President Donald Trump accused former FBI director James Comey of leaking classified information to the media in a tweet Monday morning. It seems, however, that the Fox News segment where Trump received this information is false, CNN reports.
“James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” the tweet read. The president tweeted this right after retweeting the following Fox News clip, which was tweeted by “Fox and Friends” with the caption “Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information.”
Well, that’s partially true. The report cited by Fox News comes from The Hill; the article in question does say that in some of Comey’s memos–which memorialized conversations he had before he was fired–did contain classified information. But it’s unclear whether the memo he gave to friend Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, who then leaked it to the The New York Times, was top secret.
Though The Hill’s report found “four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter,” it also found that it was “unclear when the documents were shown to Congress whether the information deemed secret or confidential was classified at the time Comey wrote the memos or determined so afterward.”
Richman told CNN the document he was given”was not classified at the time and to my knowledge is not classified now.” Comey has also already testified before Congress that the memo in question was not classified.
The bottom line: The Hill’s report is essentially saying that of the seven memos written by Comey, four of them contained secret information. But it does not specify which memos, or who they were given to, Fox News’ reporting on this story did not take those nuances into account.