While testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, Comey claimed that the now-infamous memos he made after meeting with Trump were unclassified, but that one or two may have contained classified information.
However, recording that information may be against FBI policy. Additionally, according to several unnamed sources who spoke with the Hill, Comey’s memos contained information that was marked “classified” or “secret.” Comey and the FBI recently shared the memos with members of Congress as part of congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
When pressed by Sen. Roy Blount (R-Mo.) on whether the memos were “government documents,” Comey testified that they were not, calling them the personal recordings of a private citizen.
Comey told Congress that he gave one memo to a Columbia law professor, later identified as Daniel Richman, who read the contents of that memo to a New York Times reporter. It is not clear whether the memo Richman read to the Times, which detailed a private conversation during which Trump allegedly asked Comey to “let go” the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The day before the conversation, Flynn resigned after reports revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence regarding the nature of his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Comey later detailed portions of the memos in his written testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
If the memo Comey provided to Richman indeed included information he wasn’t authorized to disclose, that could violate federal law.
Not just illegal, though. “So illegal,” according to the president.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
Trump also tweeted out a link to a Fox & Friends segment on Comey, where they claim Comey put “our national security at risk.”
Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information pic.twitter.com/Hkg4cAb6o9— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 10, 2017
Trump also shared a video of Fox News’ newest talking head and former House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who said Comey initially was hesitant to share his memos with him, which he considered very telling.
The Hill’s sources say Comey recently shared seven of the nine memos he wrote about his encounters with Trump, and four of them contained markings indicating they contained information that was either “secret” or “classified.”
The report states that Congress has been investigating whether Comey violated Federal Bureau of Investigation policy by recording classified information outside of the bureau. It is not clear whether he could be in trouble for sharing the contents of a memo with the Times. It is not mentioned if any information was redacted when Comey passed along the memo.
Regardless, FBI policy states the members of the bureau “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”
Update 2:53pm CT, July 10: Daniel Richman, the law professor who shared the contents of a Comey memo with the Times, tells CNN that Comey did not give him any memos marked ‘classified.’
“No memo was given to me that was marked ‘classified,’” Richman said. “No memo was passed on to the Times.”