Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for FBI prepublication review and other records about former Director James Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00894)).
Judicial Watch filed suit after the Justice Department failed produce any records in response to a March 16, 2018, FOIA request for:
All records of communications between the FBI and former FBI director James Comey relating to an upcoming book to be authored by Mr. Comey and published.
All records, including but not limited to forms completed by former FBI director James 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 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.
“James Comey illegally took and then leaked material from his FBI memos in order to get a Special Counsel appointed to target President Trump. And so now Judicial Watch is asking questions about whether James Comey is getting special treatment from the FBI to use these ill-gotten FBI documents in his book,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
This is the second Judicial Watch lawsuit on the Comey book deal. Shortly after Mr. Comey signed to write his book August 2017, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request seeking FBI documents related to the deal and coordination on his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In January 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department for failing to respond to these requests.
On April 15, 2018, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about his book, Comey admitted to leaking conversations with President Trump in order to get a special prosecutor appointed, saying, “Look, it’s true … I gave that unclassified memo to my (friend), who was also acting as my lawyer, but this wasn’t a lawyer task, and asked him to give it to a reporter.”
This echoes his 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.
Judicial Watch has several other lawsuits pending for Comey-related records:
- In June 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking the memorandum written by former Director James Comey memorializing his meeting and conversation with President Trump regarding the FBI’s investigation of potential Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01189)).
- In July 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking metadata of the “Comey memos” and related records-management information (Judicial Watch, Inc., v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 17-cv-01520));
- In August 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking 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)).
- In September 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation against the U.S. Department of Justice seeking memoranda allegedly written by former FBI Director James Comey regarding his discussions with President Donald Trump and Trump’s aides (Daily Caller News Foundation v. U.S. Department Justice (No. 1:17-cv-01830)).
- In January 2018, 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.
Judicial Watch’s case was consolidated in Cable News Network, Inc., v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (No. 1:17-cv-01167).