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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2018, file photo, former FBI Director James Comey speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill Washington. The Justice Department’s inspector general says former FBI Director James Comey violated FBI policies in his handling of memos documenting private conversations with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director James Comey violated FBI policies in his handling of memos documenting private conversations with President Donald Trump, the Justice Department's inspector general said Thursday.

The watchdog office said Comey broke bureau rules by giving one memo containing unclassified information to a friend with instructions to share the contents with a reporter. Comey also failed to return his memos to the FBI after he was dismissed in May 2017, retaining copies of some of them in a safe at home, and shared them with his personal lawyers, the report said.

"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 report said.

The report is the second in as many years to criticize Comey's actions as FBI director, following a separate inspector general rebuke for decisions made during the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. It is one of multiple inspector general investigations undertaken in the last three years into the decisions and actions of Comey and other senior FBI leaders.

Trump, who has long regarded Comey as one of his principal antagonists in a law enforcement community he sees as biased against him, cheered the conclusions on Twitter. He wrote: "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!"

The White House in a separate statement called Comey a "proven liar and leaker."

But the report denied Trump and his supporters, who have repeatedly accused Comey of leaking classified information, total vindication. It found that none of the information shared by him or his attorneys with anyone in the media was classified, and the Justice Department has declined to prosecute Comey.

Comey seized on that point in defending himself on Twitter, saying, "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."

He also added: "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."

At issue in the report are seven memos Comey wrote between January 2017 and April 2017 about conversations with Trump that he found unnerving or unusual.

These include a Trump Tower briefing at which Comey advised the president-elect that there was salacious and unverified information about his ties to Moscow circulating in Washington; a dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for loyalty and an Oval Office meeting weeks later at which Comey says the president asked him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

One week after he was fired, Comey provided a copy of the memo about Flynn to Dan Richman, his personal lawyer and a close friend, and instructed him to share the contents with a specific reporter from The New York Times.

Comey has said he wanted to make details of that conversation public to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to lead the FBI's investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel one day after the story broke.

The inspector general's office found Comey's rationale lacking.

"In a country built on the rule of law, it is of utmost importance that all FBI employees adhere to Department and FBI policies, particularly when confronted by what appear to be extraordinary circumstances or compelling personal convictions. 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," the report says.

"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," it adds.

Comey said he considered his memos to be personal rather than government documents, and it never would've occurred to him to give them back to the FBI after he was fired. The inspector general's office disagreed, citing policy that FBI employees must give up all documents with FBI information once they leave the bureau.

FBI agents retrieved four of Comey's memos from his house weeks after he was fired.

The office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz also is investigating the FBI's Russia investigation and expected to wrap up soon.

Last year, the watchdog office concluded that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had misrepresented under oath his involvement in a news media disclosure, and referred him for possible prosecution. That matter remains open with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington.

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Archived Comments

  • ParkHillBilly
    August 29, 2019 at 12:35 p.m.

    Yes, Comey is a bad guy but tRump is The Chosen One .

  • Skeptic1
    August 29, 2019 at 12:51 p.m.

    If this guy is not prosecuted we can never trust again that the FBI won't become a political weapon at the hands of another Obama. This arrogant narcissist, along with Hillary, needs to be a guest in a federal prison as an example to others regardless of what party is in control.

  • dbjcon
    August 29, 2019 at 1:04 p.m.

    LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!

  • RP57
    August 29, 2019 at 1:11 p.m.

    But...but...Russia!

  • Goad
    August 29, 2019 at 2:18 p.m.

    None of the deep state will be prosecuted. They will wait out Trump. Elect someone who has been in DC for 20 to 40 years & resume business as usual. Swamp to deep to be drained. Especially when you keep appointing swampers to do the draining. All swampers are getting rich & want give that up for anyone.

  • LRCrookAtty
    August 29, 2019 at 2:18 p.m.

    It just amazes me that we needed a full on investigation to prove what we all knew in 2016. Now every investigation he was involved in (3-on Hillary) comes under question.

  • Packman
    August 29, 2019 at 2:25 p.m.

    IG report only confirms Comey's a scumbag and deserved to be fired. Disappointing what he did didn't quite rise to the level to justify criminal charges.
    .
    And for the umpteenth time, President Trump is vindicated for his actions. The only question that remains is how long will it be before Comey is hired by CNN?

  • RBear
    August 29, 2019 at 2:26 p.m.

    No violation of law, so no prosecution. Now, let's watch skeptic's head spin three times.

  • 3WorldState1
    August 29, 2019 at 2:32 p.m.

    Ha. We all knew he didn’t break any laws except the brainwashed whose been told that nonstop.
    Meanwhile this paper mentions nothing about Gen Mattis ripping Trump, his admin and his policies. That is a huge story. Not a peep here. This paper is a joke. Like the Trumpy conspiracy weirdos posting here.
    Deep state...blah blah blah. Y’all people need to get a life and come back to the real world. This country still needs you. But if your a worthless conspiracy wacko - what good are you? Your just dead weight and giving are country and state a bad name.
    And if Trump doesn’t go to jail. Then I don’t know how anyone can anymore. If I get in trouble with the police I’m just going to lie and claim I did nothing that the President didn’t do. Easy peasy.

  • itryed
    August 29, 2019 at 2:38 p.m.

    No doubt he is an idiot and we can blame him for this Orange Mound of Pus being in office

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