White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday that the Department of Justice should “certainly” look at prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey for leaking memos he wrote after his meetings with President Trump.
“Would the president encourage the DOJ to prosecute Comey?” Sanders was asked in Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“That’s not the president’s role. That’s the job of the Department of Justice, and certainly something they should look at,” said Sanders.
“I think if there’s ever a moment where we feel someone’s broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the FBI, I think that’s certainly something that should be looked at.”
Sanders’ comments are an escalation in the battle between the White House and Comey, who was fired by Trump on May 9.
While in office, Comey wrote at least nine memos of his conversations and interactions with Trump. Some of the documents, which Comey turned over only after leaving the FBI, reportedly contained classified information.
Comey provided at least one of those memos to a friend with instructions to leak information from the documents to The New York Times. That document memorialized Comey’s conversation with Trump in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, the day after Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser.
Comey claimed in the Feb. 14 memo that Trump asked him to back off of an investigation into Flynn, who was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador.
Trump’s interactions with Comey and his decision to fire the Obama appointee are reportedly part of the focus of an investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller was appointed to that role a week after Comey’s firing. For his part, Comey testified that one of the reasons he released memos of his conversations with Trump was to spur the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe.
In Tuesday’s briefing, Sanders insisted that Trump “was 100 percent right in firing James Comey.”
“Comey by his own self-admission leaked privileged government information,” she told reporters.
“His actions were improper, and likely could have been illegal. Comey leaked memos to The New York Times…he politicized an investigation by signalizing that he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses,” she added, referring to a report out earlier this month that Comey created draft statements exonerating Clinton in the email investigation months before FBI agents interviewed her and more than a dozen other witnesses.