Lawyers for Donald Trump have been investigating potential leaks coming out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including its former director James Comey, going back to at least March, as they prepare to take legal action against the former FBI chief following his bombshell testimony Thursday, FOX Business has learned.
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Trump’s private legal team, led by super attorney, Marc Kasowitz, launched its investigation into potential leaks from Comey and his underlings, after a raft of stories began appearing in various publications. Reporters and legal bloggers were citing details on the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the possibility that Trump associates were involved in the matter, FOX Business has learned.
Additionally, Kasowitz and his legal team are preparing a civil complaint against Comey that charges he violated a number of federal laws involving his private conversations with Trump just before his firing in May. The complaint will likely be filed next week with the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The focus of the complaint will be based on the testimony Comey gave to being the person who leaks the information and the way he did it,” said a person involved in the drafting of the complaint who spoke on the condition of anonymity to FOX Business.
Kasowitz didn’t return a call for comment; Comey didn’t return a call to his home in suburban Washington, DC. The FBI had no comment.
The aggressive stance by Kasowitz against Comey represents a change in strategy for Trump’s legal team; initially the power attorney had backed off going to “war” with Comey after reading the former FBI chief’s written statements on his interactions with the president that were presented to the Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, in advance of the hearing.
Kasowitz believed the prepared remarks exonerated Trump, because Comey conceded that Trump wasn’t a target of the Russian interference probe. But he changed course over comments Comey made Thursday in response to questions from the committee, where the former FBI chief accused Trump of slandering him, and possibly obstructing justice before he fired him in May.
During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey disclosed publicly for the first time that he leaked memos about his meetings with Trump, alleging that the president sought to impede the FBI’s inquiry into whether members of the Trump campaign were involved in a Russian government attempt to sway the 2016 election and defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
With that, Kasowitz began planning a “three-pronged legal attack” against Comey, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
A key part of the complaint will be the notion that Comey and his senior staff have been leaking classified information to reporters and legal bloggers for some time; in the complaint Kasowitz is likely to cite alleged conversations with a legal blogger who claims he spoke with Comey about the conversations with Trump involving his investigation.
Still, legal experts say it’s unlikely the complaints by Trump’s legal team will lead to any investigation, let alone future charges.
Stanley Arkin, veteran white collar attorney told FOX Business that the complaint is “a crock of sh*t.”
He went on to say, “They may try because they’re vengeful people. I don’t think what Comey did at this particular point is illegal. It’s just an attempt at a distraction to get away from one of the most open charges ever made against a sitting president.”
John Coffee, professor at Columbia Law School, concurred. “For the inspector general, I would like to know if this is an improper leak,” Coffee said. “These were not governmental records. This was just the personal property of Mr. Comey. If it’s his personal property, it’s not a leak” Coffee said.
Comey’s testimony before the committee represented a seminal event in the smoldering Russian leak investigation as he methodically described what he called pressure by President Trump to impede the FBI investigations and whether Trump associates , including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, colluded with the Russians.
During Comey’s testimony he described a series of meetings that he memorialized in memos where he alleges Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into Flynn and demanded “loyalty” from him, even though as head of the FBI he runs what is considered an independent investigative agency.
Comey raised eyebrows about his own conduct when he admitted that after his firing by Trump in May he leaked the memos to the New York Times through Dan Richman, a Columbia Law School professor. Kasowitz termed the move as a violation of "unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communication with the president” on Thursday at his press conference.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2017
Trump, himself, has remained largely silent about Comey’s disclosures to the committee except for a single tweet on Friday, calling the former FBI director a “leaker” and that he feels “complete vindication.”