion below: