Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman has directly confirmed with source that he helped leak memos of former FBI Director James Comey’s private conversations with President Donald Trump to the public.
Richman told source that he did not want to answer any other questions about the leak.
During a Senate hearing Thursday, Comey revealed that he asked a “good friend” to leak the private conversations, which were not classified. When Comey was asked why he kept the extensive memos and notes on his conversations with Trump, he said that he did it to protect himself and the integrity of the FBI. Comey also said, “I was honestly concerned he may lie about the nature of the meeting.”
Comey’s prepared remarks for Thursday’s Senate hearing stated that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” Comey said that he took this as a direction, even though it used the word “hope,” because of the president’s stature and the context of the meeting. (Comey later confirmed that the investigation into Flynn concerned his potentially lying to federal investigators.)
These comments stunned Comey. He said that if he had been stronger, he might have been able to stand up to the president at this time. He also noted that it was very concerning that before Trump made these comments, the president asked Sessions and the chief of staff to leave the room. He said this indicated that something inappropriate was happening, and that he believed Sessions knew it was wrong to leave the room.
These were the comments that, when reported in the New York Times by reporters quoting a Comey associate reading from his memos, triggered the appointment of a special counsel. Comey revealed in his testimony that he wanted his friend to leak the info, which was not classified, because it would force a special counsel to be appointed.
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