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Personal Impressions: After two brief meetings and very little time spent with Donald Trump, Comey describes Trump as “fundamentally dishonest”. How could Comey know Trump was dishonest? How is it possible for a FBI Director to be so lacking in objectivity?
Several contradictions exist in Comey’s recollections. Places where he has “vivid recollections” and others where he is not sure, purposely evades, or does things for convenience. How was it possible a team from the FBI came to his home to remove all FBI material on May 11th, and the team missed the personal safe containing FOUR of the memos?
The thing I find so disturbing is the private dinner of January 27th. Trump asked Comey to open an investigation to prove the Dossier was not true. Trump said and Comey acknowledge, Trump (himself) was not under investigation, and Trump wanted an investigation to clear the air. Here’s where it gets weird….. Comey told Trump an investigation would be bad…….. because if he was asked, Comey would have to confess the President was under investigation (which Comey knew the President was already under investigation but the President did not know he was under investigation) and that would look bad, or be misconstrued……. by whom? The press? That makes no sense, because the FBI is not supposed to comment about ongoing investigations.
Comey throwing shade on the idea of Trump asking for a full blown investigation, January 27, 2017, was a key moment. Trump wanted to know where the heck the Dossier came from and wanted his admin cleared of any offenses. Trump also wanted to know how the Flynn phone call was leaked……. a serious offense…….. and something Comey completely ignored.
The final thing which bugs me, personally, is the cheerleader atmosphere at the FBI. The all get together and had a meeting about how to tell Trump about the Moscow Ritz Carlton allegations…….. and immediately after Comey finished the meeting, he got into the car and was handed a classified laptop……… so he could write………. and tell the other cheerleaders back at the office.
I lied, one more thing which bugs me. Big T will probably jump all over me for this but, the FBI Director works for the President and if the FBI screws up, the President has to answer. What is with all the “He can’t talk to me” and “I don’t ever want him to call me again”, and “It’s inappropriate for us to be in a room together.” WTF? The FBI is part of the Executive Branch. If I were President, I would want to know what the FBI was doing. This whole notion of “separation” is absurd. Separate and unaccountable is how Branch Davidians/Ruby Ridge/Fast and Furious/Muh Russia happened.
No, I would want the FBI Director in my Oval Office once a week, “How many arrests did you make this week, Director Comey?” We can imagine if the Trump Admin just passed landmark Prison Reform a President would want to know, “Hey, Director Comey, what are the recidivism rates on the people we just let out of jail?” Or, if the President’s Admin was hyper focused on sex trafficking, pedophiles, “Hey Jim, how is the investigation in Hollywood going?” Maybe even, “Um, Director Comey, since there are 3 MILLION people headed to Roswell on Sept 21 to storm Area 51, please tell me if there are really any aliens there…..” A president does not like surprises. Why can’t the President talk to the head of the FBI?????
Am I being unreasonable?
Let’s begin the real hard look at the OIG Report with what Comey did wrong.
Beginning on Page 55: Emphasis is mine.
1. Comey Failed to Return Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 after Being Removed as FBI Director 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. 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
A Department employee who wants to retain Department records or information after their employment ends must make a written request, receive approval from the appropriate official, and execute a nondisclosure agreement.89 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. 90Page 55
2. Comey Improperly Disclosed FBI Documents and Information 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. We discuss these violations below.Page 56
a. Comey’s Improper Disclosure of Memo 4’s Contents, through Richman, to a Reporter Comey told the OIG that he made the decision to provide the contents of Memo 4, through Richman, to The New York Times so that the President’s request of Comey to “let Flynn go” would be in “the public square.” At the time, as Comey knew from his work as FBI Director, the FBI had an ongoing investigation of Flynn that included examining Flynn’s contacts with the Russian Ambassador.(91)
Comey said he believed disclosing the President’s statement would “change the game” by creating “extraordinary pressure on the leadership of the Department of Justice, which [Comey did] not trust,” to appoint a Special Counsel, who would preserve any potential tapes of his conversations with the President. Comey said his view at the time was that “if the world knew there might be tapes of Donald Trump asking me to drop an investigation, there would be tremendous pressure for [the Deputy Attorney General] to hand it to an independent prosecutor.” Comey also said he believed that this was something he was “uniquely situated to do” as a private citizen, but that he chose to do this through an intermediary because he did not want to respond to questions from reporters.
Comey violated FBI policy and the requirements of his FBI Employment Agreement when he chose this path.Page 56
Comey was apparently terrified about Trump’s May 12, 2017 tweet about the possibility of “tapes” existing of their conversations. Several times Comey eludes to the fact that he immediately began to write his memos because he felt Trump would lie about what was said in their conversations. (Oh, the irony)
(Comey) He said he viewed the issue as one of “incredible importance to the Nation, as a whole” and told us he felt that taking action was “something I [had] to do if I love this country…and I love the Department of Justice, and I love the FBI.” 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. (93)
Members of Comey’s senior leadership team used the adjectives “surprised,” “stunned,” “shocked,” and “disappointment” to describe their reactions to learning that Comey acted on his own to provide the contents of Memo 4, through Richman, to a reporter. 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.94Page 57
Comey’s Improper Disclosure of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to His Attorneys Comey told the OIG that he shared copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 with his attorneys to obtain legal representation in connection with his removal as FBI Director and any post-removal legal issues that might arise. However, Comey was not authorized to provide these Memos to his attorneys without prior approval from or coordination with the FBI.
As courts have made clear, a federal employee seeking legal advice does not have “carte blanche authority to disclose any and all confidential government information to the employee’s attorney.”
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.Page 58
Comey Failed to Immediately Alert the FBI to the Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information
The FBI did not learn that Comey had shared any of the Memos with anyone outside the FBI until Comey’s June 8, 2017 congressional testimony. ……. Comey did not mention that he provided Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to each of his three attorneys.
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
As Comey himself explained in his March 20, 2017 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, he was unable to provide details about the nature or scope of the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election because…
(From Comey’s testimony)”the FBI is very careful in how we handle information about our cases and about the people we are investigating…. Our ability to share details with the Congress and the American people is limited when those investigations are still open, which I hope makes sense. We need to protect people’s privacy…. We just cannot do our work well or fairly if we start talking about it while we’re doing it. “
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.”Page 60
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.Page 60