Speed Reads

Denied

FBI says it won't release the Comey memos because of 'a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding'

The FBI has denied requests for the release of former FBI Director James Comey's memos recording his private conversations with President Trump. The FBI said it could not release the documents because they are part of a "pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding" and the memos' release could "reasonably interfere with enforcement proceedings," likely referring to the ongoing investigations into the Trump team's possible ties to Russian election interference.

Several news outlets, including CNN, BuzzFeed News, The Daily Beast, and The New York Times, filed lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the memos after Comey's testimony earlier this month before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey said he started taking notes after his first conversation with Trump because he was "honestly concerned" the president "might lie about the nature" of their talks.

Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told BuzzFeed News that he thinks the FBI's decision in this case is "exactly the sort of circumstance that this FOIA exemption was designed for. That is, to protect records that are at the center of an unfolding investigation where disclosure of the records could compromise leads or prejudice the investigation."

Aftergood added: "That also means, however, that once the investigation is concluded or the special counsel has moved on, the justification for withholding would evaporate and the memos should be released."