A report in The Hill claims that government investigators have determined that more than half of the seven memos Comey wrote following his meetings with President Trump contained classified information and that all of them are government property.
If so this would mean that it was illegal for Comey to hold onto the memos after he was sacked from the FBI, and that it was doubly illegal for him to leak this stolen and classified material to the media prior to his Congressional testimony as he admits doing,
I am not able to comment on whether any of the content of the memos was classified. However it is standard in contracts that paperwork created by an employee in the course of his employment belongs to his employer, and it seems that this also a term of contracts signed by people who are employed by the FBI.
The Hill has pointed to the irony of Comey investigating and criticising Hillary Clinton for using a private server whilst illegally taking away classified material himself.
Actually the ironies go further still: Comey claims the Russians delivered the emails they stole from the DNC’s and Podesta’s computers to Wikileaks via ‘cutouts’. Whether the Russians used such cutouts is in fact extremely unlikely and has now been basically denied by Craig Murray, who is in a position to know. However what is indisputable is that when leaking the contents of one of these memos to the media Comey himself used a cutout in the person of a law professor at Columbia University who is a friend of his.
It will be interesting to see whether any action is taken against Comey in relation to what were arguably two quite serious crimes which he looks like he may have committed. I am sure I am not alone in thinking that that is extremely unlikely.
Regardless this episode casts a further unflattering light on Comey’s behaviour. I have previously made known my belief that Comey’s actions have been central in driving the Russiagate case and that in his last months as the FBI’s Director he had become a loose cannon. Here is what I said on the specific question of the memos he created
That Comey’s relations with the President subsequently collapsed in acrimony in light of all this is hardly surprising. Moreover it is clear that Comey could see what was coming, and that within days of the inauguration he was busy preparing his defence for the inevitable falling out with the President he must have known was bound to come.
I do not believe Comey’s claim that it is not his usual practice to make attendance notes of his meetings with senior officials. On the contrary, both as a state official and a lawyer, I am sure Comey makes such attendance notes as a matter of course.
However it is clear that in this case he prepared his attendance notes and circulated them amongst his colleagues in a particular way in order to use them in the battle with the President which he knew was coming. The fact that he selectively leaked quotes from the attendance notes in order to bolster his case before he gave his testimony confirms as much.
This in turn brings me to what is surely the supreme irony of the Russiagate scandal: so far there is no evidence that any of the US citizens being investigated in the Russiagate case have committed any crimes whatsoever.
The same cannot however be said of those who have been accusing them. Not only have they flagrantly broken the law by repeatedly leaking classified material to the media but on one occasion they went even further, using a leak of classified material to end the career and destroy the reputation of President Trump’s first National Security Adviser General Flynn.
Now it turns out that the person responsible for investigating them – FBI Director Comey – has quite probably committed crimes as well.
Whether those being investigated in the Russiagate case are in any mood to savour this irony is another matter.