By Brooke Singman, ,
Published June 18, 2017
Conservative watchdog Judicial Watch is calling on Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to recover and release federal records and memos it claims were “unlawfully” removed by former Director James Comey, threatening the FBI with a lawsuit should the bureau not comply.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, penned a letter to McCabe on June 14 warning of a potential violation of the Federal Records Act, which is the basis for the federal government’s policies regarding the “creating, maintaining, and disposing” of federal records.
“As you may be aware, the Federal Records Act imposes a direct responsibility on you to take steps to recover any records unlawfully removed from the FBI,” Fitton wrote in the letter, claiming Comey unlawfully removed memos that could contain contents regarding the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “Upon learning that records have been unlawfully removed from the FBI, you then are required to initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records.”
The FBI told Fox News that they have no comment on the letter from Fitton.
“We’re looking to get action on the records that Comey unlawfully took from the FBI, and we know initially there are memos, but depending on what the nature of the documents are, there could be liabilities for Mr. Comey,” Fitton told Fox News.
The "memos" in question were written by Comey himself, leaving unclear how the FBI or the courts would view them; Judicial Watch insists they are official records.
Earlier this month, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he gave one of his memos regarding a meeting with President Trump to a friend, Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman, who then leaked the contents of the memo to the New York Times.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of special counsel,” Comey said in his testimony.
Fitton said that the case of Comey removing documents from the FBI is “the Hillary Clinton email scandal all over again.”
But retired FBI special agent and former national FBI spokesman, John Iannarelli, told Fox News that he didn’t see “the case.”
“The things Comey allegedly took are not classified,” Iannarelli said. “The issue is not him taking documents, but the matter of how he released them—classified or not, there is a procedure in doing that which he did not follow.”
But Fitton insisted Comey’s memos and other related documents he may have were federal records which the Justice Department and FBI are “obligated” to get back.
“The former FBI director isn’t above the law and current leadership of the FBI should stop protecting him and take action,” he said.
The letter said that if McCabe and the FBI do not respond by June 26, Judicial Watch will file a lawsuit in federal district court “seeking that you be compelled to comply with the law.”