Kimberley Strassel: Inspector general takes apart Comey's excuses for his actions

Of all the tall tales James Comey has told, none compare to the line he fed President Trump at their infamous January 2017 dinner. As recounted in the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director’s memo about that evening, “I said I don’t do sneaky things, I don’t leak, I don’t do weasel moves.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general begs to differ. In a new report about Mr. Comey’s handling of those memos, Michael Horowitz demonstrates that Mr. Comey in 2017 was consistently leaky and sneaky. The report refutes any claim that the then-director was justified in taking these actions. He repeatedly, and knowingly, broke the rules.

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For more than two years, we’ve heard Mr. Comey’s characterization of his actions, popularized by an adoring media: He felt compelled to memorialize his private discussions with the president, to protect the FBI. He had no choice but to use an intermediary to leak memo contents, to save the nation by forcing the appointment of a special counsel. He was entitled to do so because the memos were his personal papers, and by that time he was a “private citizen.”

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The inspector general calmly and coolly dismantles these claims. There’s good reason to suspect Mr. Trump was the focus of the bureau’s counterintelligence probe from the start, since that is the only way to explain the FBI’s outrageous decision to hide the probe from the president. The inspector general reports that Mr. Comey’s first briefing of the president-elect, on Jan. 6, 2017, was partly done in the hope that “Trump might make statements about, or provide information of value to,” that probe. That may be the real reason everyone on the FBI leadership team agreed “ahead of time that Comey should memorialize” what happened.

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