President Trump tweeted Monday morning that former FBI Director James Comey “leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION” when he provided the New York Times with information about his meetings with the president.
There’s no evidence that is true. The president’s tweet apparently came from a segment on Fox & Friends, which was a misleading interpretation of a report from the Hill newspaper on the contents of Comey’s memos.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
The Hill said that, based on interviews with unnamed “officials familiar with the documents,” more than half of Comey’s memos contained classified information. Because of this, the circumstances of the creation and storage of the memos that did contain classified information could have run afoul of FBI protocols.
But the report does not claim that Comey actually leaked classified information to the New York Times or anyone else.
The president retweeted this misleading Fox & Friends video concerning these allegations less than 10 minutes before his outburst.
Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information pic.twitter.com/Hkg4cAb6o9— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 10, 2017
During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey had suggested that while some memos contained classified information, he intentionally wrote most memos to be unclassified in the event that he needed to discuss them:
[SEN. MARK] WARNER: And I found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14 pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?
COMEY: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this, but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.
COMEY: It's hard to share it with an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handle for good reason. My thinking was if I write in such a way that won’t include anything that trigger classification, that will make it easier to discuss within FBI and government, and to hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us.
Trump’s accusation comes in the midst of news that the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the campaign to seek damaging information about Hillary Clinton.