DOJ watchdog struggled to track down mystery source for New York Times ‘loyalty’ pledge report – Washington Examiner
The second source mentioned in a New York Times article from May 2017 about a dinner former FBI Director James Comey had with President Trump remains a mystery after the Justice Department inspector general released a report on Comey’s notes memorializing his conversations with Trump.
The 83-page report, released on Thursday, shows Inspector General Michael Horowitz tried to track down the second source, asking former top officials at the FBI to no avail.
The Times article, published on May 11, 2017, described a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House in which Trump asked for Comey’s “loyalty.” “Two people who have heard [Comey’s] account of the dinner” were cited sources. The White House has denied its validity.
Daniel Richman, a friend and attorney to Comey, admitted to Horowitz that he was one of the sources — something which has already been publicly known. Comey claims he gave some of his memos to Richman after Trump fired him on May 9 to leak to the media, hoping this would spark a special counsel investigation.
The watchdog report shows Richman said he knew about the dinner because Comey told him about it while discussing the challenges of his job. Richman said he was called by a Times reporter, with whom he was friends, on May 9 after Comey was fired. Richman told the reporter what he had remembered about the dinner.
At the time of their conversation, Richman said he had not yet seen the memo in which Comey described the meeting. Richman said he did not receive copies of Comey’s memos about his conversations with Trump until days later.
In attempting to track down both sources for that report, the inspector general asked former FBI General Counsel James Baker, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and McCabe’s special counsel Lisa Page if they knew the identities of the two sources.
“They each told us that they did not,” the report said.
Comey’s chief of staff James Rybicki told investigators he had not provided the contents of any of Comey’s memos to “anyone outside the FBI.”
The inspector general interviewed 17 witnesses as part of its investigation into Comey’s handling of his memos about Trump.
Comey wrote the memo on his personal laptop after he arrived home from the dinner. He said he dated it Jan. 28 because he woke up the next morning and made “minor corrections.” He placed a printout of the memo in his personal safe at home and gave a second copy to Rybicki to keep at the FBI. He then said he deleted the file from his laptop. The FBI later determined that six words in the memo qualified as classified information.
Comey instructed Rybicki to show the memo to McCabe and Baker, and then keep it in his possession at FBI headquarters.
Comey also allowed his former chief of staff Chuck Rosenberg to review the memo.
“At that time, Rosenberg was serving as Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and held an active TS/SCI security clearance, but had no official need to know about Comey’s interactions with President Trump,” the report said. Rosenberg told the inspector general he was at Comey’s house during the weekend following Comey’s dinner with Trump.
“According to Rosenberg, Comey handed him a laptop, Rosenberg read the Memo on the laptop screen, and then handed the laptop back to Comey. Comey told the OIG that it was ‘possible’ he allowed Rosenberg to review Memo 2, but stated that he did not remember sharing it with him,” the report said.
Horowitz’s investigation of Comey found that he “violated” FBI policy in his handling of sensitive information, but determined he did not leak classified information to the media. The watchdog criminally referred Comey to the Justice Department for his conduct, but the agency declined to prosecute.