When Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight committee called on former FBI Director James Comey to testify yet again on Friday, they hoped to get him to say something that would buttress President Trump’s claims that the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community were conspiring against him along with the Obama administration throughout his 2016 presidential campaign.
Little did they know that Comey would instead implicate presidential attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in doing the very types of things that Trump and his GOP enablers have been trying to pin on supposed “angry Democrats” in the investigations of the president.
The ex-FBI chief fired by Trump shortly after he took office told his congressional inquisitors “that he was concerned officials in the bureau’s New York field office had leaked sensitive information to prominent Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to an account in The Wall Street Journal.
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Comey told the representatives in the closed-door session that he had asked his staff to open an investigation into leaks once Giuliani went on TV claiming insider knowledge of the bureau’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s email server and possible mishandling of classified documents, but was fired by Trump before the probe could be concluded.
“I was concerned that there appeared to be in the media a number of stories that might have been based on communications reporters or non-reporters like Rudy Giuliani were having with people in the New York field office,” Comey said in the transcript of his sworn testimony released yesterday.
“Mr. Giuliani was making statements that appeared to be based on his knowledge of workings inside the FBI New York,” Comey continued. “And then my recollection is there were other stories that were in the same ballpark that gave me a general concern that we may have a leak problem—unauthorized disclosure problem out of New York, and so I asked that it be investigated.”
Since Giuliani had relationships with the agents in the FBI’s New York office not only from his time as mayor of the city during the 9/11 attack and the subsequent investigation but from his term as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, it wouldn’t be a tremendous leap to speculate that those agents may have violated the FBI’s strict confidentiality rules to help an old friend working for a candidate that they supported.
The irony of this revelation is that the chief aim of Republicans in Congress who have been tripping over themselves to ingratiate themselves with President Trump has been to focus attention on their claims that the FBI was conspiring against Trump during the campaign by dropping their investigation of Clinton’s email server issues as not worthy of prosecution.
To discover that some FBI insiders were actually suspected of conspiring with and leaking to Giuliani for Trump’s benefit turns the GOP sycophants’ accusations on their heads and proves once again that just about any accusation that Trump throws at his opponents has its roots in his own and his cronies’ misdeeds.
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Original reporting by Byron Tau and Natalie Andrews at The Wall Street Journal.