James Comey has been under more than his fair share of scrutiny lately, but now a new angle seems to be emerging. The Washington Times reported on Friday that former Justice Department lawyer Ty Clevenger has raised questions in New York over whether Comey’s decision to leak potentially classified memos to the press through a friend of his might constitute grounds for disbarment. And the original complaint is tied to accusations being made by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
Former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to leak memos of his interactions with President Trump could come back to haunt him in a challenge to his New York bar membership.
Ty Clevenger, a lawyer who filed a grievance against Mr. Comey, said in a letter Friday to the New York lawyers’ disciplinary committee that if the fired director ended up leaking classified information it should bolster the case against him.
Earlier this week Sen. Charles E. Grassley revealed that Mr. Comey appears to have authored seven memos about his interactions with Mr. Trump. The government has deemed four of those seven memos to have classified information. Mr. Comey also leaked at least four memos to a law professor friend.
It’s easy to see how this could be viewed as retribution by people with an ax to grind against Comey and his defenders will no doubt make that claim. But at the same time, the wording of the complaint could have merit. Grassley has concluded that at least one of the leaked memos must have had classified information in it. Assuming that’s true, it could amount to a willful breach of client confidentiality (?) or, “illegal conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.” The second sounds more likely than the first, given I’m not entirely sure who would be defined as a “client” in this case. Trump? But the second aspect would speak more to any attorney’s fitness as an officer of the court.
Perhaps there’s a vindictive element to this, but it still wouldn’t be the first time that high profile individuals have faced the disbarment process. Remember that Bill Clinton was disbarred and banned from practicing before the Supreme Court in 2001. His wife wasn’t actually disbarred, but a judge in Maryland did order a case to be opened investigating her license to practice last year. Of course, Nixon and Spiro Agnew were both disbarred for that matter.
In reality, this is likely pretty far down the list of things Comey has to be concerned about these days. If he’s engaging in any private practice work it must be difficult to keep up with his clients’ needs what with all the other, er… interesting meetings he has scheduled in Washington. But enough of that. Before we close out this story, let’s take a brief trip back to October of last year when Comey was invited to speak at Harvard. Let’s just say it didn’t go well.
Ouch. But you have to admit, “Comey you’re not our homey” has a certain poetic appeal to it.