The American authorities came upon concerning the memo, which was stated to precise confidence that the legal professional basic on the time, Loretta Lynch, wouldn’t let an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-public e mail server go too far. Mr. Comey was stated to fret that if Ms. Lynch made and introduced the choice to not cost Ms. Clinton, Russia would put out the memo to make it appear illegitimate, resulting in his unorthodox determination to announce that the F.B.I. was recommending towards expenses within the matter.
The Justice Department underneath then-President Donald Trump, who fired Mr. Comey and regarded him an enemy, searched for years to seek out proof enough to cost him with the crime of creating unauthorized disclosures of categorised info — a push that finally got here to focus on whether or not he had something to do with The Times’s studying concerning the existence of the doc Russian hackers had stolen.
The long-running leak investigation into Mr. Comey was seen within the Justice Department as some of the politicized and contentious, even by the requirements of a division that had been prevailed upon in a number of cases to make use of leak investigations and different insurance policies regarding guide publication to assault former officers who criticized Mr. Trump.
Throughout final 12 months, prosecutors talked about whether or not or to not shut the leak investigation into Mr. Comey, based on two individuals aware of the case, partly as a result of there appeared to be little proof to indicate that the previous F.B.I. director had shared categorised info with the press.
Last fall, division officers mentioned whether or not the investigation had run its course and prosecutors ought to draft a declination memo that may clarify why Mr. Comey wouldn’t be prosecuted, one of many individuals stated. But the F.B.I. and the profession prosecutors working on the case wished to maintain the investigation open, the individuals stated, and in January prosecutors obtained a particular court docket order to require Google to show over information on the reporters’ emails.
With Mr. Trump quickly to be out of workplace, the order was controversial amongst some within the division, based on two individuals with data of the case. It was seen as unusually aggressive for a case that may doubtless finish in no expenses. During the transition from the Trump to the Biden administration, at the least one official wrote in a memo that the case needs to be closed, based on an individual aware of the transition.
In the court docket filings in search of to compel Google to show over logs of who was speaking with the 4 reporters who wrote that story, the Justice Department persuaded the choose that the secrecy was justified as a result of, because the choose wrote on Jan. 5, “there’s purpose to imagine that notification of the existence of this order will severely jeopardize the continuing investigation, together with by giving targets a chance to destroy or tamper with proof.”