Update: Confirming our earlier report, the Department of Justice has delivered both “redacted and unredacted” versions of the seven “Comey memos” pursuant to a request by Congressional investigators, and right before House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was set to slap the DOJ with a subpoena for copies of the memos.
Recall in January, the FBI’s chief FOIA officer, David Hardy, gave a sworn declaration to Judicial Watch in which he says that all seven of Comey’s memos were classified at the time they were written, and they remain classified.
We have a sworn declaration from David Hardy who is the chief FOIA officer of the FBI that we obtained just in the last few days, and in that sworn declaration, Mr. Hardy says that all of Comey’s memos – all of them, were classified at the time they were written, and they remain classified. –Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch
Farrell points out, Comey mishandled national defense information when he “knowingly and willfully” leaked them to his Law Professor pal at Columbia University, Daniel Richman.
It’s also mishandling of national defense information, which is a crime. So it’s clear that Mr. Comey not only authored those documents, but then knowingly and willfully leaked them to persons unauthorized, which is in and of itself a national security crime. Mr. Comey should have been read his rights back on June 8th when he testified before the Senate.
Given that James Comey ostensibly leaked unredacted information to Richman, the DOJ’s redactions would appear to confirm that Comey did in fact commit the federal crime of leaking classified information.
Comey says he created the memos in order to contemporaneously document his interactions with President Trump – after he says he felt that the President may have tried to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. The former FBI Director said he hoped that by leaking the memos, they would lead to the appointment of a special counsel – which is exactly what happened.
The DOJ letter reads:
This supplements our earlier response to your letter of April 13, 2018, requesting access to memoranda prepared by former FBI Director James B. Comey concerning conversations with President Trump. We are sending similar letters to chairmen of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Judiciary, and the Senate Committee on Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs, who have also requested access to these documents.
As noted in our earlier response, the Department previously allowed certain members to review the memoranda with the understanding that their content would not be further disclosed. In light of the unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure, the Department has consulted the relevant parties and concluded that the release of the memoranda to Congress at this time would not adversely impact any ongoing investigation or other confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch. This decision does not alter the Department’s traditional obligation to protect from public disclosure witness statements and other documents obtained during an ongoing investigation.
Therefore, pursuant to your request, we are providing the requested memoranda in both redacted and unredacted formats for your convenience. Consistent with your request, we are providing an unclassified version of the documents redacted to remove any classified information. The unclassified version of the documents is enclosed. The unredacted documents are classified, and we will provide those in a separate, secure transmittal to the House Security office tomorrow. Members of your committees will be able to view the classified transmittal in the House Security office.
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Faced with the threat of a subpoena, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly ready to hand over copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos detailing his interactions with President Trump, reports Bloomberg as well as CNN Justice Reporter Laura Jarrett.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 19, 2018
The memos – leaked to the New York Times through Comey pal and Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman, were a major catalyst in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
As reported Wednesday by The Hill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was expected to subpoena the Department of Justice as early as this week in order to obtain copies of seven memos Comey created.
The chairman on Wednesday notified the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), that a subpoena is forthcoming. Under Judiciary committee rules, the chairman must consult the ranking member two business days “before issuing any subpoena” — suggesting that the move is imminent.
The order comes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked three powerful House lawmakers — Goodlatte, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — to give him extra time to consult with the “relevant parties” on whether he can make the memos available to them. –The Hill
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seemingly began to stall on the requested document delivery – telling lawmakers on Monday that the Comey memos may be related to an “ongoing investigation,” and that they may “report confidential presidential communications,” meaning that Congressional investigators have a “legal duty to evaluate the consequences of providing access to them.”
Ranking Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) backed Rosenstein’s pushback earlier in the week, calling the GOP’s imminent subpoena as political “theater” which may interfere with Mueller’s investigation.
“The Comey memos are key to the Special Counsel’s work. Pursuant to long-standing Department policy and absent any satisfactory accommodation, the Department of Justice cannot simply hand over evidence that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Nadler said.
“If House Republicans refuse any accommodation short of the Department of Justice handing over custody of these documents —which it cannot do — I fear the Majority will have manufactured an excuse to hold the Deputy Attorney General in contempt of Congress. If they succeed in tarnishing the Deputy Attorney General, perhaps they will have given President Trump the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the Special Counsel’s investigation,” he added.
In a Monday response from Rosenstein, the Deputy AG referenced a 77-year-old opinion of Attorney General Robert Jackson who wrote “all investigative reports are confidential documents of the executive department and that congressional and public access thereto would not be in the public interest,” while pointing to a long list of his predecessors who agreed.
“Investigative reports include leads and suspicions, and sometimes even the statements of malicious or misinformed people. Even though later and more complete reports exonerate the individuals, the use of particular or selected reports might constitute the grossest injustice, and we all know that a correction never catches up with an accusation,” Jackson argued at the time.
Hey @Comey. Just heard that DOJ is ready to send your memos to congress. Perfect timing with the book tour — you can’t hide from the press.
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) April 19, 2018