James Comey may have leaked at least one classified memo to a friend shortly after he was fired as FBI director.
That’s an assessment from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, who wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday demanding answers about the handling of memos that Comey wrote following his conversations with President Trump.
Grassley noted that he and his staff recently reviewed seven memos that Comey wrote after his meetings with Trump. Four of those documents contained information classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” or “SECRET.”
Grassley also pointed to past reporting that Comey gave four memos of his conversations with Trump to a friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman.
“If it’s true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information,” Grassley writes.
Comey acknowledged during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June that after he was fired by Trump on May 9, he gave memos to a friend, later identified as Richman, with instructions to provide one of the documents to the press.
Comey acknowledged that his goal with the leak was to force the creation of a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it,” Comey testified.
The document that Comey instructed Richman to leak memorialized a conversation that Comey had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017, a day after Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser.
Comey wrote in that memo — which he claimed was unclassified — that Trump told him of the FBI’s investigation into Flynn: “I hope you can let this go.”
Richman read sections of that document to a New York Times reporter. After a story was published on the topic, Rosenstein decided to appoint Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel.
Richman told Fox News that he received four memos from Comey, but he claimed that the documents did not bear classification markings.
“No memos were given to the press, and no memos were classified at the time I received them,” Richman told Fox.
Grassley asserted in his letter that the DOJ and FBI have failed to provide crucial details about the memos and how they were handled.
He said that during a recent review of the memos, which was held in a secure facility, FBI personnel “refused” to answer questions about the chain of custody of the memos, the dates on which they were deemed classified, and who made those determinations.
In his letter, Grassley asked Rosenstein to clarify whether the DOJ or FBI have determined whether any of the memos that Comey sent to Richman contained classified information and which of the seven Comey memos had been provided to Richman.
Grassley is also inquiring when Richman received the memos and whether any had classification markings on them at the time they were exchanged.
The Republican also seeks details about how Comey transmitted the memos to Richman and whether the Justice Department has initiated an investigation into improper disclosure of classified information.