White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday it was “pretty clean and clear” that James Comey broke federal law by orchestrating a leak of memos he wrote as FBI director — but she also said it was “not up to me to decide” whether his actions were illegal or not.
“The memos that Comey leaked were created on an FBI computer while he was the director. He claims they were private property, but they clearly followed the protocol of an official FBI document. Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign,” Sanders told reporters at the afternoon press briefing.
“I think that’s pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation,” she added.
President Donald Trump fired Comey from his post as FBI director in May and eventually said he dismissed him because of the ongoing investigation — which Comey was overseeing — into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.
Comey detailed what he said were uncomfortable interactions between him and Trump in a series of memos that were later described in news reports. In highly anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill, Comey said he told a friend about the memos and encouraged him to share information about them with a reporter.
While Comey said that those memos were unclassified and that he did nothing wrong by sharing them, the White House has dismissed his testimony as inaccurate and alleged that he broke the law by leaking the memos.
Sanders doubled down on that claim on Wednesday, acknowledging that while she is “certainly not an attorney,” “I think that the facts of the case are very clear.”
But she seemed to back down slightly when a reporter followed up and asked if she believed leaking the memos was illegal.
“The Department of Justice has to look into any allegations of whether or not something’s illegal or not. That’s not up to me to decide,” she said.
“What I’ve said and what I’m talking about are facts,” she continued. “James Comey, leaking of information, questionable statements under oath, politicizing investigation, those are real reasons for why he was fired. And the president’s decision was 100 percent right, which we’ve said multiple times over and over. And in fact I think the more and more we learn the more and more that’s been vindicated.”