Shortly after his dismissal as head of the FBI, James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHillary 2024? Given the competition, she may be the Dems' best hope Trump draws attention with admission he 'fired Comey' Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE authorized "a close friend" to leak the contents of his memos to the press in order to prompt a special counsel investigation.
The memo, written contemporaneously, documented Comey's Oval Office meeting with President Trump during which the president allegedly asked him to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter," Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. "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."
The New York Times first reported the memos on May 16. The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel two days later.
Comey characterized the leaker as a close friend who is a professor at Columbia Law School. The former director is known to be friends with Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia professor and former federal prosecutor who served as chief appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
Comey was moved to act after the president tweeted a cryptic threat that he, Comey, "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
The tweet came after a series of press reports documenting a separate White House encounter with the president, during which Trump allegedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty.
At that point, Comey had kept silent on the Oval Office meeting — largely because senior FBI leadership agreed that there was no way to corroborate his account, he said.
According to Comey, a few days after the tweet, he woke up "in the middle of the night" with the realization that there might be a tape of his conversation with the president.
"I needed to get that out into the public square," he said.
Pressed on the reasoning behind his decision to leak the memos, Comey explained that “as a private citizen I thought it important to share that, I wanted to get it out." He stressed that his memos were unclassified, personal "recollection."
He also said that he did not release the memos to the media himself because he "worried it'd be like feeding seagulls at the beach."