Former FBI director James Comey is being fingered in a Senate document for obtaining four “classified” FBI memos and transferring them to Columbia University professor Daniel Richman.
The memoranda provided to the Law School professor number seven in total, but four were “marked classified at various levels of sensitivity.” The information in the leaked documents thus became publicized in a series of New York Times reports.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a letter with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office making the complaint.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is today raising questions about when the memos memorializing interactions between former FBI Director James Comey and President Trump were classified and the chain of custody for the classified memos.
After a review of the seven memoranda created by former Director Comey, it is now clear that four are marked classified at various levels of sensitivity. Former Director Comey reportedly provided copies of four memos to Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman. If true, that would mean at least one disclosed memo contained information now-marked classified.
In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Grassley asks about the chain of custody of the memos, when they were marked classified and by whom. Grassley also asks what steps the Justice Department has taken to determine if any classified information was provided to Professor Richman and whether such a disclosure violated department rules or policy.
The Senator’s website then provided the letter to Rosenstein’s office asking a series of questions about Comey leaking the classified FBI documents. Richman leaked Comey memos and also provided numerous favorable comments about Comey in the New York Times, which referred to him as “a longtime confidant and friend of Mr. Comey’s.”
“Jim sees his role as apolitical and independent,” Richman said, as quoted in a feature piece about Comey. “The F.B.I. director, even as he reports to the attorney general, often has to stand apart from his boss.”
Another New York Times story that quoted Richman focused on the FBI’s discovery in November 2016 of documents, several of them classified, transferred from Clinton aide Huma Abedin to her husband and former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The FBI’s seizure and investigation of the laptop made waves ahead of the presidential election and Richman defended Comey.
“Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” Richman said. “If the FBI director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price.”
That investigation was tidily wrapped up within a week and was directed by Peter Strzok, who interviewed Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin. Over a year later, more classified emails were uncovered due to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests; they include heavily redacted documents, which are apparently not classified enough to warrant Abedin’s prosecution.
It is unclear if James Comey’s reported leaks rise to the level of a federal crime, or if all of the memos were indeed unclassified. However, even if he were given immunity in conjunction with the Mueller investigation, the timeline of Comey’s correspondence with Richman extends before the national election.