DOJ turns over redacted Comey memos to congressional committees

The Justice Department on Thursday gave lawmakers redacted versions of five memos kept by former FBI Director James Comey to document meetings with President Trump, a congressional source told Fox News.

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The source told Fox News the memos were turned over to the House Judiciary, Oversight and Intelligence Committees following threats from Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to subpoena Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for failing to meet the deadline to submit the documents.

In a statement to lawmakers, the Justice Department said it had redacted classified information in the memos, but would provide an unredacted version on Friday. 

Goodlatte, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had set a Monday deadline for the Justice Department to turn over the Comey memos.

In a joint statement, the committee chairmen said the memos "are significant for both what is in them and what is not.

"Former Director Comey's memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated," they said. "The memos also made clear the 'cloud' President Trump wanted lifted was not the Russian interference in the 2016 election cloud, rather it was the salacious, unsubstantiated allegations related to personal conduct leveled in the [Steele] dossier.

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"The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened," Goodlatte, Gowdy and Nunes went on. "While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation."

In an interview with CNN earlier Thursday, Comey said it was "fine by me" if Congress and the public sees the memos.

"I don't care. I don't have any views on it. I'm totally fine with transparency," Comey said. "I've tried to be transparent throughout this, and I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos is I've been consistent since the very beginning, right after my encounters with President Trump."

The memos were written by Comey in early 2017 and dated Jan. 7, Jan. 28, Feb. 8, Feb. 14, March 30, and April 11. The document cache also included a March 1 email from Comey to his then-chief of staff James Rybicki in which Comey discussed a brief phone call with Trump that did not touch on any aspect of the Russia investigation.

Fox News has reported that Comey penned seven memos to memorialize conversations with Trump, with four of the memos marked classified at the “Secret” or “Confidential” levels, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who viewed the memos with his staff in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at the FBI and the Senate because the FBI deemed the “majority of the memos” to be “classified.”

Comey told CNN that he had written "somewhere between five and ten" memos of his conversations with Trump, before adding that "there may be seven, there may be eight, I don't remember."

The former FBI Director also confirmed that some of the memos were classified "when I created them," but he was not sure how many fit that description.

Grassley, in January, pressed Rosenstein over whether the memo Comey shared with Richman contained classified information.

"According to press reports, Professor Daniel Richman of Columbia Law School stated that Mr. Comey provided him four of the seven memoranda and encouraged him to 'detail [Comey’s] memos to the press,'" Grassley wrote.

"If it’s true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information," the letter continued.

The release of the memos came in the midst of Comey’s media blitz to promote his new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” which was released this week. Comey has appeared on multiple networks for high-profile interviews and media appearances, where he has discussed the book and slammed former Obama administration colleagues, including former President Barack Obama.

GOP REPS REFER COMEY, MCCABE, CLINTON FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Also this week, nearly a dozen House Republicans sent a criminal referral to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney John Huber for Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Justice Department officials over their handling of the Clinton email probe and the early stages of the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

Comey said he learned of that criminal referral in an appearance on ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday.

“The accusations are not true,” Comey said. “Let’s let the institution do its work.”

Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.