Grassley: Comey’s Self-Serving Decisions Did Great Harm to FBI
Aug 29, 2019
DOJ IG: Comey mishandled classified information; improperly disclosed FBI material; violated DOJ & FBI policies; set dangerous example for employees
Butler County, Iowa – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today made the following comment on a Justice Department Inspector General (DOJ IG) report that condemned former FBI director James Comey’s mishandling of classified and sensitive FBI material in violation of DOJ and FBI policies as well as his employment agreement.
“Americans expect federal officials, particularly those at the highest level of law enforcement, to live by the same laws and regulations that they enforce. Today’s report marks the second time the Justice Department watchdog has criticized former Director Comey’s decisions while at the helm of the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency.
“Mishandling sensitive and classified information is no small matter. Comey himself called similar actions by Secretary Clinton ‘extremely careless.’ He did this for the stated purpose of sparking a special counsel investigation into the person who fired him. We all saw how that worked out. Self-serving abuses of power are no way to serve Americans. This behavior is especially unbecoming of public servants who cultivate an appearance of honesty, integrity and transparency, and it has done great harm to the FBI’s reputation,” Grassley said.
The report examined Comey’s decisions shortly after being removed as FBI director to leak to the press via a friend contents of a memo describing his conversations with President Trump. It also examined his decisions to keep at his home original copies of several memos, some of which contain classified information.
The DOJ IG’s stated purpose for the review was to determine whether Comey violated DOJ or FBI policies, or his employment agreement. It found that “Comey’s retention, handling and dissemination of certain memos violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.” The DOJ IG also concluded that “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.”
In 2018, the DOJ IG criticized several FBI leadership actions during the Clinton email server investigation, including Comey’s unilateral decision to publicly announce that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute Clinton’s mishandling of classified material. Specifically, the DOJ IG found that Comey “usurped the authority of the Attorney General” by recommending no prosecution. It also found that Comey was “insubordinate” when he concealed from DOJ officials his plan to hold a press conference closing the investigation, and that his criticism of uncharged conduct “was inconsistent with Department policy and violated long-standing Department practices and protocols.”