Former FBI Director James Comey has defended his decision to release memos about Donald Trump’s behaviour to members of the press, claiming the action was not illegal and that the president's claims to the contrary were “made up”.
Asked at a CNN town hall if there was any merit to Mr Trump’s claim that he had broken the law, Mr Comey responded: "I don't, but that won't surprise you … In fact, I think he's just making stuff up."
Mr Comey recently admitted to releasing some of the unclassified memos he had written about his meetings with Mr Trump after the president fired him last May. The release, he said, was an attempt to spark a special counsel investigation into the president’s possible ties to Russia.
Mr Trump responded to the former FBI director's admission by accusing him of breaking the law.
“James Comey’s Memos are Classified, I did not Declassify them,” he tweeted. “They belong to our Government! Therefore, he broke the law!”
The Justice Department's inspector general is also probing whether Mr Comey leaked classified information when he discussed the contents of the memos, according to multiple reports.
Mr Comey has previously deemed Mr Trump's calls to jail him "not normal".
"The president of the United States is calling for the imprisonment of a private citizen, as he's done for a whole lot of people who criticise him. That is not acceptable in this country," he said in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America.
He added: "The president doesn't get to decide who goes to jail."
At the town hall, Mr Comey took issue with the characterisation that he had “leaked” the documents, emphasising that the memos he released were unclassified and that he was a private citizen at the time.
Mr Comey said he put together a legal team of three people after he was fired, to whom he gave four unclassified memos. He also shared one memo with his friend Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia University, and instructed him to bring it to the New York Times.
Along with the allegation that Mr Trump had asked for an oath of loyalty, the memos contained claims that the president had pressured Mr Comey to drop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and complained that the Russia investigation was a “cloud” hanging over his head.
Mr Trump has denied these claims, and called the entire Russia investigation a “witch hunt”.
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