Four of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his conversations with President Trump have reportedly been found to contain classified information. At his last testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he claimed he regarded those memos as personal. Turns out…maybe not. FBI policy dictates that any documents from his tenure with the FBI are property of the US Government.
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
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Is a notepad “reckless handling?”
Four of the seven Comey memos given to the Senate Intelligence Committee were said to have contained classified information. Giving another to his friend, who did not have a security clearance, may have been yet another “reckless” handling of classified material, if it had any classified information in it. Comey claimed to have turned that particular memo over to Robert Mueller, the Special Prosecutor.
According to The Hill,
More than half of the memos former FBI chief James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.
This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton for in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.
Comey testified last month he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a Columbia University lawyer friend. He asked that lawyer to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director.
But they weren’t actually “personal documents.” When the Senate Intelligence Committee reviewed the seven memos of his 9 conversations with Trump, the memos were deemed to be government documents. And Comey knew, or should have known, from the beginning that they would be deemed government documents and could not be viewed as “personal.”
The FBI employment agreement – form FD-291 – states in part:
- 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. I understand that by being granted access to such information, I am accepting a position of special trust and am obligated to protect such information from unauthorized disclosure.
- 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. I will surrender upon demand by the FBI, or upon my separation from the FBI, all materials containing FBI information in my possession.
Comey may not have had to sign that agreement, but it is the official policy of the Bureau. He assuredly knew the policy, being the Director.
Last year, he accused Hillary Clinton of being “reckless” in handling classified information, but said she had no “intent.” Smashing cell phones with a hammer, using a private server, all of those things speak to intent. Now we have a Trump-hating government official who deliberately leaked information that may have contained classified matter to the press through a friend from Columbia University.
The Hill’s article went on to say that now Congressional Investigators will have to find out:
- Where and how were the memos were created, such as whether they were written on an insecure computer or notepad.
- Where and how the memos were stored, such as inside his home, his briefcase or an insecure laptop.
- Were any memos shown to private individuals without a security clearance and did those memos contain any classified information
- When was it determined by the government that the memos contained classified information, before Comey took them and shared one or after.
They will have to determine whether the information contained in those memos was classified at the time he wrote them. They were in his possession when he left the Bureau, which in itself is a violation of FBI policy.
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