President Donald Trump is accusing the former FBI director he fired of illegally leaking classified information to the media -- without offering any evidence for the allegation.
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“James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” Trump tweeted this morning.
His outright accusation without evidence today went further than he’s gone before with his previous implication that Comey may have broken the law.
Comey leaks “will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal?” Trump tweeted on June 11.
The former FBI chief testified last month that he did not leak classified information in sharing memos documenting his meetings with Trump.
As head of the FBI, Comey wrote several memos on his alleged interactions with the president containing information that was classified and unclassified. After a month he was fired by Trump, Comey testified on Capitol Hill that the memo he shared with a close friend, with the intent of it being publicly released, did not contain classified information.
"My judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square,” Comey said before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8. “So I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.”
Comey’s memo detailed the Feb. 14 meeting he had with Trump, in which Comey said the president allegedly asked him to let the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn go. Trump denies he asked Comey for this request.
Comey testified that he thought his conversation with the president was essential to the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s hacking in the U.S. election, and he took special care to write his memo in a specific way so it did not contain classified information.
"I remember thinking this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work,” Comey said of the alleged Feb. 14 conversation with Trump. “I need to document it and preserve it in a way that this committee gets this.”
Comey added, "My thinking was if I write it in such a way that I don't include anything that would trigger a classification that will make it easier for us to discuss within the FBI and the government and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us."
The former FBI director, who had years of three decades of law enforcement experience, said that “sometimes when things are classified, it tangles them up” and can be difficult to share with an “investigative team.”
Not all the memos that Comey wrote were written in a way that could prevent the memos from being designated as classified. According to Comey, his classified memos weren’t shared with the public. If his classified memos were shared, the memos were written in a proper manner and shared only with other members of the FBI who would be privy to that information.
“On a few of the occasions I wrote -- I sent emails to my chief of staff or others on some of the brief phone conversations that I recall -- the first one was a classified briefing. Though it wasn’t in a [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility], it was in a conference room at Trump Tower. It was a classified briefing so I wrote that on a classified device. The one I started typing in the car, that was a classified laptop that I started to work on.”
Comey’s classified memos of his conversations with the president are now with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
Trump’s tweet this morning about Comey comes as his son is facing questions about a meeting he had during the campaign with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.