Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was visibly angry with former FBI Director James Comey, rebuking him for his inability to answer several questions Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Lee, a longtime advocate for reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court program, said Comey broke "good faith" promises he made to the senator to ensure that the FISA court was not abused before he was confirmed as FBI director.
"I'm very disappointed to see that those promises now, to me, seem very insincere," Lee said. "Now, Mr. Comey, with all due respect, you don't seem to know anything about an investigation that you ran."
Comey testified Wednesday as part of the Judiciary Committee's review of the FBI's Russia probe. Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the other Republicans on the committee wanted Comey to answer questions related to newly declassified information alleging that Hillary Clinton approved a campaign plan to invent a scandal against her rival presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him and his campaign to the Russian government. The Intelligence Community learned of this allegation from Russian intelligence analysis and has not verified it.
In a letter sent to Graham, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe wrote, "The [Intelligence Community] does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication."
The letter said that on Sept. 7, 2016, "U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding 'U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.'"
Comey was asked about this "investigative referral" and in his response said he didn't remember receiving any such notice.
"You don't remember getting an investigatory lead from the intelligence community?" Graham asked . "You don't remember getting that?"
"That doesn't ring any bells with me," Comey replied.
"Well, that's a pretty stunning thing that it didn't ring a bell, but it did come to you," Graham said.
The FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, dubbed "Crossfire Hurricane," has been highly controversial. During the investigation, the FBI obtained a FISA court warrant to investigate Carter Page, an associate of the Trump campaign. To obtain the warrant, the FBI agents conducting the investigation used a dossier sourced by someone who was under suspicion by the FBI of being a possible Russian agent, a dossier containing Russian disinformation. Critics of the FBI say the agents knew the information was unreliable, obtained the warrant anyway, and violated Page's civil liberties in the process.
Comey, as director of the FBI, was ultimately responsible for overseeing Crossfire Hurricane until he was fired by President Donald Trump in 2017.
Lee, during his time to ask questions, criticized Comey for suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin may yet have unknown ties to Trump.
Yet confronted once more by Graham, Comey again denied knowing anything about information suggesting Hillary Clinton approved a plan to tie Trump to Russia.
"How can you as a private citizen now come to us, and in your capacity as former FBI director show up and then speculate freely regarding any alleged ties between President Putin and President Trump ... when you don't seem to know anything about this investigation that you ran?" Lee asked.
(H/T: Washington Examiner)