Did James Comey leak classified information to the press?
There is absolutely no evidence or reporting that he did. But that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from making the claim on Twitter.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey did admit that he gave a memo he had written summarizing a meeting he had with President Trump to a friend and asked him to share it with a reporter.
The Hill reported this morning, citing “officials familiar with the documents,” that “more than half” of the memos Comey created summarizing his meetings with Trump contained classified information.
According to The Hill, there were seven memos produced by Comey about his meetings with Trump and four of them contained classified information. Comey, according to his testimony, gave one to the press. Was it one of the memos that contained classified info? The Hill article does not say that it was.
But Comey, as the Washington Post notes, made clear in his Senate testimony that the memo he gave to the press, detailing his February 14th meeting with Trump, was specifically written to exclude classified information.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?
Comey: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.
Comey: It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.
The Hill report ignores this testimony and repeatedly suggests — without explicitly alleging it — that Comey leaked classified information, going into details on the potential legal violations and consequences.
The journey from the misleading Hill report to Trump’s tweet was assisted by Fox & Friends, which Trump watches religiously.
Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information pic.twitter.com/Hkg4cAb6o9
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 10, 2017
The “report” did not make that accusation against Comey — although clearly that was the intention of the article.
The article was written by John Solomon, a top executive with Sinclair Media, which attracted controversy by making a deal with the Trump campaign to secure more access in exchange for more favorable, “straighter” coverage.