Comey rejects Trump’s claim he leaked classified info: ‘He’s just wrong’
Former FBI Director James Comey fired back at President Trump on Thursday evening after the president accused him of leaking classified information.
Comey maintained during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier that information about his conversations with Trump that he had a friend share with a reporter last year was unclassified.
While the former FBI director had told Congress that he gave the information to a friend after he was fired in the hope that it would spur the appointment of a special counsel, the president claimed Thursday it amounted to leaking classified information.
“He’s just wrong. Facts really do matter,” Comey responded in his interview with Baier. “Which is why I’m on your show, to answer your questions. That memo was unclassified then, it’s still unclassified.
“It’s in my book. The FBI cleared my book before it could be published. That’s a false statement,” he added.
The president attacked Comey in a fiery phone interview with “Fox & Friends” earlier Thursday, accusing Comey of being a “liar and a leaker” and warning that he would put further pressure on the Justice Department in the future.
“You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI — it’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t.”
Comey told Congress last year that he gave information about his controversial conversations with Trump to Columbia law professor Daniel Richman to share with a reporter with the hope that it would lead to the appointment of a special counsel.
Richman told Fox News this week that he previously worked as a “special government employee” for the FBI under Comey on an unpaid basis. Comey maintained Thursday that he was within his right to share the information with Richman after he was fired.
Comey also revealed in the Fox News interview that he shared four memos total with his legal team, saying, “I gave the memos to my legal team after I gave them to Dan Richman, after I asked him to get it out to the media.”
“I gave four memos to my legal team, [which included] Patrick Fitzgerald, David Kelly and Dan Richman,” he added.
Comey said Richman joined his legal team some time after providing the contents of the memos to the media.
Comey also added that FBI officials made the decision to classify parts of his memos after his firing.
“Sometime after I was fired, the FBI apparently made a decision that there were some words in at least two of the memos, maybe one, I think two, that were diplomatically sensitive. And so, my lawyers returned them to the FBI.”
Comey had a similar exchange Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper over whether releasing his memos to the press amounts to leaking.
The former FBI director has asserted that he viewed the memos as personal documents and that he was within his authority to share them.
“Is it OK for somebody at the FBI to leak something, an internal document, even if it’s not classified? Isn’t that leaking?” Cooper asked during a CNN town hall Wednesday.
“Well, there’s a whole lot wrong with your question, Anderson,” Comey responded.
“I think of a leak as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” Comey said.
“Really? That’s it?” Cooper said.
“That’s how I thought of it as FBI director. We investigated leaks. Unauthorized disclosures,” Comey responded. “The bottom line is, I see no credible claim by any serious person that that violated the law.”
Trump has attacked Comey frequently in response to remarks made by Comey during the promotion of his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which released last week.
The president has tweeted that Comey should be imprisoned for releasing the memos.
–Updated at 8:37 p.m.