President Trump began his first day back in Washington following the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany accusing former FBI Director James Comey of illegally leaking classified information based on a segment on Fox News. The segment from Fox News cited a report from the Hill about the memos Comey wrote documenting his meetings with President Trump before he was fired back in May. The Hill report states that Comey prepared seven memos to document his conversations with the President and that four of the seven memos contained “secret” or “confidential” information. The Fox News report allegedly mischaracterized the report from the Hill by stating that the Comey memos leaked to the media contained top secret information.
In reality, the memo Comey gave to his friend to leak to the press documented the February 14th meeting between Comey and the President and contained no classified material. Comey was asked about that particular memo by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) during his testimony on June 8th before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator Warner commented that it was interesting how Comey affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified with the thinking that it would one day come to light. Comey responded that at the time he thought it was important to document the meeting and to write the memo in an unclassified way because “sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them [the Committee] up.”
Regardless, President Trump retweeted the Fox News report and followed it up with a tweet of his own saying “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” President Trump’s tweet was followed up by adviser Kellyanne Conway appearing on Good Morning America and stating that the big bombshell of the day was the revelation that Comey disclosed classified information. While the Fox News report may have been misleading, it is not to say that Comey’s disclosure comes without concern as FBI agents typically sign agreements prohibiting unauthorized disclosure of certain types of material, and according the Hill report, the FBI considers Comey’s memos to be government documents not personal memos as Comey asserted in his testimony. It remains to be seen what repercussions if any Comey could face for his disclosure.
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