Fired FBI Director James Comey had it out for President Donald Trump from the day he took office in January 2017.
Comey has been under investigation for leaking classified information to the media about private conversations he had with Trump in the Oval Office.
The Department of Justice has concluded its investigation — and no charges will be brought against Comey.
The DOJ’s inspector general on Thursday published a damning report stating Comey broke bureau policy by leaking the classified memos.
“We conclude that Comey’s retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement,” reads DOJ watchdog head Michael Horowitz’s report.
The watchdog office said Comey broke FBI rules by giving the memos to his friend Daniel Richman in April 2018 with instructions to hand them over to The New York Times.
The report said Comey failed to notify the FBI after he was fired that he had retained some of the memos.
In this analysis section, we address whether Comey’s actions violated Department and FBI policies, or the terms of Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement. We determined that several of his actions did.
We conclude that the Memos were official FBI records, rather than Comey’s personal documents. Accordingly, after his removal as FBI Director, Comey violated applicable policies and his Employment Agreement by failing to either surrender his copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to the FBI or seek authorization to retain them; by releasing official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization; and by failing to immediately alert the FBI about his disclosures to his personal attorneys once he became aware in June 2017 that Memo 2 contained six words (four of which were names of foreign countries mentioned by the President) that the FBI had determined were classified at the “CONFIDENTIAL” level.
Horowitz also ripped Comey’s self-serving rationalization for keeping the memos in the first place:
Comey told the OIG that he considered Memos 2 through 7 to be his personal documents, rather than official FBI records. He said he viewed these Memos as “a personal aide-mémoire,” “like [his] diary” or “like [his] notes,” which contained his “recollection[s]” of his conversations with President Trump. Comey further stated that he kept Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 in a personal safe at home because he believed the documents were personal records rather than FBI records.
Comey’s characterization of the Memos as personal records finds no support in the law and is wholly incompatible with the plain language of the statutes, regulations, and policies defining Federal records, and the terms of Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement. By definition, Federal records include “all recorded information, regardless of form or characteristics, made or received by a Federal agency…in connection with the transaction of public business.”
80 This definition expressly covers any “act of creating and recording information by agency personnel in the course of their official duties, regardless of the method(s) or the medium involved.” 81 Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement likewise acknowledged that “[a]ll information acquired by [Comey] in connection with [his] official duties with the FBI…remain[s] the property of the United States of America.”
Horowitz also notes that several senior officials at the FBI slammed Comey for his abhorrent behavior and actions.
None of the members of Comey’s senior leadership team agreed with or defended Comey’s view that these Memos were personal in nature.
Instead, McCabe, Baker, Priestap, and Rybicki each told the OIG that they considered the Memos to be records of official FBI business between the President and the FBI Director.
McCabe described the Memos as a “record of [Comey’s] official engagement with the President”; Baker told the OIG that Comey’s Memos “were discussed in the office in connection with [Comey’s] official responsibilities”;
Priestap characterized the Memos as FBI work product “produced by the Director in his capacity as Director.”
Horowitz also accused Comey of having failed to set a proper example for everyone else at the FBI.