Former FBI Director James Comey’s memos of conversations he had with President Donald Trump about the agency’s Russia investigation contained classified information, according to officials familiar with the documents, The Hill reported Sunday.
Comey reportedly kept seven memos of nine conversations with Trump, and four were marked “secret” or “confidential,” according to sources. Though it’s been known Comey wrote the memos, this is the first report of how many there were.
If true, Comey could have broken the FBI’s own rules for security protocols that was an issue he criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for making when she served as Secretary of State.
Comey testified last month that he considered the memos to be his own personal property. He also said he shared at least one with a friend in hopes it would get leaked to the media and a special counsel would be named to investigate claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and charges of collusion with the Trump campaign.
“So, you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., asked Comey on June 8. “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”
During his testimony, Comey also hinted that one or two of the documents may have contained classified information, but said he “immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation.”
FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified material or information regarding ongoing agency investigations without written permission. In addition, documents created as part of official duties are considered government property.
It’s not clear if the information in Comey’s memos was classified at the time he wrote them or if it was deemed classified later.
Congressional investigators are likely now to look to see if Comey mishandled information in his duties as FBI director. The issue could be investigated by the Senate or House Intelligence Committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee or turned over to the Justice Department, the inspector general or the director of National Intelligence.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment.