Inspector General’s Comey Report Shows Misconduct
Inspector General’s Comey Report Shows Misconduct
The Office Inspector General’s (OIG) report on the conduct of former FBI Director James Comey in regard to the release of several memos he wrote after his conversations with President Donald Trump did not contain any damning information that should result in Comey’s arrest or prosecution. But the report did not clear the former director of wrongdoing either.
Unlike Comey himself and President Trump, whose hot takes on the results of the investigation differ wildly, I refuse to play politics with the OIG findings. I am going to write down my impressions based on the report itself, rather than media takes on it. Trump claimed on Twitter that never has anyone in the history of our nation been so thoroughly disgraced and excoriated.
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
This is a stupid hyperbole, considering we have people like Bill Clinton, who was guilty of perjury (not impeached for receiving a hummer in the White House, like leftists claim), Anthony Weiner, who went to prison for being a repulsive sexual predator, and numerous other politicians who were exposed as guilty of everything from fraud to accepting bribes to being involved in the Watergate affair.
Meanwhile, Comey is playing victim, claiming that the world owes him an apology.
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
The OIG referred the matter to the Justice Department after completing its investigation, and the Department declined to prosecute Comey. However, the OIG did find – in no uncertain terms – that Comey violated Department and FBI policies pertaining to the retention, handling, and dissemination of FBI records and information, as well as his FBI employment agreement. Although these are not “crimes” in the traditional sense of the word, they are wrongdoings, and someone as highly placed as the Director of the FBI should know better than to do what Comey did.
What did he do?
Well, part of it was his retention of information that as an original classification authority (OCA) he should have known better than to retain – especially in an unclassified environment when he had a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) in his house where he could have stored classified information. Also, as an OCA, and someone who had been a member of the federal government for decades and FBI Director for nearly four years, he should have known to properly classify his memos and to store them in a proper way.
The OIG report also reveals Comey to be a liar. Comey claims to have been “‘a maniac…about hacking of [his] personal devices’ and that he is ‘obsessive’ about deleting files from his personal accounts. He told us that he ‘never keep[s] any emails, personal emails’ and tries ‘to maintain almost a maniacal hygiene about records.'” And yet, when asked why he did not classify the memos he knew contained sensitive information, nor kept them in his SCIF, he claimed he did not consider these memos as belonging to the government, or did he “think about it” at the time. (p.21)
Further, Comey claimed that it was just too hot and sweaty for him to use the SCIF, which to me is a load of garbage. Computer systems require a cooler temperature, and I cannot imagine that the sensitive systems he had in his SCIF would have operated properly in a sauna-type environment. But yet, prima donna thought it was too taxing for him to use the secure facility installed in his own home using taxpayer dollars.
The FBI had outfitted Comey’s home with a SCIF, which is an access-controlled facility used for review of information derived from intelligences sources or methods referred to as Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). Comey’s home SCIF contained Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret/SCI enclaves, with a secure printer and a safe, in what Comey described as a “very, very small” windowless closet in his basement, where he said it “was always about 110 degrees.” Comey said that when he was working at home on unclassified material, for example a speech, he would draft it on his personal laptop, then forward the draft to his FBI account, instead of working in the SCIF (which he described as a “sweat box”).
In addition, I’m seeing some contradiction in the way Comey described his memoranda to the OIG, showing him to be at the very least inconsistent, and at worst a lying jerk.
Comey told the OIG that he considered the memos to be personal documents, rather than FBI official records of the FBI. But then, Comey says he considered Memo 3 “to be a classified memo,” and therefore never took it home, choosing instead to keep it in his desk at FBI Headquarters, since his office was an open-storage SCIF. (p.28) There is no such thing as a personal document that is classified. If Memo 3 was, in fact, a classified document, it belonged to the United States government, not to Comey personally, and since he was the OCA for that particular document, there is no way he would not have known this.
As described above, with the exception of Memo 1 and Memo 5 (which Comey sent as emails), after drafting the Memos, Comey printed and delivered an “original” of each Memo to Rybicki to keep at the FBI. Comey told the OIG he considered Memos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to be personal documents, rather than official records of the FBI. However, because Comey considered Memo 3 “to be a classified memo,” Comey said he never took a copy of Memo 3 home. Comey said he kept his copy of Memo 3 in his desk at FBI Headquarters because he knew he did not have a legal way of maintaining and preserving classified information in his personal safe at home, and he said he was trying “to be very careful about [his] obligation to safeguard classified information.”
It certainly doesn’t sound like Comey was super careful about safeguarding classified information, despite his claims that he was so meticulous about ensuring classified information was protected. He kept the memos in his house in a safe he admitted that his wife “in theory” could have accessed (p.22), and he sent his lawyers information that while not classified at the time (even though, he knew enough to at least redact some of the classified lines within the memos, but failed to portion mark and classify the overall memorandum, as was part of his job), was later deemed to be classified at the very least on the CONFIDENTIAL level, with some portions determined to have been SECRET after the fact.
I ask this again: shouldn’t the Director of FBI, who was also an OCA, have known what should and should not be classified and certainly that anything that contained classified information should be marked as such?
I didn’t accept Hillary Clinton’s claims that she just didn’t know that (C) on her documents meant the information was portion marked CONFIDENTIAL and therefore thought it was perfectly OK to send it over unclassified systems, and I won’t accept Comey’s similar claims either. As Secretary of State and as FBI Director both Comey and Clinton should and did know better.
And it is clear and obvious from Comey’s testimony to Congress and his conversations with the OIG staff that he considered at least some of the information classified, including revelations about what countries the President considers more important than others in private conversations. (p. 44) Would it not be reasonable to expect a man who was a Justice Department attorney, FBI Director, and an OCA to know to a) classify his documents accurately and b) not keep classified documents in an unclassified environment?
And although he did not reveal the classified portions of his memos to the media, he did send several memos that were later deemed as containing classified information to his attorneys, having first redacted one of the memos.
Comey is either supremely arrogant or monumentally stupid. I leave it up to you people to decide which one.
Ultimately, it seems Comey revealed classified information he should have known as an OCA was not to be revealed to uncleared individuals to his lawyers. And I am not the only one who believes he should have known better. The OIG report cites Comey’s closest advisors as having used the words “surprised,” “ stunned,” “ shocked,” and “disappointment” to describe their reactions to learning what Comey had done, (p.61) which tells me that others also thought Comey ought to have known better.
Ultimately the OIG found that Comey’s memos were official FBI records. The OIG concluded that Comey violated applicable policies after his removal as FBI Director, as well as the terms and conditions of his employment. The OIG concluded that Comey released official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization and failed to immediately alert the FBI about his disclosures to his personal attorneys once he became aware in June 2017 that one of his memos “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.” And the OIG concluded that “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.”
In other words, Comey – as a former US Attorney and FBI Director – should have been clear on the regulations he was briefed on and had signed. And the OIG report plainly calls him out on his lies, as well as his failure to properly portion mark and classify the memo that he himself understood contained classified information. (p.53)
Comey’s own statements and actions demonstrate the inherently governmental nature of the Memos. Comey wrote in Memo 2 that he was “attempt[ing] to recount in some detail only those parts [of the January 27, 2017 dinner conversation] that related in some way to [his] work.” Comey told the OIG that at the time he wrote Memo 3 he knew it contained classified information and therefore never took a copy Memo 3 home. As Comey well knew, classified information is never considered personal property; rather, it is the property of the U.S. government.
No, it wasn’t an Oval Office hummer, nor was it a federal indictment on corruption charges a la Bob Menendez. But it was arrogant failure, and one for which no one in this country owes him an apology in any way.