Did James Comey leak classified information to the press?
There is absolutely no evidence or reporting that he did. But that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from making the claim on Twitter.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey did admit that he gave a memo he had written summarizing a meeting he had with President Trump to a friend and asked him to share it with a reporter.
The Hill reported this morning, citing “officials familiar with the documents,” that “more than half” of the memos Comey created summarizing his meetings with Trump contained classified information.
According to The Hill, there were seven memos produced by Comey about his meetings with Trump and four of them contained classified information. Comey, according to his testimony, gave one to the press. Was it one of the memos that contained classified info? The Hill article does not say that it was.
But Comey, as the Washington Post notes, made clear in his Senate testimony that the memo he gave to the press, detailing his February 14th meeting with Trump, was specifically written to exclude classified information.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?
Comey: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.
Comey: It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.
The Hill report ignores this testimony and repeatedly suggests — without explicitly alleging it — that Comey leaked classified information, going into details on the potential legal violations and consequences.
The journey from the misleading Hill report to Trump’s tweet was assisted by Fox & Friends, which Trump watches religiously.
Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information https://t.co/Hkg4cAb6o9
The “report” did not make that accusation against Comey — although clearly that was the intention of the article.
The article was written by John Solomon, a top executive with Sinclair Media, which attracted controversy by making a deal with the Trump campaign to secure more access in exchange for more favorable, “straighter” coverage.
How Trump took a misleading story on James Comey and turned it into a total fabrication was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
To much fanfare, Donald Trump announced on November 30 that he would hold a press conference on December 15 to discuss how he would “be leaving my great business in total.”
I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my ...
great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to ....
do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..
Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!
That press conference has now been postponed until at least January. Trump officials provided no real explanation for the postponement, other than Trump’s busy schedule.
The delay means that the Electoral College will vote — and likely officially make Trump the next president — before Trump provides any information about how he plans to mitigate his business conflicts.
In his public statements, Trump has indicated that he plans on retaining full ownership over his businesses, while turning over day-to-day management to his adult children. From an ethical and legal perspective, however, this arrangement with his children would be meaningless.
Trump, if he retains ownership of his businesses, would receive a stream of payments from foreign governments — which is a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, the Chief Ethics Counsels for George W. Bush and Barack Obama respectively, have said that the only way for Trump to avoid violating the Constitution is to sell his business in total and to put the proceeds in a blind trust.
The view that total divestment is the only way to avoid an illegal conflict has also endorsed by the Office of Government Ethics.
Trump is actively seeking money from foreign governments, including hosting a party encouraging diplomats to stay at his new D.C. hotel. He’s blurred the line between his business and his administration, naming three of his children to the transition team.
Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s most respected Constitutional scholars, believes that, absent total divestment, the Electoral College should reject Trump. Painter and Eisen agree.
Now, the Electoral College will vote without knowing anything about Trump’s plans for his businesses.
In the meantime, Trump’s substance-free tweets have helped him burn two weeks. Anytime the transition was asked about conflicts, it used the upcoming press conference to deflect the issue.
The tweets have also generated a slew of positive, inaccurate headlines.
Trump has given no indication he will “leave” or “quit” his business. From a legal and ethical perspective, the key issue is ownership, not management.
Trump’s decision to delay the press conference will appear on page A20 of tomorrow’s New York Times.
The constitutional prohibition against payments from foreign governments to a president is not frivolous. The founders were attempting to ensure that a president’s loyalty would be to the American people alone.
Trump is eager to change the subject, announcing on Twitter that he would name his choice for Secretary of State on Tuesday.
I will be making my announcement on the next Secretary of State tomorrow morning.
No matter whom Trump chooses for Secretary of State, it will not resolve his unconstitutional conflicts of interest. Members of the Electoral College will now have to exercise their vote without any idea of Trump’s plans.
Trump postpones press conference on business conflicts until after Electoral College meets was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.