In testimony last month before Senate Intelligence Committee members, Comey admitted leaking unauthorized information to the media on privileged communications with Trump.
He used Columbia Law Professor Daniel Richman to deliver it to the NYT. His purpose was to force an appointment of a special counsel, he said.
At the time, Law Professor Jonathan Turley called his action “problematic,” flying in the face of Trump urging him to crack down on leakers while still FBI director.
All agency personnel sign a statement, stating “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.”
Agency personnel “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 written authorization by the FBI.”
According to officials familiar with the material Comey released, it was government property. More than half of the documents contained classified information.
Comey flagrantly broke his own agency rules. It routinely restricts internally generated material relating to investigations as “FBI information.”
Its rules cover “documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated.”
In Senate testimony, Comey lied, claiming nothing he released was classified or privileged information.
Agency documents are only for internal use. None of its personnel may release it publicly, including when they return to private life, unless given agency authorization.
Comey claiming he was legally and ethically justified in leaking information to the media was willful deception – compounded by using a law professor as his transmittal agent.
At the time, Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz said the following:
“(I)t is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”
“Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President.”
“Although Mr. Comey testified that he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from those memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory.”
“We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated.”
Comey’s actions were improper, unethical, and arguably illegal, notably for lying to Congress. It’s for the Justice Department to decide if he warrants prosecution.