Former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged that he orchestrated the leak of a memorandum detailing his private interactions with President Donald Trump during testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday morning.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey said. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons.”
He added that he did so in hopes that his account might spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s contacts with elements of the Russian government, and any subsequent cover up.
The leak to The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt appears to have come by way of Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and close friend of the former director. The New Yorker describes Richman as Comey’s “unofficial media surrogate.”
Comey told Maine GOP Sen. Collins that he transmitted the memos to TheNYT through a friend at Columbia Law School.
At the hearing’s conclusion, the president’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, told reporters that Comey conceded to making unauthorized disclosures to undermine the president.
“Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President,” he said.
The former director told the Senate panel he arranged the leak, which appeared in the Times May 16, in response to the president’s May 12 tweet:
Kasowitz went on to claim that the timeline Comey laid out for orchestrating the leak was inaccurate. Though Comey claimed he decided to put the leak in motion on the evening of May 15, the Times was quoting from the memo as early as May 11 — the day before Trump’s tweet. The May 11 story and the May 16 story are both written by Schmidt, though the sourcing may well be different.
“Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory,” Kasowitz added.
It is not clear if Comey’s memos were privileged.
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