Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey said that shortly after being fired by President Donald Trump, he asked “a close friend” at the Columbia University Law School to leak a memo detailing a conversation he had with the commander in chief.
Comey made the admission when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) asked him why he kept the memos of his conversations with the president, and asked if he ever shared any of them with anyone outside the Justice Department.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 8, 2017
The memo, which Financial Times correspondent Madhumita Murgia reported was leaked by Columbia University professor and former federal prosecutor Dan Richman, documented an Oval Office meeting during which Trump allegedly asked Comey to “let go” of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey told Collins. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
Comey decided to leak the content of his meeting with Trump after the president tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1494591975.0
That tweet followed contradicting reports about a White House dinner between Trump and Comey. Trump told NBC News last month that it was Comey who requested the dinner, while officials familiar with the meeting said it was the president who called for the dinner.
During the dinner, Trump allegedly requested Comey’s loyalty.
Comey said Thursday that, a few days after seeing Trump’s tweet, he woke up “in the middle of the night,” realizing that there might — in fact — be a tape of his interaction with the president.
“I needed to get that out into the public square,” he explained to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “As a private citizen, I thought it important to share that, I wanted to get it out.”
Comey noted that the memo was not classified because it was based on personal “recollection.”