One of the negative features of our daily double/triple/quadruple media outrage cycle is that many people lose the context and history in which these events occur.
There was a lot of heavy breathing from the media this week after it was leaked that a grand jury had been impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller — just one of many illegal hostile leaks that have emerged from inside the administration targeting President Trump.
The person tasked with investigating those leaks — until he was fired — was FBI Director James Comey.
But it bears reminding that the only reason why a special counsel was appointed was that Comey himself illegally leaked memos of his conversations with the president to the media for the purpose of having a special counsel appointed days after he was fired.
Don’t take my word for it. Here is Comey testifying on June 8 in response to questioning by Sen. Susan Collins that he leaked the memo of his conversations with the president specifically to provoke the appointment of a special counsel (beginning ~1:48):
Collins: Did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the Department of Justice?
Collins: And to whom did you show copies?
Comey: The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. And so 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. So I asked a close friend of mine to do it.
Collins: And was that Mr. [Benjamin] Wittes?
Comey: No. No.
Collins: Who was that?
Comey: A good friend of mine who’s a professor at Columbia law school.
Comey’s friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman, later admitted that he was the conduit for Comey’s leak.
Comey’s defenders claim that there was nothing improper or illegal because the memos were his private property and he was free to leak them. That explanation doesn’t quite fly.
As Turley notes, whether the information was classified or not, anyone leaving government service — including Comey — would have been required to submit the memos to the Justice Department for a classification review before releasing them to the media. Comey didn’t.
In fact, government watchdog Judicial Watch is having to sue the Justice Department to obtain the memos under FOIA because they won’t release them.
Comey and his defenders contend that the creation of the memo of his conversation with Trump was to document Trump’s supposed interference in the FBI investigation.
If that’s true (and at this point, we only have Comey’s claim), then why didn’t Comey immediately inform the attorney general of the interference, as he was obligated to do?
If his leak was so heroic, why did he use a cut-out to leak the memo to the New York Times? If he wanted to get the information into the public square and the information was his to leak (it’s not), why didn’t he do so publicly?
And was this the only leak that Comey made to the media?
As FBI director, Comey was in charge of investigating the illegal leaks against the administration. And yet by his own admission, he was one of the leakers.
Who is investigating James Comey? His good friend Robert Mueller?