- - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What gets James Comey in trouble is that he leaked official memos that were most probably classified. He should have turned them over to the FBI or somewhere else in the Justice Department and then simply kept his mouth shut. And if he didn’t trust anybody at the department, he should have sent the memos on to the congressional intelligence committees (and thereby been protected as a whistleblower).

Instead, he wrote the memos with the expressed intention of leaking them to The New York Times. That he did this reveals his political motives and agenda.

Specifically, if he truly believed what he said in his Senate testimony, he should have deposited the memos at the FBI. If he didn’t trust the attorney general or the deputy attorney general, then he should have given them to the Justice Department inspector general or the congressional intelligence committees. But he definitely should not have given them to a “cutout” confidant for passage to The New York Times for publication.

By leaking the memos, Mr. Comey’s strange behavior is consistent with his unilateral closing and reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation — and his penchant for cutting out the attorney general, the deputy attorney general and the rest of the Justice Department. By the way, it was this latter propensity — at least according to the Deputy deputy attorney general’s memo to the president — that got him fired in the first place.

Mr. Comey may have also stumbled over the technical requirements to get approval for the publication of his memos which, after all, was his expressed intent for writing them in the first place. The memos are, in Washington-speak, “memcons” of his official (and one-on-one) private conversations with the president.

The requirement for pre-publication review and approval is a lifetime obligation for all government employees and officials with high-security clearances. The requirement comes from the agreements we sign as a condition to have access to those types and kinds of information.

Next, and as an original “classification authority,” Mr. Comey also had the obligation to classify the memos — or at least have them reviewed for classification — in accordance with the specific criteria in Executive Order 12526.

What could possibly be his explanation, reason or motive for not classifying them? How about because his intention all along was to see them in The New York Times?

So, should the Justice Department’s inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility be looking into former FBI Director Comey’s conduct? For sure.

Finally, what could possibly have been Mr. Comey’s “real” motivations for doing what he did? Let me speculate:

• A $10 million book deal?

• A run for the Senate?

• A run for president?

• All of the above?

In the meantime, it was President Trump himself who most accurately described Jim Comey as a “showboater.” In fact, how could the president ever have trusted Mr. Comey? He clearly did not and could never trust Mr. Comey — and fired him because of it.

• Daniel Gallington served in senior positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Justice and as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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