Comey ad­mits to ar­rang­ing for leaks of Trump chat

Hoped to spur a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor

The Washington Times Daily - - POL­I­TICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey or­ches­trated the leak of de­tails from memos of his con­ver­sa­tions with Pres­i­dent Trump, he ad­mit­ted to Con­gress on Thurs­day, say­ing he had hoped it would spur the Jus­tice De­part­ment to an­nounce an in­de­pen­dent pros­e­cu­tor to probe the Trump op­er­a­tion.

Mr. Comey said he used a law pro­fes­sor friend at Columbia Uni­ver­sity as a go-be­tween to share in­for­ma­tion with The New York Times. He didn’t name the pro­fes­sor, but said he wanted to get in­for­ma­tion out af­ter Mr. Trump took to Twit­ter to dis­pute that he had asked the FBI to let for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn off the hook.

“I asked him to, be­cause I thought that might prompt the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel. And so I asked a close friend of mine to do it,” Mr. Comey tes­ti­fied.

The rev­e­la­tion was among the most strik­ing of the day for Mr. Comey, who spent 21⁄2 hours an­swer­ing ques­tions pub­licly to the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

The for­mer di­rec­tor said he felt com­pelled to take notes of his in­ter­ac­tions with Mr. Trump be­cause he was afraid the pres­i­dent would “lie” about them.

He de­cided to leak the con­tents of the memos af­ter his fir­ing to com­bat Mr. Trump’s tweet on May 12, where the pres­i­dent warned that Mr. Comey “bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions be­fore he starts leak­ing to the press.”

Mr. Comey said he woke up in the mid­dle of the night days later and fig­ured he needed to get his ver­sion out.

The ad­mis­sion opened Mr. Comey up to at­tacks from Trump de­fend­ers who said it showed the for­mer FBI di­rec­tor was far from a neu­tral in­ves­ti­ga­tor, and in­stead had been try­ing to shape out­comes.

Trump lawyer Marc Ka­sowitz said the leaks were “unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sures” of “priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tions” with the pres­i­dent.

“We will leave it to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties to de­ter­mine whether these leaks should be in­ves­ti­gated,” the lawyer said.

The leak ad­mis­sion was strik­ing for Mr. Comey, who has in the past been crit­i­cal of anony­mous leaks of in­for­ma­tion the leak­ers weren’t au­tho­rized to share.

Sen. Roy Blunt told Mr. Comey dur­ing the hear­ing that his de­ci­sion to leak sounded like a cop-out.

“What you do there is cre­ate a source close to the for­mer di­rec­tor of the FBI, as op­posed to just tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity your­self,” the Mis­souri Repub­li­can said.

Mr. Comey, dur­ing his tes­ti­mony, said he specif­i­cally wrote one of his memos in an un­clas­si­fied way so it would be avail­able to be used or dis­cussed in any in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee is seek­ing copies of the memos. Mr. Comey said he’s turned his memos to the spe­cial coun­sel that has since been ap­pointed — though he said it’s pos­si­ble the law pro­fes­sor still has copies.

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