What is the rationale of having a "closed" congressional hearing (viz: Comey testifying Dec 7 2018) AND asserting that his testimony (via transcript) will be released 24 hours later?

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  • I assume they're closed in order to freely talk about sensitive issues if needed, and if no such issues are discussed it's then safe to release the transcript.
    – Giter
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 17:03
  • @David S - your last sentence - exactly what I'm asking - what are those reasons. While other contributors MAY express opinions (and I've no conrol over what others say). I am asking a factual question - that of what are the reasons.
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 18:42
  • @giter - if sensitive issues are discussed, doesn't that suggest that a less than full transcript would be released.
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 18:46
  • I would venture to say that when full transcripts are released they are redacted as deemed necessary.
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:04
  • FYI, I deleted two of my comments as the question was properly edited to make my comments no longer valid.
    – David S
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


A standard answer might be that a closed door allows Comey to speak freely, and the intervening 24 hour period allows for classified information (or otherwise sensitive information) to be redacted from the transcript prior to publication. However, the main reason is it's a political compromise.

Comey has requested public hearings. Many Congressmen want private hearings.

Why does Comey want a public hearing? Here's the letter explain why A couple of reasons seem like they could apply. It mentions Comey's lack of a security clearance. It could be he's still annoyed at being fired and wants to go public. He explicitly is asking Congress to get him permission to disclose FBI materials. There's also a worry that members of the committee could selectively leak information that mischaracterizes what Comey said.

Why do the Congressmen want a closed-door meeting? Possibly to allow classified information. Possibly for other political reasons or for the flip side of any of the reasons Comey would want a public hearing. I'm not really going to speculate there.

  • I've also wondered about the distinction of Comey now being a private citizen. My impression is that as a private citizen Comey can not reveal classified or sensitive information without the express approval of the Justice Department. IF that is the case, it's not surprising that Comey would not answer questions that fall into that category. (and that appears to be what happened according to open source reporting). Which then circles 'round to the original question, if Comey can't (legally) answer classified questions, what is the rationale of having closed hearing?
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 15:16
  • A quick scan of the transcript reveals only one redaction of a statement made by Congressman Meadows. It appears to be naming two individuals at the FBI. What was also interesting was the assertion by My Comey's attorney that the House counsel had asserted before the District court that "We were told in advance that this would not deal with anything law enforcement sensitive or classified information".
    – BobE
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 4:53

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