US DOJ Office of the Inspector General released its report of Investigation of former FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure of Sensitive Investigative Information and handling of certain memoranda about Comey’s conversations with the US President Donald Trump.
The report found that Comey violated his employment agreement and FBI policies. According to the DOJ and FBI policy, the employees “may not, without agency permission, remove records from the Department—either during or after employment.”
“Under Department policy, the only items that departing employees may remove without prior approval are personal information or documents that are unrelated to the Department and official business; copies of any unclassified information already officially in the public domain; and copies of the employee’s email contacts. A departing employee must make a written request, receive approval from the appropriate official, and execute a nondisclosure agreement before removing any records or information. Before authorizing any such request, the approving official must ensure that the requested documents do not contain any prohibited categories of information, such as classified information. According to Department policy, if the head of a Department Component—for example, the FBI Director—seeks to remove Department information, he must receive approval from the Assistant Attorney General for Administration.
The FBI policies are no different. When FBI employees separate from the FBI, they are required to “surrender all materials in their possession that contain FBI information.” Every employee signs an FBI Employment Agreement at the beginning of their employment acknowledging this requirement. According to one Section Chief of the FBI’s Records Management Division (RMD), this requirement covers “all [FBI] information,…whether it’s a record or not, created or gotten by access or acquired during the course of their employment…, [it] is property of the U.S. government….”
According to the report, Comey wrote seven memos and handled them as hi sawn diary. OIG stated that former FBI director’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.”
The report also states that after being fired Comey also violated policies and his employment agreement “by failing to either surrender his copies of Memos 2, 4, 6, and 7 to the FBI or seek authorization to retain them; by releasing official FBI information and records to third parties without authorization; and by failing to immediately alert the FBI about his disclosures to his personal attorneys once he became aware in June 2017 that Memo 2 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.”
OIG did not fail to mention that it was not the first time when Comey acted “inconsistently 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,” OIG said. “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.”
However, Comey will not be charged for violating the policies.
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website