By: Alex Pappas
The White House on Wednesday laid out its most detailed case yet for why the Department of Justice should consider prosecuting former FBI director James Comey, calling it a clear violation of federal law to leak FBI memos to the press like Comey allegedly did.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, pointed to Comey’s acknowledgement during a June congressional hearing that he authorized the leaking of a memo about his conversations with the president to The New York Times.
“The memos that Comey leaked were created on a FBI computer while he was the director,” Sanders said during Wednesday’s briefing. “He claims they were private property. They clearly follow the protocol of an official FBI document.”
Sanders added, “Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case, regardless of classification, violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employee agreement and non-disclosure agreement all personnel must sign. I think that’s pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation.”
Comey was fired by Trump in May amid tensions over the Russia probe. After he was fired, Comey had a friend leak his notes to the press about his recollection of interactions with the president. In the notes, Comey said the president encouraged him to end the investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Back in July, though, the Comey friend – Columbia University professor Daniel Richman – stressed that none of the memos he had were marked classified at the time. Further, he explained that the “substance” of one memo was given to the press but not the physical document.
Sanders has been hammering Comey all week, arguing the Department of Justice should consider prosecuting him for his actions. Still, Sanders emphasizes it’s up to prosecutors -- and not the White House -- to decide “whether or not something is illegal or not.”
“That’s not up to me decide,” Sanders said.
On Tuesday, Sanders said the former FBI director “politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses.”
That’s in reference to new allegations Comey drafted an “exoneration statement” for Clinton weeks before interviewing her during the investigation into her email server.