Some of the memos that former FBI Director James Comey wrote documenting his private conversations with President Donald Trump have been “retroactively classified,” according to a source with knowledge of the memos.
The source said it was unclear whether that included a memo in which Comey says Trump encouraged him to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Whether that particular memo has been retroactively classified will be a key question as Comey faces attacks from President Donald Trump and his supporters, who are now accusing him of mishandling classified information.
Comey provided that memo to a friend, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, and shortly after Trump fired him on May 9 urged Richman to share it with a reporter in hopes of spurring the appointment of a special prosecutor.
“James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media,” Trump said on Twitter on Monday. “That is so illegal!”
At least one of Comey’s memos remains unclassified, the source with knowledge told POLITICO.
The Hill newspaper first reported that some of Comey’s memos have been determined to contain classified information. Comey acknowledged in testimony last month before Congress that some of the memos were about classified conversations, but he said the memo about Flynn was specifically written in a way that would not “trigger a classification.”
As FBI director, Comey would have been the agency’s original classification authority, giving him control over which of the agency’s records were classified and which were not.
Benjamin Wittes, editor of the Lawfare blog and a friend of Comey’s, defended the former FBI director on Twitter Monday, and argued against Trump’s claim that Comey leaked classified information.
Wittes’ assessment is notable because he was among the first Comey associates to corroborate the substance of the memos, suggesting he learned similar details about Trump’s interactions with Comey from his private conversations with him.
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.