Former FBI Director James Comey Admits that He Leaked Memos … Did Comey Violate Laws In Leaking The Trump Memo? (VIDEO)
JUST WHO COMMITTED THE CRIME?
In one of the most damning moments of from Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing during questioning from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), former FBI director James Comey admitted that he leaked the Trump memo. Legal scholar and analyst Jonathon Turley asked the question, did Comey violate the law when he leaked this Trump memo to his friend, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, and directed him to leak it to the media? Like clockwork, the leaked memo showed up in the New Your Times.
Comey admitted that leak after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked him why he kept those memos, and then asked if he ever shared any of them outside the Department of Justice.
Comey replied by saying that after Trump hinted on Twitter that he might have tapes of discussions between the two men, he thought it made sense to release his memo, and admitted he was hoping it would create the need for special counsel.
One of the most interesting new disclosures today in the Comey hearing was the admission by former FBI Director James Comey that he intentionally used a “friend” on the Columbia law faculty to leak his memos to the media. Comey says that he did so to force the appointment of a Special Counsel. However, those memos could be viewed as a government record and potential evidence in a criminal investigation.
Notably, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman on a faculty webpage reads that he is “currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.” Richman specializes in criminal law and criminal procedure.
The problem is that Comey’s description of his use of an FBI computer to create memoranda to file suggests that these are arguably government documents. Comey admitted that he thought he raised the issue with his staff and recognized that they might be needed by the Department or Congress. They read like a type of field 302 form, which are core investigatory documents.
The admission of leaking the memos is problematic given the overall controversy involving leakers undermining the Administration. Indeed, it creates a curious scene of a former director leaking material against the President after the President repeatedly asked him to crack down on leakers.
Besides being subject to Nondisclosure Agreements, Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and nonclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified (though it seems odd that it would not be classified even on the confidential level), there is 18 U.S.C. § 641 which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”