During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey admitted that he had a friend leak information to the press in an attempt to have a special counsel assigned to the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. He had handed off a memo to Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman.
“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 told the intelligence committee.
By way of comparison, he also admitted that he was never an anonymous source or asked anyone else to be an anonymous source of information during the investigation into Clinton’s emails. He also refused to recommend charges in relation to Clinton’s handling of emails containing sensitive information and public pressure may have been a factor in his reopening of the Clinton email investigation last year. This is an obvious double standard that indicates that Comey was not as politically neutral as he should have been as director of the FBI.
Comey addresses motivations for speaking out on Clinton’s email investigation https://t.co/SeZb2glYY7
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 8, 2017
Could Revenge Be A Factor?
His admission could spell legal trouble and also derail James Comey’s career as both a public servant and an attorney. In fact, President Trump has already asked his attorney to file a complaint. If successful, the complaint could lead to Comey being banned from employment with the Department of Justice at any point in the future. If this is the only thing that happens as a consequence for Comey’s actions, he will get off lightly.
The attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has stated, “Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 8, 2017
Beyond that, Kasowitz has said that the matter would have to be left up to “appropriate authorities” to investigate. However, it’s not too out of line to assume that Comey’s relationship with President Trump had been strained even before his firing and he may have leaked the memo out of a wish for personal revenge. While he did succeed in his stated goal of having a special prosecutor appointed, he essentially cost himself the ability to find a senior position in the executive branch for as long as Trump remains in the White House.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 9, 2017
Public Reaction Swift And Harsh
Of course, there are those on Twitter who wonder why Comey isn’t facing criminal charges after his admission. “If #Comey just admitted leaking a classified memo to a friend, why is this not a criminal offense? @realDonaldTrump was right to fire!” said the Twitter user with the handle, @gotnews4you.
— I Got News For You (@gotnews4you) June 8, 2017
“There is no way that’s okay,” said Twitter user @Uncle_Jimbo in reference to Comey’s admitted leak.
J. Christian Adams of Fox News’ The Story recommended that President Trump file a complaint with the bar association for an obvious ethics violation. Howard Kurtz, also of Fox News, said, “We ought to be skeptical of both sides, but at the same time, we ought to not just give Comey a free pass.”
Comey’s revenge testimony: Ex-FBI director’s case collapses like a house of cards https://t.co/Iqz3X1uyYD
— Beet Hive Stream 🎨 (@yceek) June 10, 2017
If this admission was an attempt to damage President Trump, it backfired in a big way and has irrevocably damaged Comey’s career in public service at the very least. The fact that he did not do the same thing during the Clinton investigation will not help his case. This is a clear-cut case of revenge being unprofitable and Comey is unlikely to ever recover from his ill-considered actions and admission that he leaked the memo.