In March of 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey testified under oath to the House Intelligence Committee. The full transcript of his testimony is here.
I want to discuss the following excerpt of a discussion between Representative Peter King and FBI Director James Comey during that testimony. All emphasis is mine:
KING: I fully understand the media’s fascination with palace intrigue, with which faction of the White House is trying to outdo the other, that’s all — to me, that’s all legitimate, that goes with the game. But if you’re talking about leaking classified information, if you’re talking about leaking investigations, I mean — you’ve stated today that there is an FBI investigation going on. So if the New York Times can be believed, I would think there would have to be somebody from the FBI who is telling them about these purported meetings, which Mr. McCabe said was BS, with the Russian intelligence agencies. Somebody who’s familiar with that investigation spoke to the New York Times. And so I’ll use that as an example and also, one where there’s a small universe.
I think it was on January 6, when yourself, Admiral Rogers, Director Brennan, and General Clapper went to Trump tower to meet with President Trump. The media reports are that at the end of that meeting, Director Comey, you presented president-elect Trump with a copy of the now infamous or famous dossier. And I don’t know how many people were in the room, but within hours, that was leaked to the media and that gave the media the excuse or the rationale to publish almost the entire dossier.
Do you — does that violate any law? I mean you were at a classified briefing with the president-elect of the United States and it had to be a very, very small universe of people who knew that you handed them that dossier and it was leaked out within hours. Are you making any effort to find out who leaked it and do you believe that constitute a criminal violation?
COMEY: I can’t say, Mr. King except I can answer in general.
COMEY: Any unauthorized disclosure of classified conversations or documents is potentially a violation of law and a serious, serious problem. I’ve spent most of my career trying to figure out unauthorized disclosures and where they came from. It’s very, very hard.
Often times, it doesn’t come from the people who actually know the secrets. It comes from one hop out, people who heard about it or were told about it. And that’s the reason so much information that reports to be accurate classified information is actually wrong in the media. Because the people who heard about it didn’t hear about it right. But, it is an enormous problem whenever you find information that is actually classified in the media.
We don’t talk about it because we don’t wanna confirm it, but I do think it should be investigated aggressively and if possible, prosecuted so people take as a lesson, this is not OK. This behavior can be deterred and its deterred by locking some people up who have engaged in criminal activity.
KING: Well, could you say it was — obviously, Admiral Rogers was in the room, you were in the room, General Clapper was in the room and Director Brennan was in the room. Were there any other people in the room that could’ve leaked that out?
I mean this isn’t a report that was circulated among 20 people. This is an unmasking of names where you may have 20 people in the NSA and a hundred people in the FBI, its not putting together a report or the intelligence agency. This is four people in a room with the president-elect of the United States. And I don’t know who else was in that room and that was leaked out, it seemed within minutes or hours, of you handing him that dossier and it was so confidential, if you read the media reports that you actually handed it to him separately.
So believe me, I’m not saying it was you. I’m just saying, it’s a small universe of people that would’ve known about that. And if it is a disclosure of classified information, if you’re going to start with investigating the leaks, to me that would be one place where you could really start to narrow it down.
COMEY: And again, Mr. King, I can’t comment because I do not ever wanna confirm a classified conversation with a president or president-elect. I can tell you my general experience. It often turns out, there are more people who know about something you expected.
At first, both because there may be more people involved in the thing than you realized, not — not this particular, but in general. And more people have been told about it or heard about it or staff have been briefed on it. And those echoes are in my experience, what most often ends up being shared with reporters.
KING: Well, could you tell us who else was in the room that day?
COMEY: I’m sorry?
KING: Could you tell us who else was in the room with you that day?
COMEY: No, because I’m not going to confirm that there was such a conversation because then, I might accidentally confirm something that was in the newspaper.
KING: But could you tell us who was in the room, whether or not there was a conversation?
COMEY: No, I’m not confirming there was a conversation. In a classified setting, I might be able to share more with you, but I’m not going to confirm any conversations with either President Obama or President Trump or when President Trump was the President-elect.
KING: Well, not the conversation or even the fact that you gave it to him, but can you — can you tell us who was in the room for that briefing that you gave?
COMEY: That you’re saying later ended up in the newspaper?
COMEY: So my talking about who was in the room would be a confirmation that was in the newspaper was classified information, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to help people who did something that — that is unauthorized.
KING: Yeah, but we all know that the four of you went to Trump Tower for the briefing, I mean that’s not classified, is it?
COMEY: How do we all know that, though?
KING: You know, you can — you see the predicament we’re in, here.
COMEY: I get it. I get it. But we are duty-bound to protect classified information, both in the first when we get it, and then to make sure we don’t accidentally jeopardize classified information by what we say about something that appears in the media.
Despite Representative Peter King’s repeated attempts to get Director Comey to discuss the question, Director Comey repeatedly refused to answer based on the following undisputed facts reiterated by Director Comey:
• It was a “classified meeting” with the President-Elect.
• As a result, Director Comey could not discuss any discussions that went on at such a meeting, because it would also be classified.
• Any unauthorized disclosure of classified conversations or documents is potentially a violation of law which should be prosecuted.
• As Director of the FBI, he could not confirm that a classified conversation with a president or president-elect actually occurred.
• Director Comey could not even talk about who was in the room, because that would be a confirmation of a classified meeting.
• Director Comey said that he was “duty-bound to protect classified information”.
With that as prologue, I have one simple question.
James Comey took official FBI memos, memos that he prepared on FBI time on an FBI computer to record classified details of classified discussions at a classified meeting where according to Comey himself even the existence of the meeting is classified, and then leaked the memos to the media.
On what planet is this NOT a crime?
Last night Comey claimed that leaking them was all perfectly fine because these memos weren’t classified, nor were they FBI property, they were his “personal diary” …
This is total madness … the Deep State on steroids.
Best regards to everyone on a day which may bring the last rain before summer to our bit of land on the hillside overlooking the blue Pacific,
Hat tip to Steve McIntyre, who pointed out this most interesting testimony. You might consider following him on Twitter, @ClimateAudit. He is always both interesting and accurate.