Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are investigating a leak from former FBI Director James Comey about a dubious Russian dossier that influenced how he handled the Hillary Clinton email scandal, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Prosecutors are looking into Daniel Richman, a friend of the former FBI director and adviser, who leaked notes Comey had given him about the former director’s private conversations with President Trump in 2017.
Comey leaked the documents after he was fired on the recommendation of then-Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The document was obtained by hackers working on behalf of Dutch intelligence and were provided to the FBI. They included what appeared to be an email between Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was the Democratic National Committee chairwoman at the time, and Leonard Benardo, an official with George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
The former suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch would ensure Clinton, then running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, would not be prosecuted for her use of a private email server to conduct government business.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence assessed that it was highly likely Clinton’s server was hacked by foreign governments.
Comey became concerned that Russia could leak the document if Lynch played a leading role in deciding whether to charge Clinton.
As such, he held a news conference in July 2016 laying out the evidence of lawbreaking by Clinton but stating that “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge Clinton.
Both Wasserman Schultz and Benardo have denied being in contact, raising the prospect that the document may have been a fake.
A report last fall from the Justice Department inspector general harshly criticized Comey for violating FBI rules in disclosing his notes. Conversations with presidents are inherently classified and, thus, leaking the contents of those conversations is a violation of law, experts have said.
The IG’s office made a criminal referral over Comey’s conduct to the Justice Department but it declined to prosecute.