Republicans, including Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, are criticizing former FBI Director James Comey for releasing information to a friend about a private discussion Comey had with President Donald Trump. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation is underway into Russia’s interference in last year’s U.S. presidential elections and alleged ties with Trump’s campaign. Blunt sits on the committee.
Under scrutiny is a meeting between ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S.
Comey says he wanted the information leaked to the media that involved Trump suggesting Comey drop an investigation into Flynn.
“You didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document? You considered it to be somehow your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to through a friend,” asks Blunt.
“Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president as a private citizen,” says Comey. “I felt free to share that. I thought it was very important to get it out.”
The former FBI director says he found it significant that Trump made other administration officials leave the Oval Office before the one-on-one conservation.
“Why didn’t you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party,” asks Blunt.
“I was worried because the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point,” says Comey. “I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I was worried that it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach. I asked my friend to make sure this gets out.”
“It does seem to me that what you do there is create a source close to the former director of the FBI as opposed to just taking responsibility yourself for saying ‘here are these records,’” says Blunt.
The U.S. Senate committee spent about three hours on Thursday questioning Comey.