National Security

IG investigating Comey memos over classified information: report

Toya Jordan

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is reviewing former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to provide his friend with memos that government officials now view as containing classified information, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. 

As FBI director, Comey had the authority to decide what information should be treated as classified in his memos, at least initially. 

Comey has admitted to giving at least one of his memos to Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University who leaked its contents verbally to a reporter at The New York Times. 

{mosads} He said he gave Richman a “single unclassified memo,” with the intention that it be leaked to the press in an effort to prompt the appointment of a special counsel — something that came to pass when the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to that very job.

Comey has also maintained that he did not disclose classified information, saying he deliberately wrote some of the memos so that they would not be classified.

“My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee last May.

But one source familiar with the matter told the Journal that inspector general for the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, is investigating classification issues related to at least two of Comey’s memos.

The Journal reports that Comey gave Richman at least three of the memos, but blacked out information in two of them that he viewed as classified. 

He gave Richman another memo in full that he determined did not include any classified information, one source familiar with the matter told the Journal. After Comey left the bureau, however, bureau officials reportedly decided the contents of the document were “confidential,” which is considered the lowest level of classification.

President Trump and his allies have repeatedly accused Comey of illegally leaking classified information to the press. Those attacks have intensified in the wake of Comey’s book tour this week. 

“James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?” the president tweeted on Friday. 

During an interview with The New York Times’s “The Daily Podcast” on Friday, Comey again said the memos were personal recollections that he wrote to memorialize his interactions with Trump in order to note requests he viewed as inappropriate.  

“I did it that night as soon as I got home on my personal laptop and printed it out on my printer, created two copies,” he said, recalling the process he followed after Trump asked him to make a pledge of loyalty to him during a dinner at the White House.

“These weren’t on letterhead,” he added. 

The memos also detail another conversation that Comey had with Trump about former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey told Congress last year that Trump is the only president whose interactions compelled him to keep such memos.

The Justice Department turned over the memos to Congress on Thursday night, which The Hill obtained shortly afterwards. 

Four of Comey’s memos are classified and will be sent to lawmakers on Friday.

Tags Donald Trump James Comey Robert Mueller
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