Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for FBI records about former Director James Comey’s book, which he signed to write in August 2017 and is set for publication in April 2018 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice, (No. 1:18-cv-00220)). The suit also seeks records of communications between Comey and the FBI prior to and regarding Comey’s controversial June 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Judicial Watch filed suit on January 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Justice Department failed to respond to an August 14, 2017 FOIA request for:
- All records of communications between the FBI and Comey prior to and regarding Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 8, 2017.
- All records of communications between the FBI and Comey relating to an upcoming book to be authored by Comey and published.
- All records, including but not limited to forms completed by Comey, relating to the requirement for prepublication review by the FBI of any book to be authored by Comey with the intent to be published or otherwise publicly available.
Comey reportedly received an advance in excess of $2 million for his book, Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, reportedly set for publication on April 17th. Former FBI agents and officials intending to write books concerning their tenure are customarily required to submit the entire transcript for pre-publication review.
A month after President Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, the former FBI director provided highly controversial testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the circumstances that led to his dismissal, the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server. During that testimony, Comey admitted he leaked information about his conversations with President Donald Trump in order to get a special prosecutor appointed. In November, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department for its records about Comey’s testimony (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-02316)).
“Mr. Comey seems to have protected status for any misconduct and we want to know if he had a special deal for his book from his friends in the FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Deep State is in cover-up mode. The FBI, DOJ, and the Special Counsel are stonewalling our requests for Comey documents.”
Judicial Watch has several other lawsuits pending for Comey-related records:
- Two lawsuits (here and here) seek specifically the “Comey memos” ((Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 1:17-cv-01189)) and (Daily Caller News Foundation v. U.S. Department Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01830));
- One lawsuit seeks metadata of the “Comey memos” and related records-management information ((Judicial Watch, Inc., v. U.S. Department of Justice(No. 17-cv-01520));
- One lawsuit seeks non-disclosure agreements pertaining to the handling, storage, protection, dissemination, and/or return of classified information signed by Comey ((Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01624)).
On January 11, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ordered the FBI to turn over the “Comey memos” for in camera review by the court. In doing so, the court rejected arguments by the Sessions Justice Department to dismiss the lawsuits seeking the Comey information.
On February 2, Boasberg ruled that the “Comey memos” would not be made public. Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation are appealing the ruling.