Comey plays defense on FBI memo release, denies being a leaker

James Comey on Clinton probe, Russia investigation

Former FBI Director James Comey, in an interview with Fox News, on Thursday defended sharing his memos about conversations with President Trump, while denying it was a “leak.”

“That memo was unclassified then,” Comey told anchor Bret Baier during an appearance on “Special Report.” “It’s still unclassified. It’s in my book. The FBI cleared that book before it could be published.”

Comey admitted during Senate testimony last June that he shared his memos documenting meetings with Trump with his friend, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, who leaked the contents to the media.

“I didn’t consider it part of an FBI file… It was my personal aid to memoir,” Comey said.

During Thursday’s interview, Comey claimed he doidn’t consider what he did a leak, though he admitted he sent Richman a copy of the two-page unclassified memo and “asked him to get the substance of it out to the media.”

“The reason I’m smiling, Bret,” Comey said. “I don’t consider what I shared Mr. Richman a leak.”

Comey also defended why he didn’t reveal hiring Richman as a special government employee for the FBI to work on special projects, saying “it wasn’t relevant.”

Earlier Thursday, Trump accused Comey of being a “liar and a leaker” who is “guilty of crimes.”

“He leaked classified information to get a special counsel and leaked the memos which are classified – the memos were about me and he didn’t write those memos accurately. He wrote a lot of phony stuff,” Trump said Thursday on “Fox & Friends.” “He is guilty of crimes.”

Comey responded by calling that a “that’s a false statement” and saying Trump is “just wrong.”

“Facts really do matter, which is why I’m on the show to answer your questions,” he said.

Comey also denied knowing who was behind the leak about the infamous anti-Trump dossier that was later revealed to have been used to obtain a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“I don’t know who leaked it,” he said. “I had no part in leaking any of it.”

Comey is doing television interviews to promote his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” where he blasts the president for everything from his integrity to his height, skin and hair.

During an interview on Fox News on Thursday, Trump suggested the Department of Justice hasn’t adequately scrutinized Comey and others amid the focus on the Russia probe. Comey was fired last year by President Trump.

"Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” Trump said. “There is no collusion with me and Russia, and everyone knows that.”

Trump on Thursday specifically slammed the memos that Comey leaked to a friend to spur a special counsel appointment.

He said they included classified information, and challenged their accuracy.

Richman told Fox News that Comey had given him four memos, and this week told Fox News that he is now representing Comey as his attorney.

Fox News reported this week that during Comey’s time at the FBI, Richman was a “special government employee” on an unpaid basis. Sources familiar with Richman’s FBI work said Comey assigned him to "special projects."

"Comey did an illegal act," Trump said Thursday.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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