Comey
© AP/Carolyn Kaster
James Comey
Former FBI Director James Comey appears to be the subject of another leak investigation.

Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are investigating a years-old leak to the media about a dubious Russian intelligence document that factored into how Comey handled the FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.

Two reports in the spring of 2017, one from the New York Times and the Washington Post, are under scrutiny by law enforcement officials. Prosecutors are looking into Daniel Richman, Comey's friend and adviser, who leaked the FBI chief's notes about his private conversations with President Trump in 2017 after Comey was fired.

The document, obtained by hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials and provided to the FBI, included what appeared to be an email between Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was the Democratic National Committee chairwoman at the time, and Leonard Benardo, an official with George Soros's Open Society Foundations, in which the former suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch would ensure Clinton would not be prosecuted for her use of a private email server to conduct government business.

Comey, concerned that Russia could leak the document if Lynch played a leading role in deciding whether to charge Clinton, held a news conference in July 2016 and stated the FBI recommended charges not be pressed against Clinton.

Both Wasserman Schultz and Benardo have denied being in contact, raising the prospect that the document was fake.

In his memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, Comey said "unverified" information discovered by the U.S. government in 2016 from a classified source "would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubt on the attorney general's independence in connection with the Clinton investigation."

Also weighing on his mind when holding the press conference, according to Comey, was how Lynch asked him to call the investigation a "matter" and the controversial June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton.

In an April 2018 statement responding to Comey's book, Lynch denied ever coordinating with Democrats on a message for the emails investigation and, in a not-too-subtle jab at Comey, said she "followed the Department's long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the fact of an ongoing investigation."

Comey stirred controversy again when he announced to Congress the FBI was reopening the Clinton emails investigation less than two weeks before the 2016 election. He again closed the investigation, citing no changes in the FBI's view on the matter, a couple days before the Nov. 8 election, but Clinton and her allies have long blamed the optics of what Comey did for contributing to her loss to candidate Trump.

In a report released last fall, Comey was harshly criticized by the Justice Department inspector general for violating FBI policy for his efforts to disclose notes memorializing his conversations with Trump without authorization in the hopes of sparking a special counsel investigation. He was criminally referred to the Justice Department for his conduct, but the agency declined to prosecute.

The new investigation into the leak of classified information began in recent months, but it is not clear whether prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury or how many witnesses have been interviewed.

Lawyers for Comey and Richman declined to comment. The U.S. attorney's office in Washington and the Justice Department did not immediately return the Washington Examiner's request for comment.