GOP chairs press DOJ for information on Comey friend who shared memo with press

GOP chairs press DOJ for information on Comey friend who shared memo with press
© Greg Nash

Two House GOP chairmen are pressing the Department of Justice (DOJ) for information about former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump rips Krugman, NYT after columnist writes GOP no longer believes in American values Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment Heavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system MORE's friend who shared the contents of a Comey memo with the press. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (Va.) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Democrats seize on Mueller-Barr friction MORE (S.C.) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump poised to roll back transgender health protections Trump claims Mueller didn't speak to those 'closest' to him And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinHeavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system Top Judiciary Republican reviews less-redacted Mueller report Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' MORE on Tuesday asking the DOJ to provide information about Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University.

Goodlatte and Gowdy, who are conducting a joint investigation into FBI decisionmaking during the 2016 presidential election, asked the DOJ to provide by May 15 documents and information about Richman's status at the FBI as well as his handling of Comey's memos. 

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They asked for a range of information about his involvement at the FBI, including any titles he had, his span of service at the bureau, his responsibilities, security clearance level status or statuses, who hired him, the degree of access he had to the FBI and DOJ, communications he had with other FBI officials, any reports or documents he produced, performance reviews and “any records that captured Richman's entry and exit to FBI space.” 

The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), blasted the move as a sideshow that aims to distract from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation.

"They are doing everything in their power to distract from President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE’s legal troubles and discredit the Department of Justice as a hedge against the next round of indictments. Think about all of the good our Committee might be doing instead,” Nadler said in a statement.

Comey revealed during a dramatic hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee last year that he had given a friend the contents of at least one of his memos to turn over to the press as part of an effort to "prompt the appointment of a special counsel." Trump fired Comey as he was spearheading the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Shortly after Richman shared some of the contents of the Comey memos with The New York Times, Mueller was appointed to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference.

Comey says he wrote the memos because he felt the president inappropriately asked him to pledge his loyalty to him.

He also said Trump asked him to drop his investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after reports revealed that he had lied to investigators about his contacts with a Russian diplomat.

Comey, who has recently embarked on a high-profile book tour about his time as FBI chief, has repeatedly denied that he disclosed classified information in the documents he gave to Richman, describing the memos as personal recollections of his interactions with the president. 

Some critics, however, have disputed this claim.

Comey defended the decision last week after a Fox News host suggested he improperly leaked information to Richman.

"I sent Mr. Richman a copy of a two-page unclassified memo, and asked him to get the substance of it out to the media," Comey told Fox News host Bret Baier during a heated back-and-forth. 

"I don't consider what I did with Mr. Richman a leak. I told him about an unclassified conversation with the president," he continued, adding that he never gave him anything else to share with the media.

The efforts to obtain documents about Richman come shortly after the DOJ turned over Comey's memos to the House Judiciary Committee last month, which came a day after The Hill reported that Goodlatte was drafting a subpoena for the documents.

Comey has faced increased Republican scrutiny during his book tour. Comey's feud with Trump took a vicious turn as Comey wrote dismissively of Trump's appearance and moral character in the bestseller "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership."