Former FBI Director James Comey revealed to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that he shared his memos with a friend at Columbia University so that he could share them with the media and prompt a special counsel for the Russia investigation.
He said he took the unusual move “because [he] thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel”:
Wow, Comey authorized a friend who is a law professor at Columbia to share his memo with a reporter to prompt naming of special counsel
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 8, 2017
The revelation not only outed a source who spoke to multiple media outlets as an “associate” of Comey but also raised potential serious questions, according to a legal expert:
The memos could be viewed as gov't material and potential evidence . Leaking to a friend for disclosure can raise serious questions.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 8, 2017
It also raised questions as to why he shared them with a friend to leak to the media but did not share them with Congress or others investigating whether the Trump administration ever colluded with Russia.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) asked Comey if he could get those memos back from those who had them so that Congress could take a look at them.
Asked why he did not just talk to the media himself, Comey said, “I was afraid it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach.”
Daniel Richman, a professor at the university, is widely believed to be the friend.
A Washington Post reporter tweeted that Richman has confirmed that he was the friend:
JUST IN: Columbia U professor Dan Richman confirms to @washingtonpost he was the friend Comey asked to share info about his mtg w/ Trump.
— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) June 8, 2017
According to the Columbia Law School website, Richman is a former official at the Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury. The website also says, “He is currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.”
— Kristina Wong (@kristina_wong) June 8, 2017