Memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote to memorialize his conversations with President Trump will not be released to the public, a federal judge ruled Friday.
CNN, as well as other news outlets and nonprofits, filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Justice Department for copies of the memos. But U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, denied the media’s request for the documents and said instead they would remain in special counsel Robert Mueller’s possession.
“As it prevails here, the Comey memos, at least for now, will remain in the hands of the Special Counsel and not the public,” Boasberg wrote in his ruling.
The federal judge said he has reviewed the memos and is in agreement with the federal government’s argument that releasing Comey’s memos would interfere with Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
“The Court acknowledges that this situation is rather unprecedented,” Boasberg wrote in his opinion. “It is not every day that an FBI Director feels the need to memorialize his conversations with a sitting President and then publicize that he did so.”
In determining whether to allow for the news outlets to gain access to copies of Comey’s memo, Boasberg said he “thought it helpful to seek more specifics as to the Memos’ connection with an ongoing investigation.”
The federal judge revealed in his opinion that Michael Dreeben, described as counsel to the special counsel, testified to the court on Mueller’s probe. FBI agent David Archey, who replaced FBI investigator Peter Strzok in the Russia investigation, also testified to the court in a written declaration.
“Having heard this, the Court is now fully convinced that disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to interfere’ with that ongoing investigation,” Boasberg wrote.
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, and not long after his termination, it was revealed the former FBI director had drafted several memos documenting his communications with the president.
Comey told lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee during testimony last year that he decided to memorialize his encounters with Trump after his first meeting with the president in January 2017.
During his testimony, the former FBI director outlined five conversations with Trump that he drafted memos about, including one encounter during which the president reportedly pressured Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and another during which Trump demanded loyalty from Comey.
Comey also testified he provided a copy of at least one of his memos to Daniel Richman, a friend of the former FBI director and a professor at Columbia Law School.