White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that it was “pretty clean and clear” that James Comey
broke federal law by orchestrating a leak of memos he wrote as FBI director.
“The memos that Comey leaked were created on an FBI computer while he was the director. He claims they were private property, but they clearly followed the protocol of an official FBI document. Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign,” Sanders told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“I think that’s pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation,” she added, adding, “The Department of Justice has to look into any allegations of … whether or not something’s illegal or not. That’s not up to me to decide… What I’ve said and what I’m talking about are facts. James Comey — leaking of information, questionable statements under oath, politicizing an investigation. Those are real reasons for why he was fired, and the president’s decision was 100 percent right.”
Earlier in the week, Sanders pushed back on fired chief strategist Steve Bannon’s claim that US
President Donald Trump’s decision to dismiss Comey was the biggest mistake in “modern political history.” Sanders said she thinks “that Steve always likes to speak in kind of the most extreme measures. I’m not sure that I agree with that.” Bannon said that Comey’s dismissal in early May was the main reason Trump’s “Russia collusion” case was blown out of proportions.
Comey detailed what he said were uncomfortable interactions between him and Trump in a series of memos. In highly anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill, Comey also said he told a friend about the memos and encouraged him to share the information with a reporter, but said he made sure to write those memos in a way that they would not be marked as classified.
In a February 14 meeting with Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Comey was told that Flynn “hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians.” “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey quoted Trump as saying at the time. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Trump has dismissed allegations that the decision to fire Comey had anything to do with the Russia investigation, claiming that it only marked a “new beginning” at America’s “crown jewel of law enforcement.”
His critics on both sides of aisle, however, don’t buy his account and insist that the move amounted to a clear “obstruction of justice.” Reports emerged in May that Comey had refused Trump’s request to end an investigation into alleged ties between Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, with a Russian diplomat. Flynn was fired in February over undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US.
There are also claims that the decision was rooted in last year’s presidential election, when Comey’s FBI dropped all charges against Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in her infamous personal email server case.
Along with other Trump allies, Flynn is part of an investigation into possible collusion between the Republican president’s team and Russia. Apart from the House Intelligence Committee, at least three other congressional panels are investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election along with the FBI.
Comey had been appointed FBI director by former President Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term.