A federal judge has rejected requests from news organizations to release memos of former FBI Director James Comey’s conversations with President Donald Trump, adding that publicizing the documents could harm special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Friday sided with the Department of Justice after multiple news organizations, including CNN and USA Today, sued for the public release of Comey’s memos after their Freedom of Information Act requests were denied.
Boasberg agreed with DOJ’s contention that releasing any section of any of the memos, which detail nine conversations the then-FBI director had with Trump, could “could reveal sensitive nonpublic information and compromise the investigation.”
In his testimony before Congress, Comey said that he felt Trump, unlike previous presidents he worked with, might lie about their conversations and therefore he needed to keep a detailed record.
I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document,” Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June. “That combination of things I had never experienced before, but had led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.”
Boasberg agreed with Comey that the very existence of the records is “rather unprecedented.”
“The Court acknowledges that this situation is rather unprecedented; it is not every day that an FBI Director feels the need to memorialize his conversations with a sitting President and then publicize that he did so,” the Obama appointee wrote.
Despite his ruling, Boasberg noted that even Justice Department officials argued that the memos will not remain secret forever. After the conclusion of the investigation, the news organizations could then file another FOIA request for the memos.