Justice Dept. watchdog looking into Comey's handling of memos

The Justice Department's internal watchdog has interviewed multiple individuals who saw copies of former FBI Director...

Posted: Apr 21, 2018 4:02 PM
Updated: Apr 21, 2018 4:02 PM

The Justice Department's internal watchdog has interviewed multiple individuals who saw copies of former FBI Director James Comey's memos recounting his conversations with President Donald Trump prior to Thursday's widespread release, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Until now, Comey has publicly stated that he shared the memos with top officials at the FBI, Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman and special counsel Robert Mueller's office. But CNN has learned of additional close associates of Comey -- outside of the FBI -- who have been questioned by the inspector general's office about precisely which memo or memos they saw and when Comey shared them, sources say.

The answers to such questions could prove critical for Comey, as the inspector general's office is expected to release a significant report in the coming weeks on how the FBI handled politically sensitive investigations related to Trump and his 2016 presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

The inspector general's office is reviewing how the former FBI director handled the memos, including whether any classified information was improperly shared, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for the inspector general's office declined to comment. A spokesperson for Comey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The existence of the memos was first revealed last spring when The New York Times reported Comey had written a memo suggesting Trump asked him to scuttle the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey told senators he provided that one to "a friend" to read to the Times in hopes it would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

At the time, officials at the FBI knew Comey had memorialized his interactions with the President, but were not aware he shared the contents outside of the bureau until Comey divulged it during his testimony last June, one source explained.

"I thought it was something that needed to be done," Comey told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview on Thursday, explaining his decision to give the memo to Richman. "And a private citizen can talk about their unclassified conversations with the President."

This week the Justice Department turned over to Congress a set of seven documents, which include Comey's contemporaneous notes and emails to top FBI officials with some redactions of classified information. Lawmakers were also provided fully unredacted documents to review in a secure setting on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and other Republican lawmakers raised questions about Comey's handling of classified information.

"If it's true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information," Grassley wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein while asking for further clarification.

In Comey's book "A Higher Loyalty" released this week, the memo that he focuses on the most is the February 2017 one detailing the Flynn conversation, which, according to the copy of the memo obtained by CNN, does not contain any redactions.

But Comey said Thursday he could not recall exactly how many memos in total were classified.

"I don't know exactly how many there are," Comey told Tapper. "Some may be memos, some may be e-mails. ... And I think some of them -- I know when I created some of them, they were classified, but I don't know how many of that group."

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Justice Department's inspector general is investigating at least two memos alleged to contain classified information that Comey shared with Richman. The newspaper reports that Comey himself redacted portions of one memo before sharing it and that a second memo was later determined by FBI officials to be classified "confidential," the lowest level of classification.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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