Critics of ousted FBI Director James Comey are alleging that he broke his own department's rules when he shared memos about his conversations with President Donald Trump with a longtime friend who released portions of the memos to the media.
The Hill reported Sunday night that sources familiar with the documents said that more than half of the personal memos have been deemed to contain material categorized as "secret" or "confidential." Comey's decision to share them outside the agency, they said, could potentially violate the very security protocols Comey criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for breaking.
In his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said that he considered the memos to be personal documents, not agency property. He said that he passed one of them to his friend Columbia University law professor Ben Wittes in hopes that Wittes would share the contents with the media and spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump's ties to Russia and his attempts to quash the investigation into them.
When pressed during his testimony as to whether he felt the memos were his to share and not agency property, Comey replied, "I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”
Comey shared seven documents with Senate investigators and some within the FBI are saying that the former director broke the law. Of the seven, the FBI said it has concerns that four of them contain sensitive material.
"In order to make an assessment," the Hill said, "congressional investigators will have to tackle key questions, such as:
- Where and how were the memos were created, such as whether they were written on an insecure computer or notepad.
- Where and how the memos were stored, such as inside his home, his briefcase or an insecure laptop.
- Were any memos shown to private individuals without a security clearance and did those memos contain any classified information
- When was it determined by the government that the memos contained classified information, before Comey took them and shared one or after."