Former FBI Director James Comey was short with a reporter who asked him Monday about leaking classified information, refusing to deny he had done so.
“My understanding is that when you shared your memos with your legal team that there was a follow-up for a classified containment operation by the bureau,” the reporter said after Comey’s closed-door testimony at the Capitol. “Was there a spill of classified information when you shared those memos?”
“Yeah, I’m not going to talk about something like that,” Comey shot back.
“Well, that’s important to talk about whether classified information was mishandled,” the reporter persisted.
“Whether you think it is or not, I’m not going to talk about it one way or another,” Comey said.
James Comey Refuses To Deny He Leaked Classified Info pic.twitter.com/B9IxZMgz3Q
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) December 17, 2018
The reporter’s questions referenced memos that Comey gave to Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and friend who is currently a professor at Columbia Law School, according to The Daily Wire.
Comey justified giving the classified memos to Richman with the claim that he believed they were his personal property.
“So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt asked Comey during a hearing in June 2017. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey said. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”
Comey is spending time on Capitol Hill this week to discuss his dealings with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
During the June 2017 hearing, Comey addressed the specifics of the memo on Flynn.
“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” Comey told lawmakers.
“My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded,” he added.
However, according to The Hill, the “personal” memos that Comey passed off to a friend were government documents, some of which were marked as classified.
“Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the secret or confidential level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter,” The Hill reported.
FBI policy “forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission,” the report said.
President Donald Trump commented on Comey’s information leak in the spring of this year.
“James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council?” the president tweeted.
“Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.