Politics

Trump Tweets Comey Acted Illegally With Memo Leak

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Former FBI Director James ComeyFormer FBI Director James Comey

President Donald Trump said former FBI Director James Comey was acting illegally when he leaked the contents of their private conversations to the media.

The president was responding to a new report from the Hill that asserts over half of the memos Comey wrote on his conversations with Trump contained classified information, according to Politico. 

The former FBI director meticulously recorded his private conversations with Trump, a number of which were specifically related to the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

After he was fired, Comey asked a lawyer friend from Columbia University to leak the documents to the news media, hoping that it would pressure the government into naming a special prosecutor in the Russia investigation.

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"James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media," Trump tweeted July 10. "That is so illegal!" 

During his testimony, Comey received criticism from Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who also believed that the former FBI director was acting illegally by releasing the memos, The Hill reports. Comey responded, saying the memos were personal documents -- not government -- and he had every right to leak them to the press. He says teh memos leaked to the press contained no classified information whatsoever.

"I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president," said Comey. "As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out."

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When seven of the nine memos were shown in Congress, the FBI proclaimed them to be government documents. A source close to the matter also confirmed that four memos had clear markings indicating that they contained "secret" or "confidential" information. 

The FBI forbids any agent from releasing classified information to the public without prior written consent. Since the agency considers the memos to be government documents, it's possible that Comey could face repercussions. A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment. 

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway appeared on "Fox & Friends" to discuss the new report, which she called an "incredible bombshell."

"The boy scout, choir boy defense doesn't hold up here because if it contains classified information, he is apparently violating, at the very least, what all FBI members sign -- they sign a document saying you will not do something like this. He was the director of the entire bureau," she said, according to Fox News. "The irony to me, anyway ... is that this is exactly the problem that Hillary Clinton had with her illegal server -- the handling of classified and confidential information that Jim Comey was meant to investigate, if not prosecute." 

Conway also took issue with the fact that Comey admitted under oath that he leaked the document hoping to trigger the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Russia case.

"If people go back and listen to him under oath, he is admitting what his intent was," she said. "You couple that with the fact that this was classified information, I think this is what the story should be -- not all this nonsense about Russian collusion and what not." 

Sources: Politico, The Hill, Fox News / Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation/ FlickrGetty via Business Insider, Rich Girard/Flickr

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