President Trump’s legal team may be prepared to show a trail of leaks to The New York Times by former FBI Director James Comey – dating back to at least March – in a pair of complaints set to be filed to the Justice Department inspector general and Senate Judiciary Committee, a source close to the team told Fox News.
An independent Fox News review of The New York Times’ reporting dating back to January reveals a host of stories sourced from top FBI and DOJ officials – or those privy to their conversations – that either paint Comey in a positive light or push a message he was unable to personally disclose.
Though Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3 he’d never been -- or directed another FBI official to be -- an anonymous source for news reports about the Trump and Hillary Clinton investigations, the then-FBI chief did not deny orchestrating leaks using, for instance, an old friend who works at Columbia University, or providing the information to a wide enough group to ensure it would leak.
And in reference to a separate case, he acknowledged sending his infamous letter to lawmakers last fall announcing a revival of the Clinton email probe knowing full well what they'd do: "Did I know they were really going to leak it? Of course, I know how Congress works.”
Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, was open about at least one leak in testimony last Thursday.
He admitted to using an ex-U.S. attorney, later identified as Columbia University Prof. Daniel Richman, to leak to The Times the contents of alleged memos Comey wrote about his one-on-one interactions with Trump. He was not asked if he had ever used Richman on other occasions; however, Richman is mentioned in 151 results in a New York Times search dating back to 1993, with 11 of those articles also featuring Comey and six of them being authored by Michael S. Schmidt – who later wrote the “Comey memos” story which Comey told Congress he directed Richman to leak.
Dating back to at least Jan. 10, The Times has published confidential information related to Trump and the FBI, mostly sourced anonymously from senior officials in the FBI and DOJ:
Jan. 6 – Comey, in written testimony, said he briefed then-President-elect Trump while the two men were alone in Trump Tower on this date. The briefing dealt with the salacious and unverified dossier alleging that Russia had compromising information about Trump. According to Comey’s account, both he and ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper decided Comey should be the only one to brief Trump. One of the reasons for this arrangement, Comey wrote, was because he was staying on as FBI director – though no official announcement had been made about this and subsequent reports indicate Trump didn’t ask Comey about remaining in his capacity until this meeting took place.
Jan. 10 – The Times reports on the Comey/Trump dossier meeting, citing “2 officials with knowledge of the briefing.” More inside-the-FBI information also exists in the article, including when the FBI first became aware of the dossier and the troubles agents had confirming the document’s details.
Jan. 24 – Though Trump hadn’t made an official announcement, The Times reports Comey would be staying on as FBI director. Comey had reportedly told a large group about the news, in this case special agents in charge from across the nation. Trump’s request that Comey remain on allegedly occurred during the Jan. 6 Trump Tower meeting. Schmidt wrote the story.
Feb. 24 – Following a CNN report about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, The Times reports (the same day) that both Comey and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe allegedly called White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to assure him the CNN report was false. Priebus asked the FBI leaders if they could refute the report in public, though they both declined. When the reported calls between the FBI officials and Priebus surfaces, Trump is infuriated and tweets that the FBI needs to work aggressively to stop the leaks.
March 1 – A DOJ official confirms to The Times that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a pair of conversations with Russian official Sergey Kislyak despite Sessions’ Jan. 10 testimony that he hadn’t had contact with Russians in a campaign capacity. This news, and the ensuing firestorm, leads to Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Comey said in his June written statement that he knew as far back as mid February that Sessions would likely be recusing himself. This was one of the reasons he gave for not telling Sessions about his interactions with Trump. Schmidt contributed to this article.
March 4 – Trump infamously tweets that his phones had been “tapped” at Trump Tower by the Obama administration during the transition. A “senior law enforcement official from the Obama Administration” tells The Times that Trump’s claim is “100 percent untrue.” Schmidt contributed to this article.
March 5 – Several “senior American officials and senior FBI officials” tell The Times that Comey argued that Trump’s surveillance claim was false and had to be publicly corrected, even going so far as to ask DOJ to push back on the allegation. The Justice Department does not do so, though Comey’s concerns are voiced in the article without him ever giving an on-the-record quote. Schmidt contributed to this article.
March 6 – The Trump administration pushes back on the reported Comey concerns publicized in the previous day’s Times story. Comey “was said to be disturbed” by the claims because the Trump allegations insinuated the FBI had broken the law. Schmidt wrote this article.
April 22 – The Times publishes a very lengthy profile of Comey featuring several in-depth, inside-the-room details and on-the-record quotes from Richman. The piece portrays Comey as a man attempting to “shield the FBI” from politics while struggling to do the right thing. Schmidt contributed to the article.
May 9 – Comey is fired by Trump.
May 10 – Richman is quoted in a Times story about Comey and foreshadows the alleged request for loyalty Trump made of Comey: “With a president who seems to prize personal loyalty above all else and a director with absolute commitment to the Constitution and pursuing investigations wherever the evidence led, a collision was bound to happen.”
May 11 – In the afternoon, Trump gives an interview to Lester Holt in which Trump calls Comey a “showboat.” Later that night, The New York Times publishes details of an alleged dinner meeting between Trump and Comey in which Trump “demanded loyalty” and Comey demurred. The article, written by Schmidt, cites “associates” of Comey.
May 12 – A tweet from Trump, ostensibly sent in response to the latest Times story, suggests Comey is the source of the leak and tells him he should hope Trump doesn’t have “tapes” of their conversations.
May 16 – Comey testified in June he woke up in the middle of the night and decided he needed to get his side of the story out (though most of the details were already reported in the May 11 article). That day, the story about Comey’s alleged memos of the Trump meetings is reported in a New York Times story. Schmidt wrote the article. This is the only leak Comey has acknowledged some role in.
A spokesperson for Trump’s legal team said Monday there was no update on the filings.
Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report.