Federal Lawyers Ask Judge For ‘Secret Testimony’ To Block Release of Comey Memos
Over the summer, conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch announced it filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for the metadata for the memos written by fired FBI Director James Comey memorializing his conversations with President Donald Trump.
Judicial Watch is also requesting records about Comey’s FBI-issued laptop computer or other electronic devices and records about how Comey managed his records while he was FBI Director (Judicial Watch, Inc., v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 17-cv-01520)). The metadata information may include details about when the memos were created or edited and by whom.
Via Judicial Watch:
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on July 27, 2017, after the Department of Justice failed to respond to a June 21 FOIA request seeking:
- Any and all records depicting metadata for any and all memoranda written by former Director James Comey memorializing any meetings and/or telephonic communications with President Donald Trump, including metadata for the “original” electronic versions of the memoranda and any electronic copies of the memoranda that were subsequently created or saved. For purposes of this request, the term “metadata” includes, but is not limited to, dates and times of creation, modification, transmission, and/or retrieval of any electronic copy of any such memorandum currently or formerly in the possession of the FBI and/or drafted, modified, transmitted, and/or received via any FBI-owned computer or other electronic device.
- Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the return, disposition, or handling of any laptop computer or other electronic device previously issued to and/or utilized by former Director James Comey.
- Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the records management and preservation procedures utilized by former Director James Comey. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all records of communication between Mr. Comey and any other individual or entity regarding, concerning, or related to any such procedures or related regulations.
In an earlier, related FOIA lawsuit, Judicial Watch sued the Justice Department for information about former FBI Director James Comey’s memorandum written after his meeting with President Trump regarding potential interference by the Russians in the 2016 presidential election (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01189).
President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton had this to say about Comey’s memos:
“We want to figure out when Mr. Comey wrote or edited his memos and how his records were created and managed by the FBI. The fact that Mr. Comey walked out of the FBI with these sensitive documents tells us something isn’t right at the FBI and Justice Department. We are in court to get answers.”
Last month, Judicial Watch warned the FBI of its obligations under federal law to uncover records unlawfully removed by Mr. Comey.
Fitton also repeatedly says the fact that Judicial Watch has to sue for Comey’s memos in court after they were already given to the press is a scandal in itself.
Months later, we lear government lawyers are asking a judge to block the release of the memos out of concern they will hinder the Russia interference investigation.
Releasing the memos, the government said, could “reveal the scope and focus of the investigation and thereby harm the investigation” and any prosecutions. To prevent that harm, the government requested District Judge James E. Boasberg, who sits in Washington, DC, allow them to secretly make their case, citing an unnamed “FBI employee” who would testify only behind closed doors about why the Comey memos could not be disclosed. “Publicly explaining in any greater detail why the release of the Comey Memos would be detrimental to the pending investigation would itself disclose law enforcement sensitive information that could interfere with the pending investigation,” the government wrote.
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr told Politico recently that the panel reached an agreement wherein they will receive the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote.
The memos allegedly recount the interactions Comey had with President Trump. Both the House and Senate committees are looking into alleged Russian interference in the election and have continually tried to obtain them.
Burr commented that “I’ve got a commitment” but did not mention who committed the memos.
Comey’s testimony back in June before the Senate Intelligence Committee was a major let down for those looking to catch the President, but it also opened up new angles to the investigation and it was revealed that Comey gave some of his memos to friend Daniel Richman in order to leak to the New York Times.