After a long night of testimony, FBI Director James Comey revealed in his opening statement on Thursday that he had “never seen” classified material leaked by his former boss, former President Donald Trump.
Comey said the information leaked to the press about the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “very troubling” and that he was not prepared to “stand by” his actions.
Trump has long been the target of Comey’s ire for leaking the contents of his private conversations with Comey and the FBI, and the public backlash from the leaks has been swift and bipartisan.
After a day of testimony and an emotional dinner with President Donald J. Trump, Comey revealed that he’d had “no idea” the information was classified, but he told the House Judiciary panel he did not believe the information should be classified.
“If you look at the context of this, this is a conversation between a former president and a former FBI director, so I never had any idea it was classified,” Comey said.
“I don’t know if that’s correct or not.
It was never classified, and I don’t believe that is classified.
It just came from me.
I didn’t know that it was.”
The former director went on to describe how he had been advised by Comey not to discuss the information with the press, and he admitted he had a “little too much to drink” after being told not to.
Comey said that he drank a glass of wine while talking to his boss.
“It was my fourth drink of wine, and then I felt that I was really getting drunk, and that I couldn’t even talk to anyone, and my eyes were kind of watering,” Comey recalled.
“It was a very weird moment.
I thought about what the law requires me to do to protect my integrity and my reputation.
So I decided not to do it.”
But Comey added that he did have some regrets about the situation, and his actions during his tenure as FBI director are “not the worst things I’ve done.”
“The worst thing I did was break the law,” Comey told the committee, saying that he lied to Congress, and was not disciplined by the Justice Department for that.
The former FBI chief also revealed that, despite his own feelings, he felt compelled to go public in order to bring about an “independent” investigation into his conduct.
“I thought that if I could be the voice of reason and of law, then the country would change,” Comey explained.
“But the American people didn’t.
They were more interested in seeing me go down.”