Trump went into extraordinary detail on his pitch to put reporters in jail over leaks

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump
  • President Donald Trump said he believes reporters who write about leaks should spend “a couple days in jail.”
  • The remark was noted in newly released, partially redacted memos former FBI director James Comey wrote after his early interactions with Trump in 2017.
  • The memos were sent to Congress on Thursday, following a request from the Republican chairmen of several House committees.
  • The release comes the same week that Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” was released.

President Donald Trump has long been known to float the idea of putting news reporters in jail for writing stories that he finds unflattering, but he made that pitch in extraordinarily specific detail during a conversation with James Comey.

The former FBI director documented the interaction in several memos written in 2017. On Thursday night, 15 pages of partially redacted copies of Comey’s memos were leaked after the US Justice Department delivered them to Congress.

Trump had been bristling over troubling leaks surrounding his campaign, his presidential transition and, later, his administration – which often led to news articles that he found unflattering.

Comey noted in one memo a conversation he had with Trump about that issue, during which Trump talked about finding leakers:

“I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message,” Comey wrote, adding that Trump replied that it may involve putting reporters in jail, the memo reads.

“They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk,” Trump said according to Comey’s recollection.

Comey originally recorded the memos to preserve his memory of private interactions he had with Trump. Comey testified to Congress last year that he felt some of those conversations were inappropriate and could compromise his neutrality as then-director of the FBI.

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