Did Comey Break the Law With His Leaked Memos?
Ex-FBI Director James Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month to testify, among other things, about the seven memos he wrote about nine conversations he had with President Trump.
During the June 8th hearing, Comey admitting to “leaking” one of the memos to the press through a friend.
Trump has criticized this behavior as “so illegal.”
When asked whether he considered the memos to be government documents, Comey said that he did not. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversations with the President. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”
Most of Comey’s memos have since been labeled “classified,” and all have been deemed “government documents.” It is believed that only four of the memos were marked “secret” or “confidential” at the time of writing.
“This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over,” reports The Hill.
Federal regulations don’t jibe with this. As FBI Director James Comey is a designated “classifying authority” especially with regard to documents he generated himself. If he marked the memos as “classified on his own authority. He also has the right to declare them “unclassified” on his own authority, and indeed it is his responsibility to do so when that is necessary. Whether or not he is sincere in his judgment is between him and his conscience, but the law is on his side here.
The counterargument could be according to FBI rules, agents are forbidden from releasing classified information without written permission. On top of that, all records created during official duties are considered “government property.”
Further questions to take into account:
• As director, did Comey sign the same agreements as other agents?
• Were the memos deemed classified when Comey wrote them?
The memos were in Comey’s possession when he was fired from the FBI, which left him in the position to leak information to the media. But Comey has since handed the memos over to Robert Mueller, the legendary former FBI chief who has been called in to head the Russia investigation.
In the meantime, Comey friend Daniel Richman (the professor who helped him share information with the press) is insisting that the information he received was not marked as classified.
The information provided to the press wasn’t even a copy of the memo, says Richman, but the “substance” of one of the memos. “That was not classified at the time, and remains unclassified.”