In response to questioning from Sen. Susan Collins during Thursday’s Senate Intel hearing, former FBI Director James Comey revealed that after Trump published a tweet indicating that he had recordings of conversations they’d had, he decided to leak the contents of his memo in the hopes that a special prosecutor would be appointed.
“Did you give copies of those memos to anyone outside of the Department of Justice?” she asked.
“Yes,” Comey replied.
He explained: “The president tweeted on Friday, after I got fired, that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our original conversation, there might be a tape. So my judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square, so 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, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
This, as the Washington Post has underlined, is a fairly unusual thing for someone in Comey’s position to do—though Comey’s position was beyond unusual—and demonstrates a rather extreme degree of concern (although Donald Trump, Jr., who has been tweeting heavily in his father’s notable absence, took it in a different, more deranged direction). The friend in question, the Post confirmed, is former federal prosecutor and Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richmond, who leaked the contents of the memo to Michael Schmidt at the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the webpage for Columbia Law School’s faculty appears to have crashed.