Politics Judge to review Comey memos before deciding whether to release to media outlets

05:50  12 january  2018
05:50  12 january  2018 Source:   CNN

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A federal judge Thursday said he would look at the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote about his interactions with President Donald Trump before deciding whether the Justice Department can withhold them from the public.

A federal judge Thursday said he would look at the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote about his interactions with President Donald Trump before deciding whether the Justice Department can withhold them from the public.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A federal judge Thursday said he would look at the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote about his interactions with President Donald Trump before deciding whether the Justice Department can withhold them from the public. It's a signal that the judge may be skeptical of Justice's argument that the Comey memos should stay confidential because their release could compromise the Russia probe.

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Thinking about the Comey Memos . James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, June 8, 2017. (There is some scholarly dispute about whether the media could be liable for receiving and publishing certain kinds of information, such as national-defense information.)

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Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said the government would need to give the memos to the court by January 18. They'll stay secret during that process and won't be seen by the other side in the case.

The court's order is a significant move forward in the Freedom of Information Act case filed by CNN, USA Today, The Daily Caller and two non-profit conservative advocacy groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch.

"It's rather heartening that Judge Boasberg has chosen to review the Comey memoranda himself, instead of just relying upon the descriptions in the agency affidavits. Given the significant public interest value inherent in these documents, the Government's arguments against disclosure of them at all should be addressed with utmost caution," said Bradley Moss, the attorney who represents USA Today in the case.

Judge rules to dismiss standoff case against rancher Cliven Bundy, 2 sons

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The lawyers suggested in their filing that an FBI employee could testify before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg about why Comey ’s memos are so sensitive. “Publicly explaining in any greater detail why the release of the Comey Memos would be detrimental to the pending investigation would itself

The Justice Department has argued the FBI shouldn't release the memos because they're part of a sensitive government investigation about the Trump campaign's possible coordination with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

Most Freedom of Information Act court cases don't reach a point where the government shows a judge the documents it's withholding, and instead get decided based on arguments and affidavits alone.

The Comey memos have received intense public interest since Comey discussed their existence during his Senate testimony last spring.

Trump fired Comey on May 9. Less than a month later, Comey revealed that he had written memos while still FBI director about meetings and conversations he had with Trump about the Russia investigation, which at that time the FBI led. Those conversations include a meeting where Trump asked other top advisers to leave the room before he asked Comey if he would "let this go," referring to an ongoing investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to Comey's testimony. (Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the course of that investigation.)

Another conversation described in the memos, Comey said, included a one-on-one dinner invitation with Trump in the Green Room at the White House.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has since taken over the FBI's investigation, and may be looking at whether Trump obstructed justice by putting pressure on Comey and by firing him.

Comey has said he turned over his copies of the memos to the special counsel.

Indictment in Las Vegas mass shooting possible, police say .
LAS VEGAS - Attorneys for the Las Vegas police said in district court Tuesday that there still could be criminal charges filed in relation to the mass shooting at a concert on the Las Vegas Strip that left 58 dead. The revelation came as Nick Crosby, a lawyer representing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, argued to keep search warrants, affidavits and findings sealed as "charges The revelation came as Nick Crosby, a lawyer representing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, argued to keep search warrants, affidavits and findings sealed as "charges were being investigated." Police have said Stephen Paddock was the lone gunman in the Oct. 1 massacre.

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