WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are probing whether former FBI Director James Comey leaked classified information about a Russian intelligence document to reporters, The New York Times reported Thursday citing unnamed people familiar with the investigation.
Specifically, the Times reported, investigators are looking into at least two news articles about the document, which played a central role in Comey’s unusual 2016 decision to announce that Hillary Clinton would not face criminal charges for using a private email server as secretary of state.
The document has been described in various reports as a Russian intelligence analysis of a purported email sent from Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), who was then the chair of the Democratic National Committee, to an official at George Soros’ organization, Open Societies Foundations. Some officials have suggested the document is purposeful Russian misinformation, the Times said.
The Russian analysis of the email reportedly stated that Wasserman-Schultz told the Soros official, Leonard Benardo, that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch would make sure the probe into Clinton’s private email server wouldn’t conclude with charges against Clinton. Wasserman-Schultz and Bernardo, the Times noted, both deny being in contact with each other.
Comey reportedly used the intercepted Russian document to justify to other officials his unusual decision to hold a press conference to announce that Clinton would not face charges — leapfrogging Lynch and ignoring the standard procedure, in which such a decision would not be discussed publicly. If the document leaked, he reportedly suggested, it could undercut Lynch’s authority on the matter.
Trump fired Comey as FBI director in May 2017, triggering a sequence of events that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has repeatedly called for Comey to be investigated for a host of perceived sins against Trump, and has suggested Comey should be jailed.
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