President Trump went off on former FBI Director James Comey saying he has been “disgraced and excoriated” after the Department of Justice inspector general concluded he violated bureau standards with his handling of memos of his talks with Trump.
”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,” Trump said in a posting on Twitter. “He should be ashamed of himself!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2019
The Inspector General’s report, which was released Thursday morning, details Comey’s handling of “sensitive information.” The investigation found “no evidence” that the former FBI director or his attorneys “released any of the classified information” to the press.
However, Inspector General Michael Horowitz did fault Comey for his behavior, saying that he “violated Department or FBI policy” through his “retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos.” Horowitz also criminally referred the former FBI director to the Justice Department for his behavior, but the agency opted not to prosecute.
The report concluded that 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.”
The watchdog passed its findings to the Justice Department without making a recommendation on whether Comey should be prosecuted, but Attorney General William Barr declined to bring charges against Comey.
Trump’s decision to fire Comey in May 2017 as the bureau investigated Russian interference in the presidential election triggered questions about whether the president was trying to obstruct justice. Comey has said he provided one of his memos to a friend with the hope of triggering the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling and any connection between Moscow’s effort and the Trump campaign.
Comey’s goal came to pass when weeks later the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel.
The White House doubled down on Trump’s criticism of Comey on Thursday, saying Comey’s actions triggered a “politically motivated, two-year witch hunt,” referring to Mueller’s investigation.
“The Inspector General’s report shows Comey violated the most basic obligations of confidentiality that he owed to the United States Government and to the American people, ‘in order to achieve a personally desired outcome,’” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, quoting from the inspector general report.
The memo detailed a conversation between Comey and Trump during which the former FBI director says the president asked him to let go of the investigation into Michael Flynn, his onetime national security adviser. It was reported on by The New York Times in May 2017, after Comey’s ouster.
Comey has argued that the memos were personal recollections and not official records, something the inspector general refuted in the newly released report.
Comey was unapologetic on Twitter, noting that the investigation found no evidence that he or his attorneys shared classified information with the news media and accusing his critics of “defaming” him.
“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,” Comey tweeted.
“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,” he wrote.
DOJ IG "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." 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.
— James Comey (@Comey) August 29, 2019
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.
— James Comey (@Comey) August 29, 2019
Despite the findings that Comey violated FBI rules, the Justice Department declined earlier in August to file any charges against the former FBI director. But the information laid out Thursday in the IG report gave Republicans ample ammunition to fire at Comey and his defenders.