A new Senate report said recent leaks by former FBI Director James Comey’s leaking of memos could “potentially harm national security.”
The report, released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, found that there were 125 separate leaks in President Trump’s first 126 days that were potentially damaging to national security.
The report said it included Comey’s leaking of his memos after he was fired by Trump in May.
The report said:
In testimony before the Senate, Director Comey said he deliberately wrote the memos in unclassified form and that he helped leak them to the media in hopes of getting a special counsel appointed.
This report is not meant to question the motives of Director Comey. The release of these documents, however, could potentially harm national security under the 2009 presidential Executive Order if they concern foreign relations or counter-intelligence efforts.
The executive order, issued by former President Barack Obama, set standards for what “could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or discernible damage to the national security.”
Comey, on June 8, told the Senate intelligence committee that he had deliberately written memos of his private conversations with Trump in a declassified form and then later gave them to a friend — law professor and former prosecutor Daniel Richman — to leak to the media.
The Senate report noted constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley’s opinion that Comey is still subject to laws “governing the disclosure of classified and non-classified information,” and that the memos should have been classified at least as “confidential.”
The report notes there is a “patchwork” of statutes and presidential directives addressing the release of information that the executive branch deems potentially classified.
“The Espionage Act, a World War I-era law, remains ‘one of the U.S. government’s primary statutory vehicles for addressing the disclosure’ of sensitive national security information,” it said.
“Violations of the Espionage Act are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, as are violations of a separate statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1), which prohibits the communication of classified information retrieved from a computer if the information ‘could be used to the injury of the United States,’” it said.
The Senate report was sent to the Department of Justice to aid in its investigations of leaks.
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) said, “It is the responsibility of the Justice Department to decide whether to bring criminal prosecutions in leak cases.”
“As the Department continues its investigations, I hope that you will take care to ensure that the analysis can be useful to the relevant investigative entities,” it said.