WASHINGTON — America's intelligence chiefs sat down with members of Congress behind closed doors on Friday for what they thought would be a straightforward briefing on Russian cyberattacks. What ensued instead was a confrontation Democrats have long sought with James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Why, the House Democrats demanded to know, did Mr. Comey believe it was O.K. to make repeated disclosures during the campaign about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails but to this day refuse to say if the F.B.I. is investigating links between the Trump campaign and Russia?
His answers did not prove very satisfying. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, grew so frustrated that at one point she chastised Mr. Comey for being "condescending to members."
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who was chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee when it was hacked, asked why Mr. Comey had never called her about the intrusions, which began in August 2015 and continued over the course of many months. The F.B.I. notified the committee of the original hacking, but reached a low-level tech support contractor and went back and forth with him for months before the leadership of the organization was informed and took steps to halt the intrusion.
The committee and the bureau have blamed each other for the delay, and the pattern continued on Friday, according to multiple Democrats in the meeting.
Afterward, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, called the tenor of the exchanges "contentious at times."
"I don't want to go into the contents of what were discussed," Mr. Schiff said. But "a great many members are concerned with whether the director has employed a double standard."
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