Policy

How We Got Here: A Timeline of How Comey Came to Testify Before Senate Intelligence

Comey will reflect upon his interaction's with the president so far this year

Comey testifying in from of a Senate panel in 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By STEPHANIE AKIN and RYAN KELLYCQ Roll Call

It was less than a year ago that then-FBI Director James B. Comey delivered mixed news for the Democratic Party’s nominee for president —Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified material was, “extremely careless,” but he would not bring charges against her in the case.

After that, he’s had quite the year: drawing fire from all sides, and eventually getting fired by President Donald Trump last month in the heat of a major investigation into potential relationships between Trump’s campaign and Russians who were actively interfering in the U.S. election.

Here’s a look at how it came to this:

2015

July

  • The inspector general for the intelligence community alerts Congressional oversight committees that classified material had been found on Hillary Clinton’s home email server that she used as secretary of state. The FBI opens a criminal investigation.

2016

Late April

  • Officials at the Democratic National Committee learn that Russian hackers have invaded their computer system.

July

COMEY

  • Comey delivers a blistering critique of Clinton at a press conference, but says he is not recommending charging Clinton in the case.
  • Comey testifies before Congress about the Clinton investigation, repeating his criticism and discussing his decision to close the case. He repeats his assertion that the case is closed but pledges to update members if anything changes.
  • Trump, at a press conference, says he hopes the Russian government has hacked Clinton’s emails and implores it to publish what it found.
  • The FBI opens an investigation into members of the Trump campaigns’ contacts with the Russian government.

October

  • In the course of an unrelated investigation the FBI seizes the computer of Anthony Weiner, a former New York congressman who was married to Clinton confidante and campaign aide Huma Abedin. Agents discover that thousands of Abedin’s emails had been backed up on Weiner’s computer, including some that had apparently moved through Cinton’s server.

WIKILEAKS

  • Wikileaks begins publishing hacked emails from the private account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
  • Comey determines that he is obligated to tell Congress he is reopening the Clinton investigation. He does so in a letter on Oct. 28.

November

  • Days before the election, Comey sends a letter to Congress saying that the new emails did not contain any new information.
  • Trump is elected president.

2017

March

Sessions

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the FBI’s Russia inquiry after acknowledging he had failed to report meetings with Russian officials when asked during his confirmation hearing.
  • Comey acknowledges for the first time during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI is investigating connections between members of the Trump administration and the Russian government.

April

  • Rod Rosenstein is confirmed as deputy attorney general by the Senate. Sessions’ recusal in March puts Rosenstein in charge of the Russia investigation.

May

  • Trump tweets:
  • Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abedin regularly sent emails to Weiner so he could print them out, and erroneously states that she had sent, “hundreds of thousands of emails,” to Weiner, “some of which contain classified information.”
  • In response to press reports that Comey’s most recent testimony was innacurate, the FBI sends a letter of correction to the committee chairman.
  • Trump announces that Comey has been dismissed. He cites a recommendation from Rosenstein that criticized Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation, and thanks Comey for repeatedly assuring him that he's not under investigation.

LAVROV

  • Trump hosts Russian officials in the Oval Office. According to the New York Times, he tells them he just fired Comey, and noted the "great pressure" of the Russia investigation had been relieved.
  • In an interview with NBC, Trump says that he made up his mind before requesting Rosenstein's recommendation. In an aside, he reveals that he was considering the "Russia thing" when he made his decision.
  • Trump tweets that Comey should consider whether there might be “tapes” of their conversations before he talks to the press.
  • The New York Times reports Comey wrote detailed memos of his interactions with Trump. In one of these, the president was described asking Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
  • Under mounting pressure, Rosenstein names former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to independently head the probe.
  • Trump tweets:
  • Comey agrees to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

June

  • A White House spokesperson says that the president will not assert executive privilege to block Comey from testifying.