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EXECUTIVE SESSION COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, JOINT WITH THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, D.C. INTERVIEW OF: JAMES COMEY The interview in the above matter was held in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, commencing at 10:12 a.m. Members Present: Representatives Goodlatte, Issa, King, Gohmert, Jordan, Buck, Ratcliffe, Gaetz, Biggs, Nadler, Jackson Lee, Cohen, Deutch, Bass, Gowdy, Sanford , Meadows, Hurd, 2 Cummings, Cooper, Krishnamoorthi, Gomez, and Plaskett Chairman Goodlatte. This is a transcribed interview of James Comey. Chairman Gowdy and I requested this interview as part of a joint investigation by the House Committee on the Judi ciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the 2016 Presidential election. Would the witness please state his name and t he last position he held at the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the record? Mr. Comey. Certainly, Mr. Chairman. My name is James Brien Comey, Jr., and my last position was Director until May 9th of 2017. Chairman Goodlatte. I want to thank you f or appearing today. My name is Bob Goodlatte. I am chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and I will now ask everyone else who is here in the room, other than Mr. Comey's personal counsel, who we will get to in a moment, to introduce themselves for the rec ord. Mr. Gowdy. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina. Mr. Ratcliffe. John Ratcliffe, Texas. Mr. Meadows. Mark Meadows, North Carolina. Mr. Jordan. Jim Jordan, Ohio. Mr. Biggs. Andy Biggs, Arizona. Mr. Buck. Ken Buck, Colorado. 4 Mr. Don. Ethan Don, FBI. Ms. Bessee. Cecilia Bessee, FBI. Mr. Parmiter. Robert Parmiter, House Judiciary Committee staff. Mr. Baker. Arthur Baker, House Judiciary Committee staff. Mr. Somers. Zach Somers, House Judiciary Committee, majority. Mr. Nadler. Jerrold Nadler, New York. Mr. King. Steve King, Iowa, Four. Mr. Gomez. Jimmy Gomez, California. Mr. Cooper. Jim Cooper, Fifth District of Tennessee. Mr. Cohen. Steve Cohen, Memphis. Ms. Bass. Karen Bass, California. Mr. Cummings. Elijah Cummings, Maryland. Ms. Jackson Lee. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas. Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Illinois. Mr. Breitenbach. Ryan Breitenbach, House Judiciary Committee staff. Mr. Ventura. Chris Ventura, House Judiciary Committee staff. Ms. Husband. Shelley Husband, House Judiciary, majority. Mr. Castor. Steve Castor, Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Buddharaju. Anudeep Buddharaju, Oversight and Government Reform. 5 Ms. Doocy. Mary Doocy. Ms. Greene. Emily Greene. Mr. Gaetz. Matt Gaetz, Florida, House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Ritchie. Branden Ritchie, House Judiciary, majority. Mr. Dalton. Jason Dalton, FBI Congressional Affairs. Ms. Hariharan. Arya Hariharan, House Judiciary, minority Ms. Shen. Valerie Shen, House Ov ersight and Government Reform. Ms. Sachsman Grooms. Susanne Sachsman Grooms, House Oversight. Mr. Thadani. Akhil Thadani, House Judiciary, Democrat. Mr. Gohmert. Louie Gohmert. Mr. Sanford. Mark Sanford, House Judiciary. Mr. Apelbaum. Perry Apelbaum . Mr. Hiller. Aaron Hiller, House Judiciary, minority.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, how about do t hat for me. For the meantime, we'll just refer to that person as FBI Agent 1. Director Comey, after the Clinton interview on July 2nd, if memory serves, 2016, FBI Agent 1 wrote: "I'm done interviewing the President," dash, and then typed 302. Another FBI employee responded: You interviewed the President, question mark. And FBI Agent 1 wrote back: You know, HRC. A couple days later, you were before Congress, and you said, among other things, "The decision was made and the recommendation was made the way you would want it to be, by people who didn't give a hoot about politics." Now, Representative Ratcliffe is going to go into how that decision was made. My question to you is, had you known about these texts, would you have kept Peter Strzok and Lisa Page on the Espionage Act/mishandling of classified information case? Mr. Comey. In your question, Mr. Gowdy, you talked about texts that I'm not aware of that involve an agent other than Peter Strzok or FBI employee other than Peter Strzok and Lis a Page, so I can't answer that part of it. To the extent you're asking about communications of Page and Strzok, if I had known about those things that they were communicating that I've seen in open source, I would not have 19 had them stay on the -- playing any role in connection with that investigation. Mr. Gowdy. Would you have fired them? Mr. Comey. That I can't answer in the abstract. I'd certainly want the FBI disciplinary process to work and to look at it, to decide whether discipline was approp riate and what that would be. But I can't answer the ultimate question. Mr. Gowdy. But if I understood your answer to the first part of that correct, you would not have allowed them to remain on the Clinton investigation had you been aware of those tex ts. Mr. Comey. My judgment would have been -- and based -- the challenge for me is I haven't read all the texts, but based on what I saw -- have seen in the media since I left the FBI, that unless there was some explanation for that that I was missing, in my judgment, they wouldn't have remained part of the investigation. Mr. Gowdy. Well, I don't want you to answer that question in the abstract. Peter Strzok did offer a justification. He said that he was not biased for Clinton or against Trump. Not that his bias didn't impact his work, he got around to that later. He just said he wasn't biased. So, if you had brought him in and he had said, "Oh, but, Director Comey, I know I said he was a loathsome human being and I know I said that she should win 100 million to zero, but that doesn't mean I can't do my job," because that is certainly what 20 he told my Democrat colleagues, which they bought, so my question is, would you have bought that? Would you have left him on the investigation had you known ab out these texts? Mr. Comey. I would have certainly been open to listening to any explanation, but when you're the leader of a justice agency, the appearance of bias is as important as the existence of actual bias. And although I have seen no evidence of any bias in any of the participants in that effort, the appearance of bias would have been very important to me. So I -- again, it's hard to go back and live a life you didn't live, but I would imagine my judgment would have been you can't remain on the case.
continuing from where i left off it mostly is still about the bias/alleged bias of the texts and talks about how Sarzok was removed from the Muller investigation and the snippit ends on page top of page 22 of the PDF that is labeled source 2 in my OP . nothing ground breaking yet just a rehash of the text messages that have been reported on here before in the past but it seems at least initially the focus is on again perceived bias of Sarzok investigating Clinton and Paige and Sarzoks texts about the possibility of trump becoming president
Mr. Gowdy. When Special Counsel Mueller was made aware of the texts, he did immediately kick Strzok off of his team. Do you have any reason to disagree with his decision? Mr. Comey. No. I don't know the details of his decision, but, again, I've seen the open source reporting to that. And if that's true, it's a reasonable decision by a reasonable leader. Mr. Gowdy. And you believe, as we sit here today, that had you been aware of the texts contemporaneously, you too would have kicked Strz ok off of the Midyear Exam investigation? Mr. Comey. I think I answered that one already. I would certainly be open to an explanation that I don't know, can't imagine sitting here. But absent an explanation, the appearance 21 issue would have been very i mportant to me, and it's unlikely I would have left him on the case. Mr. Gowdy. Why is the appearance of bias as insidious as actual bias? Mr. Comey. The appearance of bias is as important. I don't know exactly what the word "insidious" means, so I'm not saying that one. It's as important as actual bias because the faith and confidence of the American people that your work is done in an independent, fair, and competent way matters enormously. And so a reasonable appearance of bias can corrupt that fa ith in your work as much as actual bias can. Mr. Gowdy. Had you known about the texts contemporaneously, would you have allowed Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to move from the Espionage Act or mishandling investigation to the Russia investigation? Mr. Com ey. I would have thought of it the same way, in that if either bias or appearance of bias, political bias, is very important to not have as part of your investigative work. So I would have thought that way about any investigation that was likely to touch the public interest in the way that that investigation did. So most likely I would think about it the same way. Mr. Gowdy. Well, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I do want to gain as much clarity as I can into this. You -- if I understand y ou correctly, you believe you would have 22 not kept them on either investigation, but you would be open to an explanation, but you can't think of what that explanation could have been that would have persuaded you to keep them? Mr. Comey. That's right. I try as a leader always to be open to things I might be missing, but absent something like that, I think it's likely -- again, it's hard to live a life you didn't live. But it's likely I wouldn't have kept them on the case for that reason, the reasons I s aid. Mr. Gowdy. If you had gained familiarity with a text from Lisa Page where she said, "Please tell me Trump won't ever be President," and Strzok responded, "No, no, he won't, we'll stop it," do you think you would have kept them on the investigation? Mr. Comey. I think of -- again, assuming you're recounting actual texts, I would think of it in the same way I thought of the ones you recounted earlier. I'd be concerned about bias or the perception of bias, and -- so I think about it the same way I thought about the earlier text you laid out.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, I want to remain open - minded to any other interpretations of that text, but what other interpretation could there be: Please tell me he won't be President. No, period, no, comma, He won't. We'll stop it. What explanation could there be that was benign enough to leave them on the very investigation they were commenting on? Mr. Comey. I don't know. And that -- I think that's what it means to be open - minded, to give people a chance to ex plain 23 something and then to think about their explanation. I don't know what it would be, and maybe there's none, but -- yeah, that's how I would think about it. Is there some explanation for this? If there is, tell me what it is, and then I'll make a judgment based on that. I can't get inside the head of people writing texts that I never saw, so that's why it's a little tricky for me to answer.
Mr. Gowdy. What was the Russia investigation? When you hear the phrase "Russia investigation," what do you think? Mr. Comey. To my mind, the term "Russia investigation" often refers to two different things: First, the investigation to understand what are the Russians doing to interfere in our election during the 2015 - 16 period; and then, second, it's often used to refer to the counterintelligence investigations that the FBI opened in late July. And so I hear it used interchangeably there, and those two things obviously connect, but I've always thought of it in two separate elements. Mr. Gowdy. Okay . We'll go with that. Late July of 2016, the FBI did, in fact, open a counterintelligence investigation into, is it fair to say the Trump campaign or Donald Trump himself? Mr. Comey. It's not fair to say either of those things, in my recollection. We opened investigations on four Americans to see if there was any connection between those four Americans 24 and the Russian interference effort. And those four Americans did not include the candidate. Mr. Gowdy. Do you recall who drafted the FBI's initiation document for that late July 2016 Russia investigation? Mr. Comey. I do not. Mr. Gowdy. Would you disagree that it was Peter Strzok? Mr. Comey. I don't know one way or the other. Mr. Gowdy. Do you know who approved that draft of an initial plan for the Russia investigation in late July 2016? Mr. Comey. I don't. Mr. Gowdy. Would you disagree that it was Peter Strzok? Mr. Comey. That Peter Strzok approved? I don't know one way or the other. Mr. Gowdy. Drafted and approved it. Mr. Co mey. I don't know one way or the other. Mr. Gowdy. Have you read that initiation document? Mr. Comey. I don't think so. I don't remember ever seeing it. Mr. Comey. Do you recall seeing the phrase "Trump campaign" in that initiation document? M r. Comey. Well, I don't remember seeing it, ever seeing it, so certainly don't remember any portion of it, because I don't remember ever seeing it. Mr. Gowdy. If it said Trump campaign, do you still have the same answer you had when I asked you whether o r not it involved 25 the Trump campaign? Mr. Comey. That's a question, Mr. Gowdy, I can't answer without having seen the document. So I'd be speculating about a document I don't think I've ever seen. Mr. Gowdy. Well, I want to be fair to you and make sure I understand your testimony. You have not, did not read the FBI initiation document that launched the Russia investigation, or you read it and do not recall what it said? Mr. Comey. I don't remember ever seeing it.
Mr. Gowdy. How does the FBI launch counterintelligence investigations? What documents are required?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for sure because it's opened far below the Director's level. But there's documentation in criminal investigations and in counterintelligence investigations t o explain the predication for the opening of a file, that is, the basis for the opening of a file.
Mr. Gowdy. Who at the FBI has the authority to launch a counterintelligence investigation into a major political campaign, and would that eventually have to be approved by you?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for a variety of reasons. I've never encountered a circumstance where an investigation into a political campaign was launched, and so I don't know how that would be done. And -- so that's my best answer to that question.
Mr. Gowdy. When did you learn there was a counterintelligence investigation into potential Russian ties 26 with the Trump campaign?
Mr. Comey. I was briefed sometime at the end of July that the FBI had opened counterintelligence investigations of four individuals to see if there was a connection between those -- any of those four and the Russian effort.
Mr. Gowdy. And who were those four individuals?
Mr. Comey. I don't think that the Bureau has said that publicly, and so I'm not going to answer that unless it's okay with the government.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, lucky for us we have the Bureau right here with us.
Ms. Bessee. Mr. Chairman, my understanding, this is an unclassified setting, and also anything that goes to the special counsel's ongoing investigation would be off limits for this witness to be able to respond to if they are individuals that are currently being looked at or investigated as part of the Russian investigation, the ongoing Russian investigation.
Mr. Gowdy. Let me make sure I understand the Bureau's position. The former Director, actually the Director at the time, can confirm publicly that there is a counterintelligence investigation, but he cannot now tell us who that counterintelligence investigation involved ?
Ms. Bessee. That is correct.
Mr. Gowdy. Director Comey, can you tell us the factual predicate that may have led to the launching of that 27 counterintelligence investigation?
Mr. Comey. I don't think that I can describe the factual predicate for two reasons: I don't remember precisely; and to the extent I remember, I think those are classified facts that implicate the concern the Bureau just expressed.
Mr. Gowdy. Some of our friends in the media use the word "collusion" from time to time. What is the crime of collusion?
Mr. Comey. What is the crime of collusion? I do not know. I've never heard the term "collusion" used in the way it's been used in our world over the last couple years before that. I don't know of a crime that involves collusion. I think in terms of conspiracy or aiding and abetting.
Mr. Gowdy. With counterintelligence investigations, is there always a criminal component or sometimes a criminal component?
Mr. Comey. Counterintelligence investigations involve an effort to understand the plans and intentions and activities of a foreign adversary. Sometimes that leads to the use of criminal tools to disrupt. Sometimes it involves other tools to disrupt. So criminal is an element of counterintelligence investigations always because it's a potential tool to disrupt.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you recall your March 2017 testimony in an open setting before the House Intelligence Committee?
Mr. Comey. In a general way.
Mr. Gowdy. It was when I believe the Bureau first confirmed 28 the existence of a counterintelligence investigation.
Mr. Comey. Okay. I remember that. I remember generally it was in March, but sure.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you recall in what way you used the word "criminal" and at what point in your testimony? Mr. Comey. Without looking at the testimony, I don't.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you recall Rod Rosenstein's memo appointing special counsel?
Mr. Comey. No, I don't.
Mr. Gowdy. What is the difference between collusion and conspiracy?
Mr. Comey. I don't know because I don't know what collusion means. It's a term I haven't heard in my career in the Justice Department, so I don't know.
Mr. Gowdy. Let's assume that collusion and conspiracy are synonyms, and we'll just use the word "conspiracy" because the word "collusion," despite its nonstop use, has no criminal consequences. Would it be a crime to access the DNC server or Podesta's email without permission or in an unlawful way?
Mr. Comey. That's a hard one to answer in the abstract. It's potentially a crime whenever someone either, without authorization, enters a computer system or conspires to enter a computer system without authorization.
Mr. Gowdy. Did the FBI, in July of 2016, have any evidence 29 anyone in the Trump campaign conspired to hack the DNC server?
Mr. Comey. Did we have evidence in July of '16 that anyone in the Trump campaign conspired to hack the DNC server? The challenge in answering that is -- and please don't take this nonanswer to imply that there is such information. I just -- I don't think that the FBI and special counsel want me answering questions that may relate to their investigation of Russian interference during 2016. And I worry that that would cross that line, Mr. Gowdy.
Mr. Gowdy. All right. Well, I'm not asking you what happened after the initiation. July 2016, when this was launched, when Peter Strzok drafted the initiation documents, did the FBI have evidence at the time that any member of the Trump campaign conspired to access the DNC server?
Mr. Comey. And, again, the challenge with answering that is it's a slope to answering questions about what we did or didn't know about Russian activity and the connection of any Americans to it during 2016, and I think that implicates the same problem I just talked about.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, Director, we're trying to understand what the factual predicate for launching a counterintelligence investigation was.
Mr. Comey. Sure. I understand the gravamen of your question.
Mr. Gowdy. You can't tell us, or you won't tell us?
Mr. Comey. Probably a combination of both; that is, as I said in response to your earlier question, I don't remember seeing the opening memos on counterintelligence cases opened in late July, so I can't recall exactly what the predication was. But, to the extent I recall facts developed during our investigation of Russian interference and the potential connection of Americans, I think that's a question that the FBI doesn't want me answering. So it's both a can't and a won't.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you believe your firing is evidence of obstruction of justice?
Mr. Comey. I don't know that I can answer that question because I'm not -- because I'm a witness, in a sense. I don't know the universe of facts that would reflect on that, so I can't answer it.
Mr. Gowdy. Have you ever had conversations with Rod Rosenstein where he indicated that he did not believe the contents of the memo he drafted?
Mr. Comey. I've never had any conversation with Rod Rosenstein about the memo he drafted, assuming you mean the memo that related to my firing.
Mr. Gowdy. Yes.
Mr. Comey. I've never had any conversation with him about that at all.
Mr. Gowdy. Have you read the memo?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you think it lays out a defensible case for terminating you as the FBI Director?
Ms. Bessee. Mr. Chairman, to the extent that question goes -- again, goes to the special counsel's investigation into obstruction, the witness will not be able to answer.
Mr. Gowdy. I think the whole world has read the memo and -- or most of the world. My question is whether or not Director Comey -- I think he's already answered he had no conversations with Rod Rosenstein. My question is, whether or not -- and he's entitled to his opinion -- whether or not he believes that that framed a sufficient factual basis for his termination as the FBI Director.
Ms. Bessee. He is entitled to his opinion, but to the extent -- because he also stated that he is also a witness in the investigation.
Mr. Gowdy. Which investigation is he a witness in?
Ms. Bessee. To the special counsel. He said he is a potential witness.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, you just said witness. Is there an obstruction of justice investigation?
Ms. Bessee. I believe there is an investigation that the special counsel is looking into.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, we all know that. Is it an obstruction of justice investigation?
Ms. Bessee. Mr. Chairman, can you rephrase the question, please?
Mr. Gowdy. Yes. We all know that. Is it an obstruction of justice investigation?
Ms. Bessee. Can you rephrase the question for the witness?
Mr. Gowdy. Yes. Director Comey, you're familiar with the memo drafted by Rod Rosenstein. You have not talked to Rod Rosenstein, as I understand your testimony. Do you believe the memo, just on the cold four pages of the memo, four corners of that document, do you believe it provides sufficient basis for your termination? Even if you would have done it differently, is it a basis for your termination?
Mr. Comey. I can't answer that, Mr. Chairman, because it requires me to get into the mind of the decisionmaker, who is the President, and I'm not in a position to do that
so covering the tarmac meeting and weather or not Clinton was informed of info on the investigation,which apparently comey does not know about . but next snippets are covering the Lynch meeting so perhaps it will make more sense with further context
Mr. Gowdy. Do you have any evidence the memo was subterfuge to fire you, but not for the -- but for a different reason?
Mr. Comey. I have no evidence at all about how the memo came to be created. I know that it was part of the documentation that was attached, what was sent to me, delivered to the FBI on the day I was fired. That's the only thing I have personal knowledge of.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Director Comey, I'd like to ask you some questions about the events surrounding your July 5th, 2016, press conference to announce your decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for the mishandling of classified information. 33 One of the things that happened the week before that press conference was, on June 27th of 2016, a meeting between Attorney General Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, a meeting that got a lot of attention. Do you recall that?
Mr. Comey. I do recall press coverage of a meeting on June 27th.
Mr. Ratcliffe, one thing I have to make sure is clear. You said my decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. I made a recommendation on behalf of the FBI to the Department of Justice. I just want to make sure that's precise. I do recall the coverage around that meeting.
Mr. Ratcliffe. And that is a meeting that took place on a tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona?
Mr. Comey. That's my recollection, yes, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you agree that any discussion about the Hillary Clinton mishandling classified information investigation, as you called it today, between the Attorney General and the spouse of the subject of the investigation would have been inappropriate?
Mr. Comey. Any discussion of the substance of the investigation? Potentially inappropriate. Again, I'd have to understand whether there was some other appropriate basis for the communication, but it would be concerning.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Potentially inappropriate is your answer. Also potentially illegal?
Mr. Comey. Well, that one's a hard one to answer. Any conversation is potentially illegal, depending on what people talk about. And so it would be potentially inappropriate, absent some explanation that would move it into the range of appropriate. That's why I'm giving you that answer because I don't know what was talked about.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Highly unusual for an Attorney General to meet with the spouse of the subject of one of her investigations. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Comey. I would agree with that.
Mr. Ratcliffe. And important to find out as much detail as possible about that conversation. Would you agree with that? Mr. Comey. I don't know that I would agree with that because the fact of the communication is in some ways more important than the substance of it. So I don't think I'd agree with that in the abstract.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Did you recall that Attorney General Lynch subsequently admitted that her actions in meeting with former President Clinton cast a shadow over the Department of Justice?
Mr. Comey. I actually don't remember that.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you remember what you said about the meeting on the tarmac?
Mr. Comey. I don't. I mean, if you give me more context, maybe I'd remember.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you recall saying it was part of your decision, one of the factors in your decision to take the, I think, unprecedented step of holding the press conference on July 5th of 2016?
Mr. Comey. Yes. I remember it being a factor, an important factor in my decision to step away from the Attorney General. I think I've talked about it in a variety of different contexts. But I was very concerned by the appearance of that interaction.
Mr. Ratcliffe. You mentioned it was one of a number of things that caused you to take that action, correct?
Mr. Comey. Correct.
Mr. Ratcliffe. One of those I believe you've testified previously was the fact that the Attorney General had asked you to refer to this investigation as a matter, correct?
Mr. Comey. That is correct.
Mr. Ratcliffe. One of the other things that you were concerned about was material or documentation, as yet unverified, indicating some possible agreement between Attorney General Lynch and the Clinton campaign about the investigation, correct?
Mr. Comey. Not that second piece because I've been very -- tried to be very careful in public comments about this. There was material that had not been verified that I believed if it became public would be used to cast doubt on whether the Attorney General had acted appropriately with respect to the investigation. I haven't gone -- I don't think I'm allowed to go beyond that in characterizing that material.
Mr. Ratcliffe. It was information that would, you believe, if released, have caused some to question the objectivity of the Department of Justice?
Mr. Comey. Correct.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Was there anything in that information that also would have raised questions about your objectivity or ability?
Mr. Comey. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Did you share with the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General or anyone at Main Justice your concerns that this information raised about the Attorney General's either real objectivity or the perception of her objectivity?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who? Who did you raise that with?
bottom of page 36 to page 39 of the document
Mr. Comey. My recollection is that, at some point in the first half of 2016, both the Deputy -- that the Deputy Attorney General was briefed on the nature of that material, and at some time after that, the Attorney General was briefed and interviewed about the nature of that material.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you know who the Attorney General was interviewed by?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for sure. I believe one of the participants in the conversation was the Deputy Director. At that point, it was Andrew McCabe. But there were others present as well, is my recollection. I was not there.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Was there a discussion about the Attorney General needing to recuse herself as a result of that information?
Mr. Comey. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. Ratcliffe. In the event of an Attorney General recusal, what does the Department of Justice policy say about a succession order of authority?
Mr. Comey. My recollection is that the Department of Justice policy then makes the Deputy Attorney General the Acting Attorney General for purpose of that matter, that case.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So, at that point, in the days leading up to the July 5th press conference, had you concluded or did you think that Attorney General Loretta Lynch should not be able to make a decision about whether to prosecute Hillary Clinton for the mishandling of classified information?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember reaching that conclusion. I remember being concerned about whether she should remain involved, especially after the tarmac visit, tarmac conversation. But before I had an opportunity to discuss that with anyone at DOJ, the Attorney General announced that she would not recuse but would accept my recommendation and that of the career prosecutors.
Mr. Ratcliffe. And 5 days after that tarmac incident, the 38 FBI and prosecutors from the Department of Justice did, in fact, interview Secretary -- former Secretary Clinton, correct?
Mr. Comey. I think it was 5 days.
Mr. Ratcliffe. It was on July 2nd.
Mr. Comey. It was the Saturday after that tarmac meeting.
Mr. Ratcliffe. You mentioned some of the agents earlier. Do you know how many folks combined, from the FBI and the Department of Justice, were present for the interview of Secretary Clinton?
Mr. Comey. The DOJ team for the interview of Secretary Clinton I think -- I could be wrong, but I think was five people: two special agents from the FBI and three lawyers from the Department of Justice.
Mr. Ratcliffe. You did not participate in the interview?
Mr. Comey. No, sir.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who drafted the questions that Secretary Clinton was going to be asked?
Mr. Comey. I don't know.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Did you participate at all in the questions?
Mr. Comey. No, I did not.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Why wasn't that interview recorded?
Mr. Comey. The interview wasn't recorded because the FBI does not record noncustodial, voluntary interviews.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Why wasn't that interview conducted before 39 a grand jury?
Mr. Comey. I don't recall exactly. I think for a number of strategic reasons. You'll know, as an experienced person, that the grand jury is often a limiting way to conduct a wide - ranging interview, but I don't remember for sure.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Let me see if I can refresh your recollection. I think you had a conversation with Inspector General Horowitz about that. On page 141 of the inspector general's report -