Former FBI director James Comey made a splash this year when he released personal memos of his private meetings with President Trump shortly after being fired from his position.
In the latest bombshell, more than half of the famous Trump “memos” he had written and shared with friends were deemed to contain classified information, violating security protocol and FBI rules. (via The Hill)
Comey testified in June that he shared these memos with a friend, a lawyer at Columbia University, whom he asked to leak the information to the news media in an attempt to increase pressure for appointing a special prosecutor on the Russia-Trump affair after he was fired.
“So you didn’t consider your memory or your sense of that conversation to be a government document, you considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted through a friend?” asked Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) back during Comey’s hearing.
Before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former FBI director insisted that he believed his personal memos were unclassified. “My view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversation was my recollection recorded,” he said.
Yet the FBI later claimed that all seven of the memos Comey wrote were deemed to be government documents, with four of them having clear markings to show they contained classified information at secret or confidential levels.
FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information without written permission and states that, “Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI…could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy…or violate federal law.” (via the Federal Bureau of Investigation)
These leaked memos do exactly what he and all other FBI agents pledged they would never do — release classified information. The FBI should be encouraged to looked into Comey’s handling of this matter a lot closer.
Ironically, this issue was a similar problem that plagued Hillary Clinton, who while serving as Secretary of State under the Obama administration, used a private email server that contained classified material. This investigation by the FBI was completed while Comey was still the director of the FBI.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the same thing, “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 director of the entire bureau. 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.” (via Fox News)
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The President called the former director out on Twitter, stating, “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!”
It seems that James Comey didn’t learn from Mrs. Clinton’s example, and may end up having to learn the hard way because of it. Leaking classified information is always wrong, but it’s especially problematic if it’s done to further a personal political agenda. It is difficult to know Comey’s true intentions or to determine what will happen here, but the situation just got a lot more interesting.