The public feud between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last year, sparking allegations of "obstruction of justice," has reignited after Comey gave an interview to ABC News in which he suggested "it's possible" that Trump was "with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow." In response, Trump unloaded on Comey on Twitter, declaring that he "should be prosecuted" for leaking classified information to the press.
Trump is referencing a revelation that came during Comey's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017, just weeks after he was fired by Trump because of his botched handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation. Comey told the committee that he had given memos he had written while serving as FBI director to his friend, a law professor at Columbia University, so he could leak it to the media for the express purpose of creating pressure to create a special prosecutor for the Russia allegations, which turned out to be Robert Mueller.
Though Comey tried to argue that the memos were his private property and thus legal for him to distribute, the FBI made clear they were in fact government property and contained classified information.
"So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?" asked Republican Sen. Roy Blunt during the hearing. "You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?"
"Correct," said Comey. "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."
Later, Comey addressed the specifics of his memo on the Mike Flynn conversation. "I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership," he said later. "My view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded."
However, as The Hill reported a month later, the FBI revealed that Comey's "unclassified," "personal" memos he leaked to force the special counsel were actually government documents, some of which were clearly marked classified. "Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the secret or confidential level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter," The Hill reported.
It is a violation of FBI policy for agents to release any information that is classified or involves an ongoing investigation, as explained in the agreement signed by all FBI agents. The first two clauses of the agreement clearly state that such disclosures "violate federal law" and that "all information" and documents acquired in connection to one's official duties in the bureau are "the property of the United States of America":
1. Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law. I understand that by being granted access to such information, I am accepting a position of special trust and am obligated to protect such information from unauthorized disclosure.
2. All information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America. I will surrender upon demand by the FBI, or upon my separation from the FBI, all materials containing FBI information in my possession.