Grassley: Memos Comey Gave to His Friend to Leak to Media Were Likely Classified

Posted: Jan 04, 2018 11:53 AM
Grassley: Memos Comey Gave to His Friend to Leak to Media Were Likely Classified

Last June former FBI Director James Comey admitted during congressional testimony he leaked memos to a friend, who then gave them to the New York Times for a story. Those memos were about conversations between Comey and President Trump, which he wrote after a meeting at Trump Tower. 

"I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn't dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversations, might be a tape, my judgement was that I needed to get that out into the public square and so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter," Comey said. "I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but asked him to, because I thought that it might prompt the appointment of a Special Counsel. I asked a close friend of mine to do that."

But according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the content of those memos was classified. 

"After a review of the seven memoranda created by former Director Comey, it is now clear that four are marked classified at various levels of sensitivity. Former Director Comey reportedly provided copies of four memos to Columbia Law School Professor Alan Richman. If true, that would mean at least one disclosed memo contained information now-marked classified," Grassley's office released. 

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Grassley is asking for clarification about the handling of the memos and is demanding to know if the classified versions were given to Comey's friend, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, to leak to the media. 

"Of the seven memos, four are marked classified at the 'SECRET' or 'CONFIDENTIAL' levels. Only three did not contain classified information. FBI personnel refused to answer factual questions during the document reviews, including questions about the chain of custody of the documents I was reviewing, the date that they were marked classified, and who marked them as classified," the letter states. "According to press reports, Professor Daniel Richman of Columbia Law School stated that Mr. Comey provided him four of the seven memoranda and encouraged him to 'detail [Comey’s] memos to the press.' If it’s true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information. Professor Richman later read a portion of one of the memos to a New York Times reporter."

Richman does not have a security clearance. Grassley wants to know if he inappropriately handled classified information, which memos Comey gave him and whether he still has them. 

"Has the Justice Department or FBI in fact determined that any of the memoranda Mr. Comey sent Professor Richman contained classified information? If so, what steps were taken to retrieve and safeguard the information?" he asks. 

Richman has refused to inform the Committee which memos he received from Comey, but is reportedly working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his probe.