WASHINGTON– President Donald Trump’s outside attorney plans to file a complaint against former FBI Director James Comey with the Justice Department Inspector General and the Senate judiciary committee, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
The complaint will focus on Comey’s testimony that he gave a friend the content of memos about his conversations with Trump and asked the friend to then give that information to a reporter. Comey said Friday that he gave the friend — later identified as Daniel Richman, a longtime Comey confidante and Columbia University professor — the information after Trump tweeted that he may have tapes of his conversations with the fired FBI director.
“My judgment was I needed 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,” Comey said Thursday.
It is unclear when Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, will file the complaints, but the source said they are actively exploring their options.
The Justice Department, however, has limited jurisdiction over former employees. They can investigate but the remedy in the event of finding wrongdoing would be to make a note in Comey’s file should he ever seek to be employed by the DOJ again.
Trump, through his lawyers, has long threatened legal action that never materialized. Trump threatened to sue Sen. Ted Cruz multiple times during the 2016 campaign, along with the Republican Party of Louisiana and The Washington Post. None of those lawsuits were ever filed.
Effort to discredit Comey
Republicans have looked to discredit Comey by calling him a “leaker” because of the way he disseminated the information about Trump.
Comey said Thursday that the memos he wrote were unclassified. Disseminating unclassified information is generally not considered leaking and the President did not assert executive privilege over Comey’s testimony.
The President himself accused Comey of lying and leaking Friday on Twitter.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.
The source said the fact that Comey decided to disseminate the information because of a tweet was “gold” for the lawyers looking to file a complaint against the former FBI director.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.