James Comey is a "leaker" -- but that doesn’t make him a criminal

“I think, on balance, this is one of these extraordinary circumstances where the issues are so important, that what Comey did and his acknowledgment that he did it is understandable and in his mind necessary, and he did something that I think is courageous,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel now in private practice at Arnold & Porter…

The maneuver was one of a veteran Washington power player — shielding Comey, at least temporarily, from any personal scrutiny about the information. Pollack said that, while not illegal, Comey’s action belied his public persona.

“I think Mr. Comey had publicly always presented himself as somebody who does things by the book, and I think it’s pretty hard to argue that leaking something to the New York Times through an intermediary so you don’t leave any fingerprints on it is what most people would consider by the book,” Pollack said.