During his Congressional testimony today, former FBI Director James Comey said that he instructed a friend to leak a memo to a reporter in order to prompt a special counsel appointment. This was a memo that alleged that Donald Trump had asked Comey in a meeting to let the Michael Flynn investigation go.
“…[I] asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey said on Capitol Hill today. ” I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought it might prompt the appointment of a special counsel, so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.”
When asked who this person is, James Comey simply said that he is a good friend from Columbia Law School. Comey did not name names, but he was referring to Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia Law School professor who is a longtime friend and confidant of Comey’s. Dan Richman has confirmed as much to The Washington Post.
So who is Daniel C. Richman, the Columbia Law School professor who leaked the Comey memo to a reporter? Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. He is a Former Federal Prosecutor Who Worked With Comey in New York
According to his biography on the Columbia Law School website, Dan Richman is a former federal prosecutor. He served as chief appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York from 1987 to 1992, according to the Federalist Society, also serving as a consultant to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury on federal criminal matters.
James Comey, too, worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, serving as the deputy chief of the criminal division there from 1987 to 1993. Comey later became the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The New York Times reported in 2009 that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York catapults so many people into important positions that it has in a sense become one of New York City’s most powerful clubs. Dan Richman was quoted in this article.
“Every single largescale investigation will mark the beginning of a meeting of the club,” Richman told The New York Times, referring to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.”
In 2004, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Dan Richman to the position of chairman of the Local Conditional Release Commission.
Richman has offered expert testimony in a variety of state and criminal investigations, and he testified before a Senate subcommittee on Miranda warnings, according to Columbia Law School.
2. He Teaches at Columbia Law School
Daniel C. Richman currently teaches at Columbia Law School. According to his biography on the Columbia Law School website, Richman teaches Criminal Adjudication, Evidence, Federal Criminal Law, and S. Sentencing. His areas of expertise are criminal procedure, adjudication, evidence, and federal criminal law.
According to The Federalist Society, Richman served as a law clerk for Judge Wilfred Feinberg and then Justice Thurgood Marshall in the 1980s. He then joined the Fordham University School of Law in 1992, moving to Columbia in 2002.
Professor Richman has written over 30 scholarly articles. In 2015, he received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching from Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger.
“Dan Richman is a worthy recipient of the Presidential Teaching Award,” Gillian Lester, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, said at the time, according to Columbia Law School. “He exudes enthusiasm and humor to engage students and motivate learning, and he prepares students to plan for their futures from the moment they walk through his classroom doors.”
According to a Columbia Law School article, Richman in his teachings “bridges the gap between theory and practice” by inviting “judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys into his Evidence, Sentencing, Criminal Adjudication, and Federal Criminal Law classes so students can hear directly from the people on the front lines of the justice system.”
Students at Columbia say that he is an effective mentor and confidante.
“I can’t count the number of people who have told me they rely on Professor Richman both inside and outside the classroom,” Elizabeth R. Cruikshank of the class of 2015 said. “And yet despite the sheer number of students who consult him and seek his help, none of those relationships ever feels routine or perfunctory.”
After James Comey mentioned during his Congressional testimony that he had a friend from Columbia leak materials to a reporter, so many people flooded the Columbia website that it temporarily crashed.
3. He is an Adviser to James Comey
Daniel Richman is a confidant and adviser to James Comey.
Richman’s biography at Columbia Law School says that he is “currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.” The New York Times refers to Richman as a “longtime confidant and friend of Mr. Comey’s.”
In 2013, James Comey became a Senior Research Scholar and Hertog Fellow on National Security Law at Columbia Law School, and according to The New York Times, it was Richman who wooed Comey to Columbia.
After Comey’s firing, Richman told The New York Times that if Comey wants a job at Columbia, he “would be welcomed back, and he knows it.”
The New York Times also reported that Richman has spoken with Comey “several times since he was fired.”
Richman has spoken about Comey in the media many times, and The New Yorker referred to him as a “close friend of Comey who has served as his unofficial media surrogate.”
4. He Defended James Comey’s Letter to Congress in October
In October 2016, James Comey sent a letter to Congress informing them of the existence of new emails potentially relevant to the Hillary Clinton investigation. This subsequently became a major story, and Hillary Clinton has since said she believes it was one of several factors that lead to Donald Trump’s victory.
Comey was criticized for sending the letter to Congress, but Daniel Richman defended Comey’s decision at the time.
“Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” Richman told The New York Times. “If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price.”
Richman told PBS that Comey sent this letter because he wanted to protect the credibility of the FBI.
“Here we had him having made statements about the completion of the investigation…all of a sudden he’s confronted with very little notice with a trove of emails that appear to be pertinent,” Richman said. “The next step is what to do, and I think what he figured he need to do immediately is get the information that he had these right out.”
Richman also said on Fox News that whatever Comey did would have had political ramifications.
“I don’t think he’s unaware of the fact that there’s an election gong on,” Richman said. “I don’t think he’s trying to influence the election, but either silence or speaking is going to implicate the election, and he’s aware of that and did what he felt he had to do.”
On the topic of this memo, Richman urged the media not to read too much into what Comey said.
“The fact that some new emails have been uncovered, which the bureau has not – at least according to reporting – looked it means that there are some new emails to look at. Nothing more,” Richman told CNN. “I mean, I keep reading this swirl of claims about what might be in them and what might not. The director didn’t know when he made the statement…to jump to conclusions that these say anything different from what’s already been seen seems kind of strange.”
Richman later told The Huffington Post that he thinks the media covered the Comey memo “really poorly.”
“It would be really nice if members of the media and members of the public realized that there’s a real possibility that there will be duplicates,” Richman said. “Since they haven’t been checked, the bureau can’t say, but we can guess from the outside.”
5. He Previously Said That Trump Fired Comey Because Comey Wouldn’t Pledge His Loyalty
Dan Richman had previously told the media after Comey was fired that Donald Trump fired “somebody unwilling to pledge absolute loyalty to him,” according to ABC News. About a month later, Comey would reveal that Trump did indeed tell him that he expects his loyalty.
Richman also said when Comey was fired that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote the letter recommending Comey’s firing, was being taken advantage of by the Trump administration.
“Rod Rosenstein is a useful patsy,” Richman told Politico. “If you have principles and you think you’re being used, you resign.”
Dan Richman has said that James Comey has always tried to be apolitical and fair to both sides.
“Jim sees his role as apolitical and independent,” Richman told The New York Times. “The F.B.I. director, even as he reports to the attorney general, often has to stand apart from his boss.”
Richman told The New York Times in that same interview that Comey was “navigating waters in which every move has political consequences” and that with Comey, there is “a consistent pattern of someone trying to act with independence and integrity, but within established channels.”
In an interview on Fox News back in November, Richman said that any FBI director must do what’s right regardless of politics and that this is why they have 10 year terms.
“It’s a 10 year term for a reason,” Richman said. “Part of what we want in an FBI director is come what may…to put your head down and make nonpartisan decisions, even as you recognize that people can spin them one way or the other. That’s what he did and I think he’s right.”
Richman told NBC News of Comey, “I don’t think he takes glee in being contrary for its own sake,” but adding that Comey “recognizes that you can never make everybody happy.”
And Richman also told Politico last year that Comey’s goals do not always align with the goals of the current administration.
“There are administration agendas, and appropriately so, that [Comey] doesn’t always adhere to,” Richman said. “And he takes his criticisms for that and, very quietly—and sometimes loudly—he takes his congratulations for that…This is somebody who grew up in a variety of administrations, and was able to, I think, do a remarkable job of…always trying to do the right thing. Hewing to that as your only goal is a really good start. Even if you don’t have divine wisdom to know what the right thing is, at least trying to get there is the beginning of a very promising relationship with power.”