Examining the timeline shows that Comey was likely behind an earlier leak to the New York Times.
The current top post on r/The_Donald incriminates Comey for lying to congress about the motivation for his leaks. It alleges that Comey’s testimony that he was motivated to leak info to the NYT by the Trump “you better hope there are no tapes” tweet cannot be true, because the NYT began publishing articles based on Comey leaks before Trump even made the “tapes” tweet.
This is, however, not 100% certain because there are two NYT articles in question. Both seem like they were derived from Comey leaks, but we only know for certain that one was (the later one, published on May 16th after the Trump tweet), because Comey told us so today. However, a look at the timeline shows that it’s likely that Comey was also behind the prior leak, before the Trump tweet, and he therefore lied to congress about his motivation for leaking.
Here’s the timeline as it stands:
MAY 11 — NYT reports that two Comey “associates” leaked information about a one-on-one dinner between Trump and Comey in which Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty. The article makes no mention of a memo, but contains information about the private conversation so detailed that it would be weird if it weren’t derived from a memo written by Comey after the dinner. It makes little sense that “associates” of Comey would remember the verbiage of the conversation with such detail, and then independently leak that verbiage without any direction from Comey himself, particularly when Comey admitted that he was willing to make such leaks only a week later.
May 12 — Trump tweets that Comey had better hope there weren’t recordings of the dinner that would go against the quotes in the May 11 NYT article. That tweet makes a whole lot more sense now that Comey was leaking. Trump was saying to Comey: “I know you’re the leak, and I might have recordings of our actual conversation that will prove that you’re lying.”
Somewhere in between May 12-May 16 — Comey, according to Comey, wakes up in the middle of the night and feels the sudden need to leak a memo from February to the NYT.
May 16 — NYT prints another article alleging that Trump asked Comey to leave Flynn alone. The source of this article is specifically listed as a Comey memo recorded by Comey after an Oval Office meeting in February. The memo was not given to the NYT, but rather read to the NYT by a Comey “associate”(notice the use of the word “associate” again). We now know that Comey gave the memo to his associate with the specific instructions to leak it to the NYT.
The big question here is whether Comey also instructed his “associate(s)” to leak the information for the May 11 article. If he did, then he indeed lied to congress, as it would make no sense for him to be motivated by the Trump “tapes” tweet to begin the leaks, because indeed the Trump tweet would have occurred after the initial leak.
It seems very unlikely, given the pattern of events, that Comey was not the source of the leak for the May 11th article. The use of the word “associates” and the intimate detail recorded in the article make it seem like it was reported via the same exact pattern as the May 16th article — a memo read to the NYT via an associate of Comey’s, at the direction of Comey himself. It was even written by the same reporter.
Trump’s lawyer Mark Kasowitz seems to agree with this interpretation. In his statement today, he stated:
“Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears entirely retaliatory.”
I think if we can somehow answer the following question it will prove that Comey is lying:
Was the associate(s) who leaked the information for the May 11th article the same associate who leaked the information for the May 16th article?
If so, it would be virtually impossible for Comey not to have been behind both leaks. It would mean that an associate of Comey’s randomly decided to leak info to the NYT, and then a week later Comey decided to use that same individual to leak again at his behest. The level of coincidence there would be too staggering for reality.