Comey Tells Fox News He Still Doesn't Know for a Fact that Democrats Funded the Steele Dossier
Fired FBI Director James Comey, in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, defended sharing his memos about conversations with President Trump with friends, saying the memos were akin to his "personal diary." Incredibly, he also claimed that he still doesn't know for a fact that Democrats funded the Steele dossier. And he seemed intent on pushing the false left-wing talking point that Republicans were behind the funding of the Steele dossier.
Strangely enough, he also claimed to not be familiar with the term "collusion," seeming to favor the word "cahoots" to describe the activity that sparked the FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump's campaign.
Comey told "Special Report" anchor Bret Baier that his memos were unclassified when he shared them. “It's still unclassified. It's in my book. The FBI cleared that book before it could be published,” he insisted. “I didn't consider it part of an FBI file. It was my personal aide to memoir.”
When he appeared before the Senate last June, Comey admitted that he shared his memos with his friend, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, with the intention of having the contents leaked to the media.
Comey told Baier that he gave copies of his memos to his legal team after he gave them to Richman to leak to the media. After two of them were deemed to contain classified information, he said his lawyers returned them to the FBI.
Baier player a clip of President Trump on "Fox and Friends" Thursday morning accusing Comey of being a “a leaker and a liar” who is “guilty of crimes.”
"He's just wrong -- facts really do matter, which is why I'm on this show to answer your questions," Comey responded. "That memo was unclassified then, it's still unclassified -- it's in my book! The FBI cleared that book before it could be published."
Asked why he didn't reveal that Richman had been hired as a special government employee for the FBI to work on special projects, he answered: “None of that was true at the....”
When Baier asked Comey what crime or collusion was used as a basis for the investigation, the former director said "collusion's not a word that I'm familiar with."
He added that the FBI opens a counterintelligence investigation to find out if "any Americans are in cahoots with the foreign intelligence activities of an adversary nation."
Asked when he learned that the Hillary Clinton campaign was behind the funding of the dossier, Comey responded, "Yeah, I still don't know that for a fact." He added he had only seen those reports in the media. "I know it was funded first by Republicans," he said.
"That's not true!" responded Baier.
"My understanding was his (Christopher Steele's) work started ... as oppo research funded by Republicans," Comey insisted.
"So Free Beacon said that they had Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS on kind of a retainer but they did not fund the Christopher Steele memo or the dossier," Baier informed him. "That was initiated by Democrats."
"Okay, my understanding was the activity was begun -- that Steele was hired to look into -- was first funded by Republicans, then ... picked up by Democrats opposed to Donald Trump," Comey replied.
"Did you tell President Obama ... who it was funded by?" Baier asked.
Comey answered, "Not to my recollection."
Baier pressed him, "So you still to this day don't know that it was funded by the DNC?"
Comey answered only that he had read that in the media, but didn't know it for a fact.
The "Special Report" panel included Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, D.C. attorney Joe diGenova, journalist Mollie Hemingway, and NPR's Mara Liasson.
"What's key here is that ... those memos were returned to the FBI after they found classified information," Herridge said. "He can call it whatever he wants -- that is a classified spill of information. Doesn't matter whether they have clearances. They didn't have the ability to secure that information."
Joe diGenova said, "I thought it was breathtaking duplicity. America's dirty cop continues to amaze me with the destruction of the institution that he used to lead." He agreed with Herridge's analysis regarding the leaks: "It's not his decision. He's supposed to know what's classified. He has the authority to classify under the law, and yet he maintains that he did not give away classified information. He leaked classified information to the New York Times. That's a crime!"
Hemingway thought it was interesting that Comey said he would have stayed on at the FBI had he not been fired, suggesting "that there's something other than justice that was his high concern."
She also thought Comey was "shockingly uninformed about who funded the dossier."
Herridge said that "one of the basics of journalism and any investigation is understanding the credibility of the source. And the fact that he didn't have his arms around what the source was... was really kind of confusing to me." She also pointed out that his claim that the dossier only played a small role in how the FISA warrant was obtained to spy on Carter Page was questionable. "That's in direct conflict with what Republicans have said," she noted.