President Trump’s private attorney incorrectly described the timeline of reporting while criticizing former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony Thursday.
Speaking from prepared remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., attorney Marc Kasowitz noted that Comey testified that he had given a friend permission to reveal the contents of a memo about a meeting with President Trump.
“Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to [be] entirely retaliatory,” Kasowitz said at the National Press Club after the hearing.
However, this misstates the order of events. Here’s a quick review of the timeline:
On May 11, the New York Times reported that Trump and Comey had a private dinner in which Trump asked Comey for “loyalty.” The story made no mention of any contemporaneous memos.
On May 12, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations.”
Comey testified that he “woke up in the middle of the night” on Monday, May 15, after realizing that if there were tapes he should put the memo “into the public square” and asked his friend to share it.
On May 16, the New York Times reported that a memo from Comey discussed an apparent request from Trump to shut down the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
In a statement released on Friday, Kasowitz said his remarks were accurate and were referring to the Times’ story from May 11, not the one from May 16.
“Mr. Comey’s written statement, which he testified he prepared from his written memo, describes the details of the January dinner in virtually verbatim language as the New York Times May 11, 2017 story describing the same dinner. That story was the day before President Trump’s Tweet,” Kasowitz said.
The statement continued: “It is obvious that whomever was the source for the May 11, 2017 New York Times story got that information from the memos or from someone reading or who had read the memos. This makes clear, as our statement said, that Mr. Comey incorrectly testified that he never leaked the contents of the memo or details of the dinner before President Trump’s May 12, 2017 Tweet.”