SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz wants former FBI Director James Comey to answer questions before his congressional committee about a memo he purportedly wrote saying that President Donald Trump asked him to drop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s relationship with Russia.
"I think at some point that should happen. I'd like it to be in a public setting," Chaffetz said Wednesday, adding that his preference would be for it to take place in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he chairs.
Chaffetz, R-Utah, has scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday and was in the process of trying to connect with Comey. In a tweet, Chaffetz said Comey has apparently changed his cellphone number since he was fired.
Comey hasn't officially accepted the invitation, "but wants to testify publicly as soon as he can," one person who has spoken to Comey said.
Chaffetz sent a letter Tuesday to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe requesting "all memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" relating to any communications between Comey and Trump by next Wednesday as well.
"I've got my subpoena pen ready if you're thinking about not giving them to us. But I'm happy to subpoena them, which I can do unilaterally," the congressman said.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, questioned why Comey didn't report Trump's alleged comments to the justice department.
"It would be inappropriate for the president to interfere with any ongoing investigation. The question is did James Comey view this as a potential interference," Stewart said in a prepared statement.
"If he did, he has a legal responsibility to report that to the Department of Justice. The fact that he didn't report the conversation indicates to me that he didn't view it as a potential interference. We need answers to more of those questions."
Sen. Orrin, Hatch, R-Utah, is waiting to get more information on "these sensitive matters" from the White House and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a meeting Thursday.
"It's in the best interest of Congress, the Trump administration and, most importantly, the American people that we get to the bottom of these reports," said Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock.
Meantime, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee are asking the FBI to turn over memos prepared by Comey regarding communications he had with the White House or Justice Department about the FBI's Russia investigations, Politico reported.
Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Mark Warner, D-Va., also sent a request Wednesday for Comey to testify before their panel in both open and closed sessions. They had previously asked Comey to testify in closed session this week, but he declined.
Trump allegedly asked Comey to stop his investigation into Flynn. According to the New York Times, Trump told Comey, “I hope you can let this go." Comey then purportedly wrote down the conversation in a memo.
Chaffetz said he doesn't know if the memo exists, but he is taking the news report seriously.
"I don't know if it's an actual fact yet, (the) meeting between Comey and Trump, and what was said and not said, and what did Comey write down on a piece of paper at the time," he said.
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, called the allegation that Trump might have pressured Comey to end an investigation into Flynn "extremely concerning."
"Congress must obtain all relevant documents in order to understand what took place. I am confident that the committees of jurisdiction will obtain this information, and I urge them to do so in an expedited manner so we can act to restore public trust and transparency," Love said.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is reserving judgment, according to a spokesman.
“Sen. Lee is concerned about the issues raised by the Comey memo, but before passing judgment on what happened, Sen. Lee would like to read the memo in question and talk to Comey about it," Conn Carroll, Lee's communications director, said.
Utah's other delegation member, Rep. Rob Bishop, did not respond to requests for comment on the Comey memo.26 comments on this story
"I think our congressional delegation is really trying to stay focused on the things that matter most, which is the agenda," said Boyd Matheson, president of the Sutherland Institute, listing issues such as Bears Ears National Monument and health care. "I think they're also trying to send a message to the administration that we need to get focused."
Matheson said Republicans are growing tired with the Trump administration because the distractions are keeping them from reforming government when they control the White House and Congress.
Chasing tweets and scandals take them away from what they were elected to do, he said.