FORMER FBI DIRECTOR ADMITS TO LEAKING INFORMATION
by Sharon Rondeau
The press conference will follow a business meeting with the two leaders and will take place in the Rose Garden at the White House.
Some have observed that Trump’s Twitter feed was completely quiet on Thursday as Comey testified to the committee’s 15 members. Trump is now well-known for communicating directly with the American people on the social-media platform in what some say is injurious to his cause and which others praise.
Comey’s opening statement included that he believed Trump had told “lies” relating to both the FBI and himself. He later described himself as not “strong” enough to have taken definitive action when Trump allegedly said or did something which made him uncomfortable.
At 11:30 on Friday, Trump spoke at the Department of Transportation (DOT) with state transportation directors about improving America’s infrastructure, on which he has been focusing all week.
Following Comey’s testimony, Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, gave brief remarks in which he refuted some of Comey’s claims on Trump’s part and emphasized that Comey had admitted to releasing “privileged” information through an acquaintance to The New York Times.
Kasowitz also said that he would “leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether this [sic] leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated.”
On Friday morning, Trump broke his silence, tweeting, “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication, and WOW, Comey is a leaker!”
Kasowitz, who has handled personal matters for Trump for a number of years, was reportedly retained to speak to ongoing investigations into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections last fall and alleged improper connections between Trump campaign aides and Moscow.
When Trump fired Comey on May 9, he stated in his dismissal letter to Comey that Comey had told him on three occasions that he personally was not the subject of a “Russia” investigation, a claim Comey affirmed in prepared commentary released on Wednesday.
Shortly before midnight on Thursday and into the early morning hours of Friday, Fox News reported that Kasowitz had stated his intention to file a complaint with the Justice Department’s Inspector General and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Attorney pundits on both Thursday night and Friday morning opined that Comey might have committed a crime in releasing alleged “memos” documenting his conversations with Trump while still serving as FBI director, which he did until his firing on May 9.
Some commentators speculated that Comey’s provision of a memo to a “good friend” to provide to the press was likely not the first time Comey had released government information in that way.
On Friday, The Washington Post’s Philip Bump said that Kasowitz “conflated” the terms “selective’ with ‘illegal’ and ‘classified’ with ‘privileged,’” which Bump said was “not anything illegal.”
However, in 2003, a DEA employee was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison for “giving unclassified information to the The (London) Times.“
“U.S. Attorney William Duffey, Jr. told reporters that the prosecution ‘stands as a warning’ to any federal employees who might consider providing sensitive but unclassified information to anyone, including journalists, outside of the federal government. A statement from Duffey’s office attributed the sentence to a violation of [defendant] Randel’s employment agreement,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wrote at the time.
According to a blog post by constitutional attorney and legal scholar Jonathan Turley, “Besides being subject to Nondisclosure Agreements, Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and nonclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified (though it seems odd that it would not be classified even on the confidential level), there is 18 U.S.C. § 641 which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”
Later on Friday, Fox News’s Kevin Corke reported that Kasowitz’s respective complaints might be expected to be filed next week.
In a second tweet on Friday morning, Trump thanked Fox’s morning program, Fox & Friends, “and so many others,” for what he said was “great reporting,” presumably on the events of the last 24 hours.
Over many years and while still a businessman as well as more recently, Trump has described the mainstream press as the purveyors of “fake news” and unfair coverage of him, specifically.
To this writer, it appeared that the mainstream press was slow to acknowledge the ramifications of Comey’s admission to having leaked documents created during government service which Comey might not have had legal authority to take or possess once terminated. On May 3, Comey testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had not been a source of “leaks” to the press nor authorized leaks through another party.
The presser can be watched live here.