President Trump’s lawyer did more than just release a statement clearly intended to hoist James Comey by his own petard. He now intends to file a complaint with the Department of Justice because Comey leaked memos detailing private, sensitive conversations with the President.
Attorney Marc Kasowitz swiftly responded to Comey’s testimony yesterday at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Under oath, Comey stated that Trump demanded his loyalty at a private dinner meeting in January, and he explained that he took detailed notes of the encounter because he was worried the President would lie about their conversation. He admitted to leaking some of these memos to a friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman, in hopes this would lead to a special counsel being appointed to investigate Trump.
Kasowitz asserted that Comey’s actions were motivated by revenge and intended to “undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information.” Now he wants the Justice Department to look into just how illegal Comey’s leak might have been.
Comey, of course, has a somewhat complicated history with the Justice Department. Part of his testimony yesterday concerned conversations with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch about Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and his discomfort with Lynch’s insistence that the probe be downplayed in the media as a “matter” of inquiry. He also touched on current Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ self-recusal from the Russia probe, noting that “we also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make [Sessions’] continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation ‘problematic.'”
In response to Kasowitz’s DOJ filing claim, Obama’s Ethics Czar and Brookings fellow Norm Eisen indicated he would be filing Comey’s defense, along with George Bush’s former ethics lawyer Richard W. Painter, and Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.