President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey has been fully vindicated following a damning report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz condemning Comey's conduct for undermining the reputation and integrity of the FBI and its impartiality in conducting investigations.
Horowitz found that Comey had violated Department and FBI Policies pertaining to the retention, handling, and dissemination of FBI records and Information - including
- Failing to return 4 memos kept at his home detailing Comey's conversations with Trump - after Trump removed Comey as FBI Director
- Improperly Disclosing FBI Documents and Information
- Failing to Immediately alert the FBI to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information
This was not Comey's first infraction – as Horowitz pointed out:
We have previously faultedComey for acting unilaterally and inconsistent with Department policy. Comey's unauthorized disclosure of sensitive law enforcement information about the Flynn investigation merits similar criticism. 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. 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.
Horowitz spared Comey no sympathy for the damage Comey's media leaks had done to the FBI's reputation and integrity:
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.
The Senate and House should censure Comey's gross dereliction of duty in unequivocal terms.
Comey owes an unreserved apology to all 35000 FBI employees for his flawed and failed leadership.
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