Inspector General Michael Horowitz is preparing a “damning report”on former FBI director James Comey’s conduct and has referred him for possible prosecution under the classified information protection laws, the Hill’s John Solomon reported Wednesday night. Unfortunately, Solomon is reporting that Department of Justice prosecutors under Attorney General William Barr have decided not to prosecute Comey for the alleged infractions.
According to Solomon’s sources, the IG report will conclude that Comey “leaked classified information and showed a lack of candor,” but DOJ prosecutors declined to bring charges because they didn’t think they had enough evidence to prove that Comey intended to violate the law.
It won’t be lost on conservatives that “lack of evidence of intent” is the same rationale Comey used to let Hillary Clinton off the hook for violating the Espionage Act when she mishandled classified information on her home-brew email server while secretary of State.
The allegations in question concern a memo Comey leaked to a friend specifically to be published by the media with the intention that it would prompt the appointment of a special counsel. That memo allegedly contained information classified at the lowest level of “confidential” and the classification was made by the FBI after Comey had leaked the information, the sources said.
The DOJ did not want to “make its first case against the Russia investigators with such thin margins and look petty and vindictive,” a source told Solomon, explaining the DOJ’s rationale for declining to prosecute a technical violation.
Comey is not completely off the hook, however. He and others inside the Obama-era FBI and the DOJ still face legal jeopardy in other ongoing probes by the IG and Barr-appointed special prosecutor John Durham.
Those investigations are focused on the origins of the Russia investigation that included a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign at the end of the 2016 election, the source said.
“There are significant issues emerging with how the FISA was handled and other conduct in the investigation, and everyone involved remains under scrutiny,” a second source said.
According to former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, the Comey memos were under review by U.S. Attorney John Huber.
During an appearance on Fox News Monday, Whitaker let slip, “we still have Huber out there looking at some of these things regarding Comey’s memos and the like.”
The IG report on Comey’s handling of classified memos is expected to come out in the next few weeks, according to the Hill.
The memos, which mostly recount Comey’s interactions with Trump in the Russia case and include information about foreign leaders, were sensitive enough to require government officials to send a professional “scrub team” to a Comey lawyer’s office to ensure all classified information was deleted, sources previously told me.
In addition, the IG is likely to find that Comey engaged in a lack of candor when FBI agents came to retrieve the classified memos in his possession, failing to tell the interviewing agent that he had forwarded some of the sensitive memos by email, according to sources familiar with the probe.
Documents released Thursday by the FBI to the conservative group Judicial Watch support that conclusion, showing the FBI report on its meeting with Comey at his home to recover the memos made no mention that the ex-director had forwarded the memos on to others.
Comey’s interview with the FBI at his residence was scheduled in advance, “for the purpose of providing certain classified memoranda (memos) to Corney for review,” the FBI document released by Judicial Watch states.
As Comey was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee the next day, this would suggest that the purpose of the visit was to help the fired FBI director prepare for his appearance.
Moreover, by giving the FBI all the memos he had in his possession, Comey could tell the senators the next day that he no longer had any copies of his memos to give to Congress—which is precisely what he did.
Although the former director is expected to escape prosecution, the IG report is expected to damage Comey’s “carefully manicured image as a law-and-order FBI director,” Solomon notes.
But the IG report, at least, reaffirms what has become painfully clear to Americans the past two years: Comey entered the FBI chief’s job with a reputation for excellence but ran a bureau that suffered from ineptitude, political shenanigans, leaking and significant human failings, all of which sharply contrast with the morality lectures he’s become famous for frequently offering since he was fired.
Solomon told One America News that the IG report on Comey’s handling of classified memos will be “a stinging rebuke” of his conduct while serving as Obama’s FBI director.