News & Politics

Justice Department IG Examining Comey Memos Over Classified Information

Former FBI Director James Comey (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The inspector general of the Department of Justice is looking to see if classified information was exposed in memos former FBI Director James Comey gave to a friend. The memos document conversations Comey had with Donald Trump.

Fox News:

A source familiar with the probe confirmed to Fox News the inspector general is looking at whether classified information was given to unauthorized sources as part of a broader review of Comey’s communications outside the bureau — including media contact.

The developments put the ex-FBI boss in the crosshairs of an investigation just as his former deputy, Andrew McCabe, faces a criminal referral over a separate leak.

The Wall Street Journal reported that at least two of those Comey memos have been to found to contain material now deemed classified, prompting the inspector general investigation.

A broader set of memos detailing Comey’s conversations with Trump were handed over to Congress Thursday evening.

Comey has maintained he didn’t release any memos containing classified material. In his testimony last year before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said he made the decision to document the interactions in a way that would not trigger security classification.

But the newly released memos could cause problems for Comey.

The Journal noted that Comey himself redacted classified elements in one of those memos, and another memo had material later upgraded by the FBI to “confidential” (a low classification level).

They apparently were among the four memos Comey gave to friend Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School.

In the seven total memos handed over to congressional committees, eight of the 15 pages have redactions under classified exceptions. They include classified information at one of the most sensitive levels — SECRET — as well as the lower level of confidential.

Comey is almost certainly not in any serious trouble for leaking classified information. Only little people are prosecuted for that offense. Comey, as a Washington insider, probably gets a free pass.

But why did Comey leak the memos to his friend, Daniel Richman? Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal:

STRASSEL: “There does seem to be almost a sense of entrapment in these memos, as though he was urging the president to do things so that he could then run back outside and write down the bad things the president had done, in his mind. And by the way, the double standard here, too, Brian, I think is glaringly evident. Jim Comey tells us in his book and on this tour about the doubts he had about Loretta Lynch and her judgment, some of the orders she gave him. But do we have any conversations between him and her that were memorialized? Absolutely not. There’s a lot of other things that come out of this memo, too. I think we’re finding as well that Jim Comey, he likes to talk about how he’s  ‘just the facts’ guy, but again, only the fact that matter. Once we are seeing the context of a lot of the statements that have been wafting around in the press for the last year, it turns out there is a very different reading of this than the one that only Jim Comey was giving us up until now.”

As a consummate Washington insider, Comey is well aware that anything said to anyone in power is likely to end up on the front page of the Washington Post. Of course he was aware that his conversations with Trump would become public and he knew that the memos he wrote would also see the light of day.

This places those memos in an entirely different context. Was it “entrapment” as Strassel suggests? It’s certainly possible.

For a guy who wrote about the integrity of public servants, Comey could use some of his own advice.