Comey's Trump Memos Used in Defense of NSA Contractor Charged With Leaking

FBI Director James Comey pauses while making a statement at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Comey said the FBI will not recommend criminal charges in its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)


Lawyers for Reality Winner, the National Security Agency contractor charged with leaking a highly classified document, used former FBI Director James Comey’s recently released memos memorializing his version of conversations he had with President Donald J. Trump in early 2017, to defend Winner.

Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017 and indicted on one count of unauthorized disclosure of classified information under the Espionage Act. She is accused of leaking a top-secret NSA report on Russia’s alleged use of hacking techniques called “spearfishing” to gain access to election-related websites and voter-registration databases.

Winner’s lawyers are trying to suppress the statements she made when she was arrested.

According to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, in papers filed in court on April 27, Winner’s attorneys rely upon passages from the memos Comey claims he wrote after meeting with Trump. Comey writes that Trump repeatedly complained about leaks and that Comey replied that he considered them “terrible”:

“I said I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message,” Comey wrote following a February 2017 meeting in the Oval Office. “I said something about it being difficult and he replied that we need to go after the reporters.”

Trump later returned to the subject and suggested reporters might reveal their sources after they “make a new friend” in jail, one memo says. “I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message,” Comey added.


Judge Brian Epp, a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, has not yet ruled on the issue of whether the government should be barred from using her statements against her.

Winner has been denied bail pending her trial, which is set for October 15.


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