National Security

Comey claims release of memo not a ‘leak’ in heated Fox interview

Greg Nash

Former FBI Director James Comey sparred with Fox News’s Bret Baier in a heated interview Thursday over whether his decision last year to share the contents of a memo detailing his conversations with President Trump constituted a “leak.”

During his dramatic testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said he gave a memo he wrote detailing his conversations with Trump to Columbia University Law School professor Daniel Richman. Whether Comey’s release of the memo constituted a “leak” has been a point of contention for the former FBI chief in recent days.

In an interview on “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Comey argued that the memos he created were personal documents, akin to “diaries,” and did not constitute leaks because he believed them to all be unclassified.{mosads}

“So what specifically did you leak to Mr. Richman?” Baier asked the former FBI chief on Thursday.

“I sent Mr. Richman a copy of a 2-page unclassified memo, and asked him to get the substance of it out to the media,” Comey replied.

Baier pressed forward, asking what else he “leaked” to Richman.

“I don’t consider what I did with Mr. Richman a leak,” Comey answered. “I told him about an unclassified conversation with the president.”

“I gave him nothing else, ever, to share with the media,” he added.

Comey’s remarks came despite news reports that more than half of seven memos he created about his conversations with the president contained at least some classified information and had sparked a review by the Justice Department inspector general.

Baier then pressed Comey on whether his records of conversations with Trump were really personal documents and not a “work product.”

“No, it was not. It was my personal aide de memoir,” Comey responded. “I carried two copies of it. One to keep in my personal safe at home, and I left another one at the FBI so the bureau could always have access to it. But I always thought of it as mine, like a diary.”

Comey then went on to confirm that he also provided copies to his legal team.

“I gave the memos to my legal team after I gave them to Dan Richman, after I asked him to get it out the media,” he said.

Comey added that “after he was fired” he was informed by the FBI that some of the language in the memos was “diplomatically sensitive,” so he returned them to the bureau for redaction.

The exchange between Comey and Baier was similar to an exchange between Comey and anchor Anderson Cooper during a CNN town hall on Wednesday.

“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.

“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.”

President Trump has frequently hit Comey over Twitter, calling him a “leaker” and a “liar” and alleging he broke the law by sharing his memos.

Tags Donald Trump FBI James Comey Leak Memos Trump administration White House

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