Behind Trump's claim that Comey lied about timing of his leak
Lawyers for President Trump shot down ex-FBI Director James Comey's claim that a tweet from the commander-in-chief prompted him to leak a memo detailing a private conversation with Trump – and a close examination of a pre-tweet New York Times story may bolster their claim.Trump's attorney is making two claims here. The first is about the propriety of the leak itself and the second attacks Comey's alleged basis for making the leak. What seems clear is that someone leaked it to the NY Times before Comey said he decided to leak it. Who else had access to the material before May 11? I think the timing of the leak is what prompted Trump to call Comey a liar.
During testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey said he was spurred to orchestrate the release of the detailed memo he wrote about a one-on-one talk with Trump after the president tweeted May 12: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
“I woke up in the middle of the night ... because it didn’t dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation,” Comey told senators. “And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter … because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
The admission itself was dramatic, and drew the scorn of Trump allies. Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, read a statement blasting Comey for admitting “he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications.”
Kasowitz, however, also said Comey’s testimony was incorrect.
“The public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse,” the statement from Kasowitz said.
Though Comey claimed he didn't orchestrate the leak until May 16, four days after Trump's May 12 tweet, a New York Times article from May 11 appears to track closely with the memo's contents.
There are in fact striking similarities between that pre-tweet article and Comey's written testimony, suggesting the memo's contents may have been leaked -- by somebody -- before Trump vented on Twitter.