James Comey's release of memos to the New York Times was handled in a methodical way so he could avoid legal issues, lawyers told the Hill.
Comey, the former FBI director, during his testimony Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee said he orchestrated the disclosure of damaging details about his conversations with President Donald Trump in order to get his side out quickly.
"As a private citizen I thought it important to share that, I wanted to get it out," Comey said.
"It's clear that Comey understood the legal principles [protecting disclosures]," Stephen Kohn, a lawyer who specializes in whistleblower cases, told The Hill.
But, he said, "Trump's lawyer was also smart because he’s filing these complaints in places that don’t mean anything. It's public relations."
Trump's attorney Marc Kasowitz said Comey made "unauthorized disclosures" of privileged communications and said he would leave it to the "appropriate authorities" to determine whether Comey should be investigated.
But whistleblowers said Comey waited to release the memos until after Trump tweeted that Comey better hope there are no tapes of their disputed conversations about the Russia investigation threats.
"Even in the context of lawyer-client privilege, if a client attacks the lawyer publicly, the lawyer can self-defend," Kohn said. "So even assuming [executive privilege] was there, Comey had the right to self defense."
As long as the memos were not classified, which Trump claims they weren't, his "actions appear to be entirely lawful,” Brad Moss, a lawyer who specializes in litigation on matters relating to national security, federal employment and security clearance law, told The Hill.
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