James Comey on Thursday testified that he orchestrated the leak of a memo documenting President Donald Trump’s request that he drop the FBI probe into Michael Flynn in hopes that the news would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the sprawling federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Comey shared the revelation with the Senate Intelligence Committee when asked if he shared his memos with anyone outside of the Justice Department. He said that he was motivated to leak the memos after Trump tweeted that Comey should hope there weren’t “tapes” of their conversations.
“The President tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes,” Comey said. “I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square.”
“And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” he continued. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel, and so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.”
Comey did not reveal the name of the friend who contacted a reporter about the memos, but did say that the individual was a professor at Columbia Law School.
Watch the exchange: