Skip to main content

James Comey arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 1, 2016.

JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

The White House is ramping up its attacks on former FBI Director James Comey, suggesting – in an extraordinary departure from standard protocol – that the Justice Department should consider prosecuting his conduct.

For the second day in a row, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested during a White House briefing that Comey broke the law when he asked a friend to provide the press with the contents of unclassified memos he'd written about his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Trump fired Comey in May.

Story continues below advertisement

The suggestions mark a highly unusual departure, even in a White House that prides itself in bucking conventions. It is extraordinary for a White House official to suggest the FBI or Justice Department – which is meant to function outside of political sway or influence – investigate anyone, let alone a fired FBI director.

Though White House and Justice Department officials co-ordinate on policy matters, actual investigations are supposed to be conducted without White House input or guidance.

Sanders, reading from prepared remarks Wednesday, said Comey's memos had been created on an FBI computer while he was the director, and were thus official FBI documents.

"Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the privacy act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement that all personnel must sign," she said, adding, "I think that's pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation."

As for what should happen to Comey, she said, "I'm certainly not an attorney but I think that the facts of the case are very clear."

On Tuesday, Sanders said Comey's actions "were improper, and likely could have been illegal."

Asked whether the president would encourage the Justice Department to prosecute Comey, she said, "That's the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at."

Story continues below advertisement

The Justice Department declined to comment.

The ramped-up attacks appeared aimed at justifying Comey's firing and came after Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon called Trump's decision to fire Comey the worst in "modern political history."

Comey's firing prompted a chain of events that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion with Trump campaign aides.

The president's private attorney, Jay Sekulow, also struck on the theme during his radio show Wednesday. "James Comey: Get a Lawyer," a promotion for the episode reads.

Matt Miller, the spokesman for former attorney general Eric Holder, tweeted that Holder "would've been on phone immediately telling the WH to cut this crap out" and that other attorneys general would have as well.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading…

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.