National Security

Former FBI Director Comey’s Troubles Are Deepening

The Special Prosecutor that James Comey so desperately sought may now be looking into his own actions…

A couple of weeks ago we learned that former FBI Director Comey leaked the memos he had created regarding his private conversations with President Trump to a friend, and subsequently leaked them in order to get them into the hands of the press.  That revelation, admitted by Comey, sent shock waves through the FBI as well as many that understand how sensitive information is supposed to be handled.

If anyone should have known how to safeguard secret, classified, or otherwise sensitive information, it should have been Director Comey.  It is ironic that he is now accused of doing the exact type of thing he was investigating Hillary Clinton for in the handling of her emails.

In Comey’s testimony, he testified that he wrote the memos and considered them his private property.  He admitted to using a cutout to leak them to the press.  His intention, he said was to force the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the Trump administration and the possible connections to Russian collusion.  After almost a year of looking nothing has been found yet.

Now, the former Director may just find himself on the wrong end of the Special Prosecutor he wanted so badly to have appointed.  Comey opened the door to scrutiny when he testified under oath last month that he considered the memos he prepared to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a Columbia University lawyer friend.

During that testimony Senator Roy Blunt questioned Comey: “So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document.  You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted through a friend?”

“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the President.  As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.  I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership.  My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

There is a problem here.  Comey says “as a private citizen,” but he was the Director of the FBI, a government employee at the time.

According to report by The Hill, the problems escalated, when for the first time it was disclosed that the total number of memos linked to Comey’s nine conversations with Trump was not one but seven memos.  The memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, and the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents.  It is also reported that four, or more than half, of the seven memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the “secret” or “confidential” level.  This is according to officials directly familiar with the matter.

If true, Comey has violated the law as well as FBI policy.  That specific policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission and mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.

“Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign.

FBI policy further adds that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official wrote authorization by the FBI.”

It is hard to see how Comey can steer clear of this issue.  He has since turned over all the memos to Robert Mueller, the Special Prosecutor heading up the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  It is very possible Robert Mueller will now also be looking at his old friend James Comey as the target of his investigation.

Congressional investigators have already begun considering Comey’s creation, storage, and sharing of the memos.  It is clear he violated the FBI policy, but the new information that four of the seven memos included some classified information demands an inquiry into Comey’s handling or mishandling of the information he was charged to protect.

Remember all this started after President Trump fired Director Comey.  The revelations of Comey’s actions not only in this matter but is several others show a Director that thought he was above rules and regulations.  President Trump probably should have fired him much earlier.

So what is in the future for Mr. Comey?  If I were a betting man, I would say he is looking at several more rounds of testimony under oath. I would also suggest he acquire legal counsel quickly if he hasn’t already, he is going to need it.

Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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