Trump has said that amounted to leaking classified information, but Comey has maintained — as recently as in an interview Thursday night with Bret Baier on Fox News — that the information was unclassified.
“Is everybody believing what is going on,” Trump tweeted early Friday. “James Comey can’t define what a leak is. He illegally leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION but doesn’t understand what he did or how serious it is. He lied all over the place to cover it up. He’s either very sick or very dumb.”
During his Fox News interview on Thursday night, Comey said Trump’s claims that he had leaked classified information were “just wrong,” arguing that the information he passed along to his friend was from an unclassified memo memorializing his conversations with Trump.
“Facts really do matter,” Comey said. “That memo was unclassified then. It’s still unclassified.
Comey also pointed out that he discusses the memo in his recent book, “A Higher Loyalty”, which he has promoted through a flurry of media appearances.
“It’s in my book,” Comey told Bair. “The FBI cleared my book before it could be published.”
The issue also came up on Wednesday night when Comey participated in a town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. During that broadcast, Comey maintained that he had not “leaked” information because, by his definition, leaking means an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
“Is it okay for somebody at the FBI to leak something, an internal document, even if it’s not classified? Isn’t that leaking?” Cooper asled Comey.
“Well, there’s a whole lot wrong with your question, Anderson,” Comey responded.
“I think of a leak as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” Comey added.
“Really? That’s it?” Cooper said.
“That’s how I thought of it as FBI director,” Comey said. “We investigated leaks. Unauthorized disclosures. The bottom line is, I see no credible claim by any serious person that violated the law.”