We now have a pretty good idea why Republican lawmakers released former FBI Director James Comey’s prepared remarks the day before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
It enabled the Republican National Committee (RNC) to release the following statement regarding Comey’s opening statement:
President Trump was right Director Comey’s statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along — he was never under investigation.
And perhaps just as importantly Comey’s statement contains an explanation as to why Comey didn’t want to say that Trump wasn’t under investigation in a public statement — it could create a duty to correct.
In the section of Comey’s prepared remarks concerning the March 30 phone call Comey revealed the reason for his reluctance:
I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
We spoke with Joseph Lewis, who spent 27 years with the Bureau before retiring in 2004 as deputy assistant director for the FBI’s organized crime branch.
“Once you make that a story to the public,” Lewis said, “if it turns out that it’s not accurate or not true, then depending on how public you went with it, then you have to go back and try to clean things up.” In other words, if Comey said publicly that Trump was not under investigation, then if Trump were to become a focus of that investigation, Comey would feel an obligation to make that change public as well.
This is exactly what Comey did to Hillary Clinton last year.