Tangled up in Comey

Yesterday evening CNN assembled a friendly audience of youngsters ripe for former FBI Director James Comey’s pitch. Comey was pitching himself and his memoir paying tribute to himself, in roughly that order. One interesting exchange came out of it (video below), as Anderson Cooper asked Comey a few questions about the leaking of the memos of his conversations with President Trump to his “friend” the Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman (as Comey described him under oath to Congress). Comey had instructed Richman to read one of the memos to a New York Times reporter in the hope that the story would result in the appointment of a Special Counsel, as indeed it did.

Richman called New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt to give him the information reported in the May 17, 2017, New York Times story “Comey memo says Trump asked him to end Flynn investigation.” The memo was written immediately following the meeting. “It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation,” Schmidt explained. He added that he had “not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.”

Last night Comey emphasized the fact that he was a “private citizen” when he leaked the memo(s) that he disseminated. I think that is what might be called a red herring. He wrote the memos in the course of his employment to memorialize private conversations with the president of the United States about matters related to the performance of his official duties. He implies that the leaking of the memos was authorized, but nobody authorized it. Nobody but Comey himself. Comey’s comments also raise the question whether he rightfully removed the memos from the FBI upon his termination. His comments beg that question (i.e., they assume the answer without proving it). Comey may have to claim his absolution of Hillary Clinton as the precedent for his own absolution before this thing is over; he’s almost there.

What a piece of work is Comey.

Quotable quote (one more red herring): “It’s also in my book.”

Related: Catherine Herridge, Pamela K. Browne, Cyd Upson (Fox News), Comey’s memo leak contact had ‘special government employee’ status at FBI” and “Comey memos shared more widely than previously thought.”

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