Mr. Smartypants may have outsmarted himself. James Comey has painted himself into a corner by indirectly leaking a memorandum to the New York Times (a person who read the memorandum shared excerpts from it to reporter Michael Schmitt) and may even have placed himself in legal jeopardy. Gregg Jarrett of Fox News, a former defense attorney, explains:
Under the law, Comey is required to immediately inform the Department of Justice of any attempt to obstruct justice by any person, even the President of the United States. Failure to do so would result in criminal charges against Comey. (18 USC 4 and 28 USC 1361) He would also, upon sufficient proof, lose his license to practice law.
So, if Comey believed Trump attempted to obstruct justice, did he comply with the law by reporting it to the DOJ? If not, it calls into question whether the events occurred as the Times reported it.
Obstruction requires what's called "specific intent" to interfere with a criminal case. If Comey concluded, however, that Trump's language was vague, ambiguous or elliptical, then he has no duty under the law to report it because it does not rise to the level of specific intent. Thus, no crime.
There is no evidence Comey ever alerted officials at the Justice Department, as he is duty-bound to do. Surely if he had, that incriminating information would have made its way to the public either by an indictment or, more likely, an investigation that could hardly be kept confidential in the intervening months.
Comey's memo is being treated as a "smoking gun" only because the media and Democrats, likely prompted by Comey himself, are now peddling it that way.
Comey will almost certainly be testifying before Congress in public. There will be ample time to subpoena his memo and question him on his professional obligations under the law to report anything that he interpreted as obstruction of justice. If he alleges criminality on the part of President Trump, he implicates himself. I detect no signs of self-sacrifice in this veteran political appointee.