Federal prosecutors in Washington are investigating a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, The New York Times reports.
Prosecutors appear to be focusing on whether the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey illegally provided details to reporters, the report adds.
This is the second time the Justice Department has investigated leaks potentially involving Mr. Comey.
“Law enforcement officials are scrutinizing at least two news articles about the F.B.I. and Mr. Comey, published in The New York Times and The Washington Post in 2017, that mentioned the Russian government document, according to the people familiar with the investigation,” The New York Times reported.
“Hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials obtained the document and provided it to the F.B.I., and both its existence and the collection of it were highly classified secrets, the people said.”
The Times continued, “The document played a key role in Mr. Comey’s decision to sideline the Justice Department and announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. would not recommend that Hillary Clinton face charges in her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.”
From The Daily Wire:
The Times noted that the document in question came from Dutch intelligence operatives who scraped sensitive information from Russian computers, which included an alleged email exchange between then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and an official of leftist billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
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The email, which Wasserman Schultz and the official from Open Society Foundations both deny, apparently suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch would make sure that the Department of Justice did not criminally prosecute then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“That document was one of the key factors that drove Mr. Comey to hold a news conference in July 2016 announcing that investigators would recommend no charges against Mrs. Clinton,” The Times added. “Typically, senior Justice Department officials would decide how to proceed in such a high-profile case, but Mr. Comey was concerned that if Ms. Lynch played a central role in deciding whether to charge Mrs. Clinton, Russia could leak the email.”
The Justice Department’s inspector general previously has concluded that Mr. Comey violated F.B.I. policy. The Times reported that federal prosecutors in New York previously scrutinized Mr. Comey after his personal lawyer and friend, Daniel C. Richman, provided the contents of a memo about Mr. Comey’s interactions with Mr. Trump to a Times reporter at Mr. Comey’s request. Prosecutors declined to charge Mr. Comey with illegally disclosing the material.
Prosecutors are investigating at whether Mr. Richmane played a role in providing the information to reporters about the Russia document and how it figured into Mr. Comey’s rationale about the news conference.
The Department of Justice inspector general has criticized Comey in a previous investigation for illegally leaking sensitive information to the press “in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.”