The former FBI director may be in some hot water.
A bombshell report from The Hill revealed that four of the seven “Trump memos” created by James Comey contained classified information. The revelations contradict statements the fired FBI director made during a Senate Intelligence committee hearing and undermine his past criticism of Hillary Clinton.
While still employed by the White House, Comey created the memos following conversations with the president. The two first met during a one-on-one private dinner at the White House on January 27. They also spoke privately in the Oval Office on February 14. During their conversation at the Oval Office, Trump reportedly asked the former FBI director to close the investigation of Michael Flynn. Comey says he decided to keep notes because his interactions with Donald Trump made him feel uneasy.
Government officials determined that four of the memos contain information that have been marked as as both “Confidential” and “Secret” by the FBI.
Not only did Comey remain in possession of the memos even after getting the boot on May 9, he also leaked at least one of the documents to a Columbia law professor friend, Daniel Richman. Comey’s intention of leaking the memo to Richman was to instigate a special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Richman did, in fact, share the memo with the New York Times.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey said in testimony. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Comey insisted he believed that the memos he created were unclassified: “My thinking was if I write it in such a way that I don’t include anything that would trigger a classification, that would make it easier to discuss within the FBI and the government and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us,” he stated.
What does all this mean for James Comey?
A lot remains to be seen. If he is found to have conducted “unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material,” he would be in direct violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1924. However, that “unauthorized” part may be tricky.
As the acting FBI director, Comey was at liberty to authorize what information can be classified and unclassified. However, Comey kept the documents long after he was fired. Also, Politico is now reporting that some of the memos were retroactively classified, further complicating this growing drama.