Thursday, August 29, 2019
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey violated FBI policies in his handling of memos documenting private conversations with President Donald Trump, the Justice Department's inspector general said today.
The watchdog office said Comey broke bureau rules by giving one memo containing unclassified information to a friend with instructions to share the contents with a reporter.
Comey also failed to return his memos to the FBI after he was dismissed in May 2017, retaining copies of some of them in a safe at home, and shared them with his personal lawyers, the report said.
"By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees – and the many thousands more former FBI employees – who similarly have access to or knowledge of nonpublic information," the report said.
The report is the second in as many years to criticize Comey's actions as FBI director after a separate inspector general rebuke for decisions made during the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. It is one of multiple inspector general investigations undertaken in the last three years into the decisions and actions of Comey and other senior FBI leaders.
Trump, who has long regarded Comey as one of his principal antagonists in a law enforcement community he sees as biased against him, cheered the conclusions on Twitter. He wrote: "Perhaps never in the history of our Country has someone been more thoroughly disgraced and excoriated than James Comey in the just released Inspector General's Report. He should be ashamed of himself!"
The White House in a separate statement called Comey a "proven liar and leaker."
But the report denied Trump and his supporters, who have repeatedly accused Comey of leaking classified information, total vindication. It found that none of the information shared by him or his attorneys with anyone in the media was classified, and the Justice Department has declined to prosecute Comey.
Comey seized on that point in defending himself on Twitter, saying, "I don't need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a 'sorry we lied about you' would be nice."
He also added: "And to all those who've spent two years talking about me 'going to jail' or being a 'liar and a leaker' – ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president."
At issue in the report are seven memos Comey wrote between January 2017 and April 2017 about conversations with Trump that he found unnerving or unusual.