"That's not up to me decide", Sanders said.

The White House says is not advising its Justice Department to investigate the matter, even though Sanders's public remarks could pressure Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions'Game of Thrones' polling company takes on White House shakeups Declare a true state of emergency House panel strikes deal on surveillance reforms MORE to do so. "What I've said and what I'm talking about are facts. The DOJ is not commenting, but I would put to you, would the president encourage the DOJ to prosecute Comey?".

"I think that it has been shown in the days that followed that the president was right in firing Director Comey since the director's firing, we've learned new information that only provided further justification for that firing, including giving false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists", Sanders said at the time. Critics have contended that the President may have been trying to interfere with Comey's criminal investigation into potential Russian Federation collusion with the Trump campaign, something the White House has furiously denied.

"We would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going".

Sanders was asked again if the actions of Comey were illegal. Comey admitted under oath to releasing the contents of some memos to a friend, but said he made sure to write those memos in a way that they would not be marked as classified.

Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee had sought to meet with the FBI's chief of staff, James Rybicki, and the executive assistant director of its national security branch, Carl Ghattas, as part of their review into the dismissal of then-FBI Director James Comey earlier this year. Comey has said he did nothing wrong by sharing the information. "He claims they were private property but they clearly followed the protocol of an official Federal Bureau of Investigation document", Sanders said. "The White House uses "leaking of information" as a throw-away line but it has a legal definition and Jim Comey did not violate the law based upon telling others what the president said to him".

The question of whether Comey broke the law is much less clear than Sanders made it seem, said Jeffrey Cramer, a former assistant USA attorney for the Northern District of IL and a managing director at Berkeley Research Group. I think the president's been very clear about his position on that front.

The July 27 refusal letter from the department, which CNN was first to report on, cites the department's "long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters".