When James Comey gave a friend memos detailing his interactions with President Trump and asked that friend to give the memo to reporters, he was making “unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president,” President Trump’s personal lawyer said Thursday.
Now, lawyer Marc Kasowitz is preparing to file an official complaint against Comey to the Justice Department’s inspector general, according to CNN and NBC News.
It remains unclear whether Comey did anything wrong with the memos since the leak occurred after he was fired and the information in question was unclassified. Still, at least one legal expert is not so sure Comey’s in the clear.
Writing on his personal blog, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley says:
Besides being subject to Nondisclosure Agreements, Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and unclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified (though it seems odd that it would not be classified even on the confidential level), there is 18 U.S.C. § 641 which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”
Kasowitz’s complaint, even if it has merit, appears more about branding Comey a leaker than getting him punished. As CNN notes, even if Comey’s found to have broken protocol, the most the Justice Department could do is “make a note in Comey’s file should he ever seek to be employed by the DOJ again.” Given his recent experience, that seems pretty unlikely.