Is Comey’s Culpability A Simple Question of Math? Senate Presses Justice Department On Classification of Memos

440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitI have previously expressed my skepticism over the claims of James Comey that he had a right to remove memos from the FBI and leak them to the media through a friend.  As I have previously written, Comey was in clear violation of FBI rules and may have knowingly removed classified material.  According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, there is growing evidence to suggest that Comey not only violated FBI guidelines (which is clear) but that he violated federal law in the removal and disclosure of classified material.  Indeed, it may come down to simple math.  Four of the memos that Comey removed are now believed to be classified.  He reportedly gave four memos to his friend to leak to the media.  That would suggest that at least one memo given to Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman was classified.

I recently wrote a column about the lack of objectivity in the media in the coverage of the Russian investigation, and specifically, the conduct of former FBI director James Comey. I have raised professional and legal concerns over Comey’s removal of memos from the U.S. Justice Department and his leaking of at least one memo to the media.

Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stating that he and his staff had reviewed the Comey memos in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at the FBI and the Senate. The use of the SCIF was made necessary because of the classified content of most of the memos.  He specifically noted that “of the seven memos, four are marked classified at the ‘SECRET’ or ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ levels.” Since”only three did not contain classified information,” it would seem that a delivery of four of the seven memos by definition means that Comey not only removed classified FBI material but leaked at least one classified memo to an uncleared individual.

“If it’s true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information.”

Math can be a real menace.


82 thoughts on “Is Comey’s Culpability A Simple Question of Math? Senate Presses Justice Department On Classification of Memos”

  1. When it comes to Comey, Hillary, Obama, Power, McCabe, Rosenstein, Mueller, Holder, Rice, Lynch, Bill, Lerner, Yates, Farkes, Abedin et al., why do we begin with the defense rather than the prosecution.

    Stop telling us how innocuous and innocent these corrupt traitors are and file the charges for their manifest crimes.

    Let’s get this party started.

      1. Conducting a coup d’etat in America. Abuse of the power of government against the People. Racketeering. Conspiracy. Usurpation. Corruption. Color of law, authority and office et al.

        1. Is jaywalking in there somewhere? As for the coup d’etat, wouldn’t Hillary be in the White House if that had happened?

  2. Some things are more important than the letter of the Law. Even if you have to pay your dues, you can still smile in the mirror and face your fellow citizens.

    1. Well said though sure to fall on deaf ears in this crowd where integrity is not valued nor exhibited.

    2. Some things are more important than the letter of the Law.

      What things would those be and who gets to decide?

  3. “He reportedly gave four memos to his friend to leak to the media. That would suggest that at least one memo given to Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman was classified.”

    Keyword: “reportedly”

    Since we’re talking math here, it wouldn’t be proper to overlook that “reportedly,” because in math terminology, that “reportedly” is what’s known as an unknown — a variable concerning which there is insufficient data available to assign it any value. Yes, information as been “reported” — but it’s dangerous to do math on the basis of Big-Foot sightings or other things that have been “reported.”

    Saddest of all is that the new norm is to take as fact information connected to that word, “reportedly.”

    Does anyone know precisely WHEN it was that our government went full-tilt into the shadows and began requiring the citizenry to cobble together an understanding of what the heck our government is doing from leaks, speculation, and self-serving statements by politicians? I wouldn’t be surprised if the process began in earnest back in 2013 when Congress legalized domestic use of propaganda against the American citizenry. I believe the thinking behind that decision wouldn’t survive much scrutiny or analysis.

      1. Perhaps you’d prefer Tom Fitton if you find Styxx’s unwaxed shirtlessness offensive. Wouldn’t wanna trigger any trauma.

    1. The cat-fishing photo of “autumn” never gets old, similar to Allan’s “satanistas” .

  4. Whenever I read excuses being given for the mishandling of classified information, I have to question if they actually care about national security. Every E-1 in the military is trained to assume every communication/document produced is classified unless otherwise directed. One other key element in the handling of classified information is the Need to Know. Even if one is certain a piece of information has been declassified, they still have a responsibility to question if a potential recipient has the Need to Know the information. James Comey’s handling of information (classified or not) violates this latter element of Need to Know, by willfully providing FBI memos to his friend for the intent of that information being provided to the media. This Clinton E.O. provides the holder of classified information clear guidance:

    Sec. 2.5. Specific Access Requirement.

    (a) Employees who have been determined to be eligible for access to classified information shall be given access to classified information only where there is a need-to-know that information.

    (b) It is the responsibility of employees who are authorized holders of classified information to verify that a prospective recipient’s eligibility for access has been granted by an authorized agency official and to ensure that a need-to-know exists prior to allowing such access, and to challenge requests for access that do not appear well-founded.

    1. Olly…

      Since these issues with classified e-mails and memos with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey have been in the news, I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of people have not served in the military or in government service. Most people have zero experience and little true understanding of the requirements regarding handling classified information. Therefore, it means little to them and they are susceptible to the “spin.”

      On the other hand, people like us who have had years of experience dealing with classified information and have been through countless training sessions on the rules and laws governing its dissemination shake our heads in wonderment about the obvious double standard and lack of justice in the political arena.

      What I do know is this… If I had taken a single communication from JWICS (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System used for Top Secret/SSI information) or SIPRNET (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network used for Confidential to Secret Level information) and sent it to my home computer or written the information into a memo and handed it to a friend… I would still be in jail.

      Although not prescribed in the law, “intent” was shown by the simple fact that the information was removed from the source network.

      Had I done 1/1000th of what Mrs. Clinton and her aides did I would have been immediately sent to court martial, my security clearance revoked, reduced in paygrade to E-1, dishonorably discharged, and sent to prison. Pension? Gone. VA Benefits? Gone.

      The sad part is that the exact same statutes apply to me, Mrs. Clinton, and to Mr. Comey. There are no exceptions and at some point they all signed the same “document of understanding” that I had to sign acknowledging their understanding of the statutes regarding classified information.

      I too question their concern about national security, but more importantly I question their concern for the rule of law.

      1. I too question their concern about national security, but more importantly I question their concern for the rule of law.

        Your last point should be our highest concern as there is no national security if the law does not apply to everyone equally. I can accept the fact not everyone agrees on the ends of government policy. In a free society we have the right to desire our government do everything our hearts desire. However, what keeps our society free and our rights secure is a government that respects the means to the ends, an electorate that knows the difference and is willing to hold them accountable.

        1. “… there is no national security if the law does not apply to everyone equally.”

          “*** Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. ***” Justice Brandeis, OLMSTEAD v. UNITED STATES 277 U.S. 438 (1928)

  5. “Seven of the memos that Comey removed are now believed to be classified. He reportedly gave four memos to his friend to leak to the media. That would suggest that at least one memo given to Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman was classified.”
    I must need a math refresher course because unless we know how many memos Jim took in total from the FBI how can we say giving 4 to his pal means “at least one” was classified. What if he took a hundred and seven were classified and he gave four away? Later in the article it says only 4 were marked “confidential” or “secret” out of the 7. Is that different from “classified”? Any savants our there to answer that?

    1. Word problems are the bugaboo of the math deficient. This is a word problem. They have to be read carefully . In this case, the answer in a multiple choice would have to be “insufficient information”.

      1. Word problems are the bugaboo of the math deficient.

        Guilty as charged. 🙂 But the handling of classified or unclassified information is not about the math but security. Focusing on the math or in this case whether it was 1, 4 or 7 documents that were classified, diminishes the importance of information security protocols. We seem to have become desensitized to the risk to our national security over political agendas. This should not be a politicized issue. To borrower a quote: A single violation of information security is a tragedy; a million violations of information security is a statistic.

      2. Actually there is sufficient information: “…tonight we find out that every single Comey memo was classified at the time, per Judicial Watch director of investigations Chris Farrell – who has a signed declaration from the FBI’s chief FOIA officer to that effect:

        We have a sworn declaration from David Hardy who is the chief FOIA officer of the FBI that we obtained just in the last few days, and in that sworn declaration, Mr. Hardy says that all of Comey’s memos – all of them, were classified at the time they were written, and they remain classified. -Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch”

        1. Judicial Watch, thanks for the chuckle. So irrelevant I can not remember the loser’s name. How did that Clinton investigation work out. Dumber than a brick.

          1. How did that Clinton investigation work out?

            Thanks for the chuckle! Just another brick in the wall.

        2. So Grassley’s statement that three of seven memos were not classified is false? And did Grassley review all of memos that Comey allegedly removed from the FBI? And how ma.ny memos was Hardy referencing? Not enough information

        3. Classified by whom? At the time they were written ?? Was this classification marked on any of them? If so, by whom?

    2. This is really pretty simple. Let me rephrase the problem! Bob snatched all 7 apples from his Mum’s apple basket. Unbeknownst to Bob, his Mum put ExLax in four of the seven apples, just to teach apple thieves a lesson!

      Bob, in order to impress his girlfriend, Ethylene, gave her four of the apples, which she promptly ate up! What are the odds that Ethylene swallowed at least one does of ExLax???

      100%! Because there are only three apples left, and even if all three of them have ExLax, that still leaves one apple out there with ExLax, which Ethylene ate. If she is particularly unlucky, then all 4 of them could have been mickey-ed, or maybe 3 or 2. But there is definitely at least one of the apples that is full of ExLax. No sh*t! 🙂

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  6. The FBI is a horrible crime sykdicate. J. Edgar Hoover was behind the murder of John Kennedy, Martlin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. He formed the Mkultra Program and Cointel Program. Blog those two words folks. The FBI needs to be curbed. Comey needs to be sent to Memphis to that Lorraine Hotel.

    KGB, CIA… be eye bicki eye bi o bee
    Bicki eye, bidki O boo boo.
    FBI is worse.

    1. Yes, totally disband the FBI, and the CIA. Replace it with trusted Republican operatives. Rename it as Geheime Staatspolizei.

  7. Comey has always been a “holier-than-thou” individual. He believes that he has a right to break the rules if it’s for a good cause – as determined by himself. Usually his basic motives are good (in my view). But his other priority is making himself look good.

  8. They ,our illustrious G, could nail anyone for whatever-should they want to. But to charge the once FBI head will be an embarrassment and the beginnings of investigating cases he was involved .

  9. Are we finally at the point where the presence of lawyers in political office has ensured a complete absence of truth and candor in government and media coverage of government? Nope, we are well past that point.

    Of course HRC and her cronies (Mills, Abedin, etc.) committed crimes for which the rest of us would be prosecuted. What happened here is not all that hard to figure out. Comey and the DOJ/FBI knew there was criminal wrongdoing but did not want to initiate a Constitutional crisis by recommending indictment of the Democratic candidate for president. They would have been recommending criminal charges against Hillary. Remember folks, the heir presumptive? HRC was considered a lock to be president and Comey, et. al., clearly acted to avoid an unprecedented situation which would have….? What would it have done? Not sure and neither were they so they punted.

    The motivations here are not hard to determine. What happened to common senses?

    1. Had Comey recommended criminal charges against Clinton, and if criminal charges had been filed against Clinton before the election, it’s doubly doubtful that Clinton would have been . . . elected President. Huh? What??? Thar she blows again. Rumor has it that Clinton lost the election. I’ve read it right here on this blawg more times than remember. Honestly, I don’t see what Warspite’s getting at with Comey’s supposedly common sense approach to avoiding a Constitutional crisis by punting, instead.

      1. Comey put da shiv in Clinton a week before the election. Had he recommended charges in da summer, Biden would have stepped up and T rump would be runnin casinos and hotels. I blame Comey for da mess because he did not tell us T rump and his mobster fellas were under the FBI investigation the same as da Clinton.

        1. T rump should have fired da Comey on day one but he did not because he mistakenly thought Comey was his friend because he put da shiv in Hillary and stayed shut up about da Russian investigation.

          1. When Trump asked Comey to sign a loyalty oath, he knew Comey’s answer was the one he wanted because Trump’s knowledge is limited to his wants.

  10. Professor Turley should call the White House–stat–and beg Trump to fire Comey before it’s too late.

  11. I am puzzled as to just who classified these memos. Who was the classifying authority? Grassley? Were they so classified at the time Comey took them, or after the fact? Turley merely says that these memos “are now believed to be classified.” By whom? There is always a lot of after-the-fact classification, usually for purposes of CYA or to impugn others.

    For that matter, why were supposedly memos classified as only confidential or secret, handled in a SCIF? A SCIF is almost invariably used for TS/SCI or codeword access material, and not generally for lesser stuff.

    1. Where Comey’s concerned he was proscribed by law as to the conduct of FBI Agents from disclosing anything relating to an investigation just for starters. Your question was settled last year. and the level of the classification or required handling of such goverenment documents which included his memos as Director are not excusable by their relative status.

      Nor was giving Clinton false information in using ‘intent’ as an excuse. Intent is not part of that crime. So if Comey did not intend to screw up it matters not he did. and if he intended it matters not he automaticalloy is an accessory for defending a criminal act

      1. alloy means it’s tough to defend on a charge using an non existent element when the doer subsequently admitted to the act using a non applicable defense.

    2. Jays S asked, “[W]hy were supposedly memos classified as only confidential or secret, handled in a SCIF?”

      That’s a fine question, Jay S. But what I really want to know is: Has anyone looked at (or counted) the actual memos that Comey gave to Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman? Since when did basic math hinge upon guesswork? Lordy, no!

  12. What a coincidence that on the night the NY Times reports Mueller has independent confirmation via handwritten notes from Reince Priebus confirming Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. Turley comes out with a blog based on multiple suppositions attacking Comey.

    For those who only get there news from Fox and Breitbart. He also ordered his White House Counsel Don McGahn to try to talk Sessions out of recusing himself because he wanted someone to protect him.

    The man (Trump) is getting more and more desperate each day and his behavior is more erratic. The end is not going to be pretty.

    1. That’s your opinion and interpretation. But it’s going to take more to get past this one where we find ‘intent is not a required nor even mentioned element of the crimes committed which means Comey was either incompetent or set Clinton up. with a false sense of security.

      But opening up the rest of it with the latest icing ont he cake will put a lot of staffers in jeapordy and really your opinion is last years rahrah and at this point worthless.

      With Huma Gotcha ready to go states evidence to stay out of prison and that one is cut and dried those staffers going back to the statute of limitations. whoops… there isn’t one…. better have their CYA memos filed away in a safe spot. and be ready to make their own deals ….if they are quick enough
      But for the benefit of Mr. Day late and two cents short… read it weep and come up with something that applies. As the left you to stay . yesterdays news move on.

      My the various former mainstream media are surre panicking and so are the programmers of the DNC Robo Cloone collectives

      Here it is again!

      18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information

      (a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, *or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—

    2. First: This article provides conclusive proof (you know, racist math) that Comey committed a felony. You ignore that fact. Do you give all enemies of your enemies a pass for felony crimes? You don’t believe that all should be ruled by the same laws, do you?

      The NYTimes? Your favorite fake news source?

      The end? You mean January of 2025, after he replaces at least 2 more SCOTUS with stalwart conservatives?

      We’ve only been waiting a year for charges against Trump. Still and forever: nothing. What’s your preferred meds for your TDS symptoms? Please quote the statute Trump violated if he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation (an claim for which you have no proof)?

      1. You are one of my favorite fake news broadcasters; now, if you could only do something about your ignorance.

    3. 2nd paragraph: what exactly is wrong with what you typed, presuming it actually happened? Occasionally you seem like you are reasonable. Tripe like this is typical TDS symptom.

      What is wrong with Trump’s attorney attempting to talk Sessions out of recusing himself to protect Trump? Do you claim this is sinister or illegal? Like a pathetic child grasping at straws to justify God knows what.

      Look, we get it, you hate your gal lost, and can only blame everyone in the world except your candidate for being a stupid whiney loser (remind you of anyone you know intimately?) who did not even visit several swing states she lost.

      1. See you ask a reasonable question and then follow it up with a stream of insults. It further documents his desire to obstruct justice. Possibly like putting Rudy Guliani’s law partner in as Attorney General for the district that handles Trump Tower and financial crimes. He is trying to set up the “rigged system” he always complains about. He wanted to keep in place an Attorney General that wouldn’t prosecute him. But the AG isn’t supposed to work for the President but the people. That’s what would be wrong with it.

        1. Exerpted from the NYT article by Michael S. Schmidt linked below:

          “Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

          Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.

          Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.”

          I’m still not a lawyer. But Turley is. Surely Turley knows whether or not intent is an element of the crime known as obstruction of justice. Perhaps Trump’s Tweet-storms are the least of Trump’s troubles.

    4. E,:”The man (Trump) is getting more and more desperate each day and his behavior is more erratic.”
      I’d argue the contrary.
      Trump appears very consistent to me.
      What’s next he has unsightly ingrown toenails?
      Keep dreaming man, keep dreaming.
      Please name one person who you support for President in 2020.
      You Trump haters have been napping too long and you all keep waking up to your own nightmare, Hillary lost.
      Do something other than project some phantom event that will bring him down please.

      1. You may be right about obstruction of justice being insufficient to the task of removing Trump from office directly via impeachment and conviction in The Senate. However, impeachment and acquittal in The Senate on a charge of obstruction of justice might make it a whole lot harder for Trump to win The Iowa Caucuses and The New Hampshire Primary, let alone the general election for President in 2020.

      1. Linda, when cornered a rat reverts to juvenile delinquency. Being a flower, to begin with, a narcissist can only wilt, wither and perish.

  13. It makes no difference what crimes Comey, the Clintons, the Bushes, and any number of current or former Deep State mole operatives have committed. As dedicated moles for the Deep State they are UNTOUCHABLE. The Deep State always takes care of their own.

    Did you ever wonder, for example, why during the financial crisis in which the most powerful financial institutions were committing massive fraud, the only person to get indicted and convicted was Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, a former small-time Goldman Sachs bond trader found liable for fraud for his minor role in a failed mortgage deal that cost investors $1 billion in a debacle that foreshadowed the financial crisis?

    Wonder no more. The reason is simple. All the head of the major banking institutions are members of the Deep State.

    1. More exerpts from Michael Schmidt’s NYT article linked above:

      “Among the other episodes, Mr. Trump described the Russia investigation as “fabricated and politically motivated” in a letter that he intended to send to the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, but that White House aides stopped him from sending. Mr. Mueller has also substantiated claims that Mr. Comey made in a series of memos describing troubling interactions with the president before he was fired in May.

      The special counsel has received handwritten notes from Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, showing that Mr. Trump talked to Mr. Priebus about how he had called Mr. Comey to urge him to say publicly that he was not under investigation. The president’s determination to fire Mr. Comey even led one White House lawyer to take the extraordinary step of misleading Mr. Trump about whether he had the authority to remove him.”

      Now we really have to wonder what Trump is so worried about. If, as Trump has said from the beginning and ever after down to the current day, that the whole Russia-thing is a “made up story” and “fake news” not to mention “the greatest political witch-hunt in history,” then why was Trump so intent upon getting Comey publically to say that Trump, himself, was not under investigation?

      P. S. How much better off today might Trump have been had he not fired Comey?

  14. Turley, the last sentence would obtain a failing grade from my tenth grade English teacher. Surely you could learn to proofread?

    1. In my day we finished with english grammar etc. in the 8th grade and were running full debates and giving speeches by the 10th grade. By 12th competing state wide. Now you get social promotions up through junior college and beyond.

    2. He does not proof read, and has mentioned it several times. Read his resume. He’s more than busy. This whole blog is pure charity on his part, for which we all owe him a debt. Get over it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      With all due respect. Sorry if it seems harsh.

    3. You’re a genius!

      If you were a mosquito, you would have been swatted already.

  15. In a just society, the law applies equally to everyone.

    A sailor got a dishonorable discharge and spent time in prison merely for taking a few photos of the nuclear submarine where he worked. He claimed he was excited to show his girlfriend and family how cool it was. Other personnel had taken similar photos, but he was made a scapegoat. He’s lost his career, and has a black mark on his record that impacts employment. His home will shortly be foreclosed upon, and he’s been pleading with Trump to pardon him.

    Meanwhile, Comey gave Hillary a pass on gross negligence in regards to handling classified information, and for cutting the header off in order to give classified documents to people with no clearance. Comey himself knowingly passed on classified information to someone with no clearance.

    This double standard in the law is what makes the tension rise in an uneasy populace. We have two sets of laws, one for the well-connected government ruling class, and another for us peasants. Soon, you will have a people clamoring that the law should not apply to them, either, just to make it fair. This is not a good trend for longevity.

    1. besides which his use of intent failed to take into account 18-798 has no such element. Intent means nothing either way only the act is an element of the crime.

      1. Karen S. has good instincts. However, there is one troubling paragraph from the article linked above:

        “His problems began when a worker at the naval base found Saucier’s cellphone near a dumpster and, while going through it, found the photographs. The worker brought the cellphone to a retired Navy petty officer, who then notified federal agencies about the sensitive submarine pictures.”

        If the sailor at issue has a perfectly innocent explanation for the loss of his cellphone near the dumpster, then Trump should grant Saucier’s request for a pardon.

    2. You were da one one that screamed class warfare when some of da posters mentioned how da rich were favored in da laws of taxation. Yes it is hard to nail da billionaires for breaking da laws. They can afford fleets of lawyers, lobbyists and accountants. K street ponied up and got a good tax bill for da billionaires. Hillary hires some good lawyers.T rump is richer by his accounts but hires some crap lawyers because he is stupid.

      1. Sorry to break it to you, Ken, but Karen is not a fair bot. She prides herself on being verbosely stupid.

        1. Shared properties- Karen’s pedantry and a slow motion accident between two inert objects .

      2. It was reported that Trump couldn’t get good lawyers to sign on because (1) they didn’t think they would get paid (2) they didn’t want their reputations sullied by association and (3) they knew their client wouldn’t listen to their advice e.g. Dowd throwing himself under the bus after Trump’s culpable tweet.

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