After months of resisting, the Justice Department has provided Congress with copies of several memos written by former FBI Director James Comey.
The move comes as House Republicans have escalated criticism of the department, threatening to subpoena the documents and questioning officials. In a letter sent to three Republican House committee chairmen Thursday evening, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that the department is sending a classified version of the memos and an unclassified version. The department released Boyd’s letter publicly but did not release the memos.
Justice officials had allowed some lawmakers to view the memos but had never provided copies to Congress. Boyd wrote that the department had also provided the memos to several Senate committees.
Conversations detailed in hearings
Comey is on a publicity tour to promote his new book, A Higher Loyalty. He revealed last year that he had written the memos after conversations with President Donald Trump, who later fired him.
In a Senate hearing in June, he told Congress, “I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function.”
Details from some memos were made public in media accounts in the days after he was fired. At the Senate hearing, Comey detailed his conversations with Trump.
According to Comey, one memo recounts a February request from Trump, during a private meeting in the Oval Office, that Comey end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Boyd wrote in the letter that the department “consulted the relevant parties” and concluded that releasing the memos would not adversely affect any ongoing investigations. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president.
He said the decision to allow the release of the memos “does not alter the department’s traditional obligation to protect from public disclosure witness statements and other documents obtained during an ongoing investigation.”
Comey said in an interview Thursday with CNN that he’s fine with the Justice Department turning his memos over to Congress.
“I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos is I’ve been consistent since the very beginning right after my encounters with President Trump and I’m consistent in the book and tried to be transparent in the book as well,” he said.
Last week, the GOP chairmen of three House committees demanded the memos by Monday. The Justice Department asked for more time, and the lawmakers agreed.