The Department of Justice has declined to prosecute fired FBI Director James Comey for leaking classified information after the matter was referred by the DOJ inspector general, according to Fox News.
Comey, then at the helm of the FBI, wrote several memos detailing his personal interactions with President Donald Trump and leaked four of them to Daniel Richman, a Columbia University Law professor who is also his attorney. Richman then passed the documents on to the New York Times, the fired FBI head testified before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in June 2017. Of the seven memos that Comey gave to congressional investigators in April of 2018, eight of the 15 pages were redacted due to classified exceptions. Comey told the Senate panel that he leaked the memos following his May 2017 termination as to spur the appointment of a special counsel. Robert Mueller was later appointed to lead the investigation of now-debunked collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey told lawmakers.
“I was worried that the media was camping at the end of my driveway, my wife and I were going away,” he added. “I was worried it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach if it was I who gave it to the media, so I asked my friend to.”
Upon review of the documents, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred Comey for criminal prosecution.
“[O]ne of the key factors leading to the DOJ declining to prosecute apparently was the fact that the two memos were labeled “confidential” after he set in motion the chain of events that led to them ending up with the press,” Fox News reports. “The report related to Comey’s leaks is separate from Horowitz’s review of alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses. That report’s release is delayed, according to sources, due to the potential components of Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into alleged improper government surveillance.”
“Everyone at the DOJ involved in the decision said it wasn’t a close call,” an unnamed official told the news outlet. “They all thought this could not be prosecuted.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Wednesday that he would find it “stunning” if Attorney General William Barr opted against prosecuting Comey for leaking classified information.
“If Bill Barr decided not to prosecute on disclosing the memos, I accept his judgment. I’ve known him for 20 years,” Graham told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity.
“I want him to do what he thinks is right by the law and not prosecute anybody if you don’t think the case is there because somebody else got mistreated is no reason to continue that practice,” he added. “If it’s true, and we will know pretty soon, it’s stunning, beyond stunning.”
Comey maintains passing the memos to his lawyer does not constitute leaking classified information.
“I didn’t consider it part of an FBI file,” Comey previously told Fox News Channel host Bret Baier. “It was my personal aide-memoire.”
“I always thought of it as mine,” he added.