President Donald Trump’s outside counsel on Thursday attacked former FBI Director James Comey for disclosing the content of memos he kept of his conversations with Trump, and said the White House will let the authorities determine whether to investigate the ousted FBI chief.
Marc Kasowitz said in a statement following Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier Thursday that he “admitted” to sharing the contents of the memos to a personal friend, who then leaked it to the press. It is not clear if such a disclosure would be a violation.
Comey, who kept notes after his interactions with the president, told lawmakers that he shared memos with a friend, with the idea that such a disclosure could lead to a special prosecutor.
“My judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons,” Comey said. “I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
In his statement, Kasowitz maintained that Comey’s testimony “finally confirmed” what Trump has said: that he is not personally under investigation by the FBI, which is looking into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials during the presidential campaign. Kasowitz said Trump “never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference” and “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” directly contradicting Comey’s testimony.
In a written statement released Wednesday afternoon, Comey detailed multiple occasions in which he interacted with the president, beginning with a Jan. 6 briefing at Trump Tower and ending with an April 11 phone call.
Comey alleged that Trump had pressured him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and asked him for his loyalty. Kasowitz argued, however, that Trump never demanded Comey’s loyalty and suggested Comey engaged in an “unauthorized disclosure of privileged information” as an “entirely retaliatory” action following his abrupt dismissal.
“Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications,” he added.