WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairmen of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee on Saturday released a transcript of former FBI Director James Comey's closed-door testimony about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails.
The two Republican-controlled panels are investigating Clinton's use of a private email server while she was in office, and the handling of the probe into whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 U.S. election.
The transcript covers Comey's Friday appearance in the House of Representatives, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said in a statement. Comey is due to appear before the committees again on Dec. 17.
The Republican-led inquiry has been lambasted by Democrats, who will take over the House of Representatives in January, as a partisan effort to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Russia has denied any interference.
"Our Republican colleagues seem intent on spending their final days in power attempting to provide cover to President Trump and attempting to re-litigate the Department of Justice's decision not to prosecute Secretary Clinton,” Democrats Jerrold Nadler and Elijah Cummings said in a statement.
Nadler and Cummings, who are expected to chair the Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively, next year, added that Comey's testimony provided no new material facts.
"Today wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president," Comey said on Twitter after Friday's hearing.
"They came up empty today but will try again. In the long run, it'll make no difference because facts are stubborn things."
At one point in the closed-door session, the transcript shows that Comey was asked to confirm his position that an FBI investigation of Clinton showed no prosecution was merited.
"Yep. I believed it then, I believe it now. And anybody that thinks we were on team Clinton trying to cut her a break is smoking something," Comey replied, according to the transcripts.
Comey initially resisted appearing at a closed-door hearing, saying the session could have been conducted in public. But he dropped his opposition on Dec. 2, after lawmakers agreed to provide a full transcript within 24 hours and said he would be permitted to make it public.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Jason Lange; Editing by Susan Thomas)