The New York Times filed a lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act Friday, demanding that the Bureau furnish records and memos that former Director James Comey generated memorializing conversations with President Donald Trump.
The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York. TheNYT and its Washington correspondent, Charlie Savage, are named as plaintiffs.
Comey told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his testimony last Thursday that the memos he prepared documenting communications with Trump were not classified. As such, it is likely that they do not fall within the scope of a FOIA exception for classified or sensitive materials. The former director told the panel that the Bureau and special counsel Robert Mueller are in possession of the memos. Mueller is leading the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
TheNYT was the first to report that the former director kept scrupulous records of each of his conversations with President Trump, before his abrupt dismissal in May. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he chose to document his communications with Trump for fear that the president would subsequently misrepresent them.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said.
During the course of that testimony, Comey admitted that he orchestrated the leak to the Times which revealed the existence of the memos. Just days after his dismissal, he asked a longtime friend, Professor Daniel Richman of Columbia Law School, to approach Times reporter Michael Schmidt with the story. Though Richman shared the contents of a single memo with Schmidt, the Times has never been in possession of any record Comey prepared concerning his communications with the president.
TheNYT is not the only news organization seeking access to the memos through the freedom of information process. CNN filed its own lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
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