Comey’s Tarnished Image – IG REPORT

  • “The lion’s share of the Inspector General’s investigation deals with lying to the FISA court in order to gain a wiretap warrant to spy on a former associate of President Donald Trump, Carter Page…James Comey is one of the individuals who signed off on a FISA warrant and concealing evidence and deceiving the judges. That’s — according to my count — six different potential felonies.” — Gregg Jarrett

Here is Comey’s Tweets HOTAIR focuses on:

And here is HOTAIR’S EXCELLENT response:

Ahem. The report does say that Comey didn’t leak his memos directly to the media. However, Horowitz describes how Comey used a cutout to achieve the same thing, a point which Comey had already admitted in public testimony:

At the time, the OIG also was aware of Comey’s June 8, 2017 congressional testimony that he had authorized a friend (who was also one of his personal attorneys) to provide the contents of Memo 4 — which did not contain any classified information — to a reporter for The New York Times. The focus of the OIG’s investigation was to determine whether Comey violated Department or FBI policies, or the terms of his FBI Employment Agreement, in his handling of the Memos during and after his tenure as FBI Director. The OIG’s investigation included review of the Memos as well as numerous additional documents, emails, and news articles; and forensic analysis of certain computer systems. As part of this investigation, the OIG also interviewed 17 witnesses, including former Director Comey and Daniel Richman, the individual who, at Comey’s request, shared the contents of one of the Memos with a reporter for The New York Times.

Emphasis mine. This can literally be found on Page 1 of the report. Comey is parsing out his vindication on the thin edge that the memo he directed Richman to leak to the Times didn’t have classified material in it, but as Horowitz points out, Memo 4 was designated “For Official Use Only.” This is what Comey’s claiming as vindication:

Comey instructed Richman to share the contents of Memo 4, but not the Memo itself, with a specific reporter for The New York Times. Comey did not seek FBI authorization before providing the contents of Memo 4, through Richman, to a reporter. As noted above, the FBI later marked Memo 4 “For Official Use Only” and determined that it did not contain classified information. We found no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the Memos to members of the media.

Why did Comey direct Richman to leak Memo 4? Politics:

Comey sends a digital photograph of Memo 4 (describing the meeting in which Comey wrote that President Trump made the statement about “letting Flynn go”) to Richman via text message from Comey’s personal phone. Comey asks Richman to share the contents, but not the Memo itself, with a specific reporter for The New York Times. Comey’s stated purpose is to cause the appointment of a Special Counsel to ensure that any tape recordings that may exist of his conversations with President Trump are not destroyed. Richman conveys the substance of Memo 4 to the reporter.

Horowitz makes specific mention of Comey, Richman, and Memo 4 in his conclusion. It’s clear that Horowitz doesn’t see the lack of classification as any sort of vindication for Comey:

However, after his removal as FBI Director two months later, Comey provided a copy of Memo 4, which Comey had kept without authorization, to Richman with instructions to share the contents with a reporter for The New York Times. Memo 4 included information that was related to both the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Flynn and, by Comey’s own account, information that he believed and alleged constituted evidence of an attempt to obstruct the ongoing Flynn investigation; later that same day, The New York Times published an article about Memo 4 entitled, “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation.”

The responsibility to protect sensitive law enforcement information falls in large part to the employees of the FBI who have access to it through their daily duties. On occasion, some of these employees may disagree with decisions by prosecutors, judges, or higher ranking FBI and Department officials about the actions to take or not take in criminal and counterintelligence matters. They may even, in some situations, distrust the legitimacy of those supervisory, prosecutorial, or judicial decisions. But even when these employees believe that their most strongly-held personal convictions might be served by an unauthorized disclosure, the FBI depends on them not to disclose sensitive information.

Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility. 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 non-public information.

You’d better believe an apology is owed, but it’s not owed to Comey. It’s owed from Comey. Clearly, we will wait a very long time to hear it.

Update: Maybe Comey should check in with his town hall partners at CNN before demanding apologies. They read the report and don’t seem to think it’s very vindicate-y:

LEGAL INSURRECTION chimes in with similar warnings by Horowitz to Comey:

The IG found “no evidence” that Comey or his lawyers provided the media with classified information.

However, the IG “concluded that Comey’s retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.”

[….]

Horowitz wrote (emphasis mine):

The responsibility to protect sensitive law enforcement information falls in large part to the employees of the FBI who have access to it through their daily duties.On occasion, some of these employees may disagree with decisions by prosecutors, judges, or higher ranking FBI and Department officials about the actions to take or not take in criminal and counterintelligence matters. They may even, in some situations, distrust the legitimacy of those supervisory, prosecutorial, or judicial decisions. But even when these employees believe that their most strongly-held personal convictions might be served by an unauthorized disclosure, the FBI depends on them not to disclose sensitive information.

Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility. 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 non-public information. Comey said he was compelled to take these actions “if I love this country…and I love the Department of Justice, and I love the FBI.” However, were current or former FBI employees to follow the former Director’s example and disclose sensitive information in service of their own strongly held personal convictions, the FBI would be unable to dispatch its law enforcement duties properly, as Comey himself noted in his March 20, 2017 congressional testimony. Comey expressed a similar concern to President Trump, according to Memo 4, in discussing leaks of FBI information, telling Trump that the FBI’s ability to conduct its work is compromised “if people run around telling the press what we do.” This is no doubt part of the reason why Comey’s closest advisors used the words “surprised,” “stunned,” “shocked,” and “disappointment” to describe their reactions to learning what Comey had done.

Horowitz stressed that FBI employees must “adhere to Department and FBI policies,” especially when they come across “extraordinary circumstances or compelling personal convictions.”

The IG criticized Comey for not using the “several other lawful options available to him to advocate for the appointment of a Special Counsel.” He told the IG office that a Special Counsel “was his goal in making the disclosure.”

Horowitz reminded Comey:

What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome……

FOX NEWS lists some of the “infractions specifically:

  • “Comey did not seek authorization from the FBI before providing Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to his attorneys.” (page 2)
  • “Comey did not seek FBI authorization before providing the contents of Memo 4, through Richman, to a reporter.” (page 2)
  • “As described in this report, we conclude that Comey’s retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.” (page 3)
  • “Comey told the OIG that he did not notify anyone at the FBI that he was going to share these Memos with anyone, and did not seek authorization from the FBI prior to emailing these four Memos to Fitzgerald.” (page 38)
  • “Accordingly, Comey stated that he did not notify anyone at the FBI that he was going to share the contents of the Memo 4 with Richman or the media, and that he did not seek authorization from FBI to provide Memo 4 to Richman.” (page 40)
  • “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.” (page 52)
  • “Despite knowledge that Memo 3 contained classified information, Comey did not appropriately mark Memo 3 with classification banners, portion markings, or a classification authority block. By failing to do so, Comey violated Executive Order 13526 and Intelligence Community, Department, and FBI policies governing marking of classified information.” (page 53)
  • “Comey’s actions with respect to the Memos violated Department and FBI policies concerning the retention, handling, and dissemination of FBI records and information, and violated the requirements of Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement.” (page 54)
  • “Comey violated Department and FBI policies, and the terms of his FBI Employment Agreement, by retaining copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 after he was removed as Director, regardless of each Memo’s classification level.” (page 55)
  • “As a departing FBI employee, Comey was required to relinquish any official documents in his possession and to seek specific authorization from the FBI in order to personally retain any FBI documents. Comey failed to comply with these requirements.” (page 55)
  • “As the FBI Director and Head of a Department Component, Comey was required to apply for and obtain authorization from the Assistant Attorney General for Administration to retain any FBI records after his removal. Comey violated these Department and FBI policies by failing to surrender his copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 upon being removed as FBI Director and by failing to seek authorization to retain them.” (page 55)
  • “Comey violated FBI policies and the requirements of his FBI Employment Agreement when he sent a copy of Memo 4 to Richman with instructions to provide the contents to a reporter, and when he transmitted copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and a redacted version of 7 to his three attorneys.” (page 56)
  • “Comey violated FBI policy and the requirements of his FBI Employment Agreement when he chose this path.” (page 56)
  • “Comey was not authorized to disclose the statements he attributed to President Trump in Memo 4, which Comey viewed as evidence of an alleged attempt to obstruct the Flynn investigation and which were relevant to the ongoing Flynn investigation.” (page 56)
  • “Rather than continuing to safeguard such evidence, Comey unilaterally and without authorization disclosed it to all.” (page 56)
  • “However, Comey’s own, personal conception of what was necessary was not an appropriate basis for ignoring the policies and agreements governing the use of FBI records, especially given the other lawful and appropriate actions he could have taken to achieve his desired end.” (page 57)
  • “The unauthorized disclosure of this information—information that Comey knew only by virtue of his position as FBI Director—violated the terms of his FBI Employment Agreement and the FBI’s Prepublication Review Policy.” (page 57)
  • “However, Comey was not authorized to provide these Memos to his attorneys without prior approval from or coordination with the FBI.” (page 58)
  • “By providing Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to his attorneys without seeking FBI approval, Comey took for himself the ‘carte blanche authority’ expressly denied by the courts, in clear violation of the FBI’s Prepublication Review Policy and the requirements of Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement. As a result, Comey not only disclosed sensitive law enforcement information to his personal counsel but also a small amount of information contained in Memo 2 that the FBI subsequently determined was classified at the ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ level.” (page 58)
  • “Once he knew that the FBI had classified portions of Memo 2, Comey failed to immediately notify the FBI that he had previously given Memo 2 to his attorneys.” (page 59)
  • “The FBI’s Safeguarding Classified National Security Information Policy Guide clearly states that ‘[a]ny person who has knowledge that classified information has been or may have been lost, compromised, or disclosed to an unauthorized person must immediately report the circumstances to his or her security office.’ Comey violated this requirement by failing to immediately inform the FBI that he provided Memo 2 to his attorneys.” (page 59)
  •  “By not immediately reporting that he had provided Memo 2 to his attorneys when Comey first learned that the FBI had designated a small portion of Memo 2 as classified at the ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ level, Comey violated FBI policy.” (page 59)
  •  “However, after his removal as FBI Director two months later, Comey provided a copy of Memo 4, which Comey had kept without authorization, to Richman with instructions to share the contents with a reporter for The New York Times.” (page 60)
  •  “But even when these employees believe that their most strongly-held personal convictions might be served by an unauthorized disclosure, the FBI depends on them not to disclose sensitive information. Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility.” (page 60)
  •  “We have previously faulted Comey for acting unilaterally and inconsistent with Department policy. Comey’s unauthorized disclosure of sensitive law enforcement information about the Flynn investigation merits similar criticism.” (page 61)
  •  “Comey had several other lawful options available to him to advocate for the appointment of a Special Counsel, which he told us was his goal in making the disclosure. What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.” (page 61)

Here is my RPT Page’s Facebook post with the above info:

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