The top Department of Justice watchdog is investigating issues surrounding the classified information contained in two memos that former FBI Director James Comey leaked to his friend, sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
At least two of the memos Comey sent to his friend, Daniel Richman, contained classified information, the sources say. Comey redacted parts of one memo before he handed it to his friend. The other memo was classified “confidential” after Comey was fired from the FBI.
The memos contain Comey’s recollections about his meetings with Trump.
The inspector general’s scrutiny of Comey comes at the same time as his former top deputy, Andrew McCabe, is under a separate investigation by the top prosecutor in Washington. The pair has traded barbs over the past few days, accusing each other of lying.
Comey has claimed that he wrote the notes as a “private citizen.” The White House has countered that he wrote the memos on an FBI computer and the language follows the protocol of an FBI document.
“Leaking on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the privacy act, standard FBI employment agreement, and non-disclosure agreement [that] all personnel must sign. I think that’s pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at a briefing in September last year.
As FBI director, Comey had the authority to determine classification, but he leaked the memos after he had already been fired.
Comey said that his intention in leaking the documents was to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to continue the investigation into Russian election meddling. His move succeeded when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to lead the special counsel probe.
In one memo describing a January 2017 meeting with Trump, Comey wrote that he considered the information within “SECRET.”
“I am not sure of the proper classification here,” Comey wrote. “So have chosen SECRET. Please let me know if it should be higher or lower than that.”
In January this year, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had determined that at least one of the memos Comey leaked was classified and called on the Justice Department to investigate.
Reports that Comey’s memos contained classified information surfaced as early as July 2017. Trump blasted the leak when the news surfaced.
“James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media,” Trump wrote on Twitter on July 10. “That is so illegal!”
On Thursday, April 19, when the memos were released, Trump renewed his criticism.
“James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council? Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act?” Trump wrote. “Really, does everybody know what that means?”
Recommended Video: President Donald Trump’s Weekly Address, April 13, 2018