Late Tuesday, the New York Times reported a bombshell that former FBI Director James Comey had authored at least one memo documenting one-on-one discussions he had with President Donald Trump. Most devastating in the reported memo is that the president asked Comey to halt FBI investigations into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
However, other dark hints at the president’s war with the press were also reported in Comey’s memo, including Trump asking the head of the FBI to “consider putting reporters in prison.”
According to the memo, Comey met privately with President Trump following a meeting in the White House with other administration officials such as Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president began the discussion with Comey by condemning “leaks” to the media, and asked the head of the FBI to consider putting journalists in prison for publishing classified information.
No American journalist has been prosecuted for publishing government secrets. But President Trump notably said in April that “it’s OK with me” if the Justice Department brought charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
During a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March this year, Comey testified on the topic of jailing journalists.
“That’s a harder question, as to whether a reporter incurs criminal liability by disclosing classified information,” he replied to an inquiry whether there was a law protecting journalists from prosecution.
Comey authored the memo immediately after meeting with the president as a paper trail documenting his perceived improper efforts by the president to influence an ongoing investigation.
Courts routinely consider FBI agents’ notes as credible evidence regarding the contents of conversations.
The White House has so far been silent on the reports regarding the contents of former director Comey’s memo. White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not take questions from journalists travelling on Air Force One Wednesday morning. President Trump also did not speak with reporters aboard the aircraft. Trump’s twitter feed was also uncharacteristically silent Wednesday morning.