Once again, the former FBI Director James Comey is in the spotlight. However, this time he seems to be in really hot water, as he may have leaked at least one classified memo to a friend soon after he was fired by President Donald Trump.
This delicate suggestion was made by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, who wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein yesterday demanding answers about the handling of memos that the former FBI Director wrote following his conversations with Trump.
The chairman noted that he and his staff recently reviewed seven memos that James Comey wrote after his meeting with the president. Apparently, four of those contained information classified as “SECRET” or “CONFIDENTIAL.”
Additionally, Grassley pointed to past reporting that the former FBI Director gave four memos of his conversations with the president to a friend named Daniel Richman. Several reports assured this man is a Columbia law professor.
According to Grassley, if it ends up being true that Richman had four of the seven memos, it would appear that least one memo that Comey gave to him contained classified information. After all, the chairman pointed out that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed had confidential material.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing back in June, the former FBI Director acknowledged that he gave memos to a friend after he was fired by Trump on May 9. This friend was identified as Richman, who Comey provided with instructions to give one of these documents to the press.
Believe it or not, the former FBI Director even admitted that his main goal with this leak was to force the creation of a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. Basically, the political mayhem that the Mueller´s investigation is creating in Washington started with this move.
Comey testified that he asked “a friend of mine” to share the content of the document with a journalist. In addition, he explained he didn’t do it for himself for a variety of reasons which he didn’t reveal. Finally, he acknowledged that he asked his friend to take that step since he thought “that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
According to several reports, the memo that Comey instructed Richman to leak to the press memorialized a conversation that the former FBI Director had with the president on February 14, 2017. This conversation took place just a day after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired from that position.
In that memo –which Comey claimed was unclassified- he wrote that the president told him of the Bureau´s investigation into Flynn: “I hope you can let this go.” Naturally, the mainstream media took these words as the main evidence of obstruction of justice, something that many legal analysts such as Alan Dershowitz discredited in many opportunities.
Apparently, Richman read sections of that document to New York Times reporter. Soon after a story was published on the matter, Rosenstein decided to appoint Robert Mueller to serve as the special counsel in the investigation.
Eventually, Richman told Fox News that he received four memos from Comey, but he assured that these documents did not gear classification markings. Richman claimed that no memos were given to any media outlet, and no memos were classified at the time he received them.
In his letter, Grassley asserted that the FBI and DOJ have failed to provide crucial details about the memos and how they were handled. The chairman said that during a recent review of these documents, which were held in a secure facility, personnel of the Bureau “refused” to answer certain questions regarding the chain of custody of the memos, the exact dates on which they were deemed classified, and the person who made those determinations.
It would appear that at least one memo former FBI director Comey gave Professor Richman to leak to the NYT contained classified information. @ChuckGrassley letter today to the DOJ regarding the classification of the Comey Memos given to Richman to leak. https://t.co/F2S3cpEP50 pic.twitter.com/b1u0HPDN5n
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) January 4, 2018
In his letter, the Chairman asked Rosenstein to clarify whether the FBI or DOJ have determined whether any of the documents that Comey sent to his friend contained classified information, and which of these seven documents had been provided to the Columbia law professor.
Additionally, Grassley is inquiring when this man received the documents and whether any had classification marking on them at the time they were exchanged. The chairman also seeks details about how the former FBI Director transmitted the documents to his friend and whether the DOJ has initiated an investigation into improper disclosure of classified information.
Given this whole situation, it seems that James Comey is now in the hot seat.
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