One of the strangest moments in the James Comey hearing came when he cryptically confirmed asking a close friend to leak a memo about his dealings with Trump to the press. Comey didn’t name him, but he was referring to Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia University’s Law School best known as an adviser to Comey.
Richman was not just randomly mentioned during the hearing. Comey brought him up in an important moment. Below is the exchange between Comey and Sen. Susan Collins where Richman is referred to.
Comey: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.
Sen. Susan Collins: Was that Mr. Wittes?
Sen. Susan Collins: Who was it?
Comey: A close friend who is a professor at Columbia Law School.
Speculation immediately grew that Richman was the source. He did not respond to Vox’s request for comment about his role, but Richman’s friends, and Richman himself, confirmed that it was true.
Daniel Richman, Columbia Law professor, confirms to me via email that he leaked the contents of the Comey memos— Kelsey Sutton (@kelseymsutton) June 8, 2017
So now we know he was one of Comey’s close “associates,” as the New York Times story about the existence of Comey’s memos labeled some of the sources.
Richman has shown up in the Times’s reporting on Comey before. In an April 22, 2017 piece on how Comey tried to keep politics out of the FBI’s work, Richman defended his friend. “Jim sees his role as apolitical and independent,” he told the Times.
In a November 1, 2016 story about Comey’s much-derided decision to inform Congress — and the public — about a new inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Richman again sided with Comey.
“Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” he stated.
So perhaps it should not come as much of a surprise that Richman helped Comey to make his now-famous memos public. But if Richman wasn’t in the public consciousness before for being a Comey confidante, he surely is now.