- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2017

The FBI on Friday refused to hand over to The Washington Times unclassified memos that former Director James Comey wrote describing his meetings with President Trump because they are part of a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding.

The denial of the documents, whose existence was made known and whose release was encouraged by Mr. Comey himself, was a response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Times. It came as CNN and The New York Times filed lawsuits against the FBI after the bureau failed to respond to similar requests within a specified amount of time.

“The records responsive to your request are law enforcement records,” states the FBI’s FOIA denial letter sent Friday. “There is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and release of the information in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”

During testimony before Congress last week, Mr. Comey admitted said he wrote at least one of the memos in an unclassified way so it would be available for use in an investigation. He also said that he had a friend act as a go-between to share details from some of the memos with the New York Times — with the hope that it would spur the Justice Department to announce an independent prosecutor to probe the case.

Mr. Comey said that he had turned over his memos to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

The former director testified last week that he felt compelled to take notes of his interactions with Mr. Trump because he was afraid the president would “lie” about them.

He said decided to leak the contents of the memos after his firing to combat Mr. Trump’s tweet on May 12, when the president warned that Mr. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”

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