Former FBI Director James Comey leaked his memos to the press shortly after he was fired by President Trump, hoping it would lead to a special counsel. The New York Times first reported the memos on May 16.
According to Comey, he gave the memos to “a close friend” so the friend would leak the contents of the memo to the press. The memo was written by Comey to document a meeting with the president at the Oval Office.
Comey explained to the committee:
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
Comey added that he felt the need to act about the memos after the president tweeted a cryptic threat. Trump wrote that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”
The former FBI director wrote in the memo that the president asked him to drop the Flynn investigation. Two days after the memo was leaked, the Justice Department appointed former FBI director Bob Mueller as special counsel.
While Comey didn’t name his friend, reporters speculated the person to be Daniel Richman. Richman is a professor at Columbia Law school and a former federal prosecutor.
Comey initially kept quiet about the Oval Office meeting. Senior FBI leadership felt that there was no way to prove Comey’s account. However, Comey woke up a few days after Trump’s tweet with the realization that there might actually be tapes of the conversation.
He told senators, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
Comey added that “as a private citizen I thought it important to share [the memo].” The former FBI director also stated that he created the memo because he didn’t trust Trump to tell the truth.
James Comey’s public testimony to the SIC has ended. The classified hearing will take place later today.