Washington watchdog Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice for refusing to provide copies of non-disclosure agreements pertaining to fired FBI Director James Comey.
The federal department simply refused to respond to the Judicial Watch request.
The FBI allowed Comey to leave his position with copies of his notes of private conversations with President Trump, which he then turned over to a friend with instructions to publicize them in the media in an effort to provoke a special-counsel investigation.
Judicial Watch said Friday it filed the legal action “for all non-disclosure agreements pertaining to the handling, storage, protection, dissemination, and/or return of classified information that were signed by or on behalf of former FBI Director James Comey.”
The FBI had failed, the watchdog said, to respond to a June 13 FOIA request.
The new case was filed in federal court in Washington.
“How is it the FBI allowed Mr. Comey to walk out the door with sensitive documents about President Trump?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is remarkable that we have to sue the FBI in federal court to get these answers about this scandal.”
In June, as WND reported, Judicial Watch demanded the FBI reveal records Comey might have taken with him when he left office in addition to the notes about his meetings with President Trump.
Comey has testified to Congress that he took notes on a government computer of his meetings with Trump and later leaked them to the New York Times through a friend.
The reporting of the notes prompted an invitation for Comey to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding claims that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 election and tried to shut down investigations into the matter.
The revelation that Comey, who last year famously declined to refer Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information for prosecution, had been able to take government records with him as he left office raised questions for Judicial Watch.
The organization sent a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe warning that the agency has a responsibility under the Federal Records Act to retrieve all of the government documents Comey took with him.
The letter from Fitton noted Comey “confirmed that, while in office, he created various memoranda regarding his meetings with President Trump.”
“Mr. Comey also confirmed that, after his departure from the FBI, he provided at least some of these memoranda to a third party, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, for the purpose of leaking them to the press. Various media outlets now have reported that Professor Richman has provided these memoranda to the FBI. It is unclear whether he still retains copies of the memoranda.”
The letter argued that’s not the proper place for government records to end up.
“These memoranda were created by Mr. Comey while serving as FBI director, were written on his FBI laptop, and concerned official government business. As such, they indisputably are records subject to the Federal Records Act. 44 U.S.C. §§ 2101-18, 2901-09, 3101-07, and 3301-14,” Fitton wrote.
“The fact that Mr. Comey removed these memoranda from the FBI upon his departure, apparently for the purpose of subsequently leaking them to the press, confirms the FBI’s failure to retain and properly manage its records in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”
Fitton said even if Comey no longer has possession of the memos, as he now claims, some or all of them may still be in possession of a third party, such as Professor Richman, “and must be recovered.”
“Mr. Comey’s removal of these memoranda also suggests that other records may have been removed by Mr. Comey and may remain in his possession or in the possession of others. If so, these records must be recovered by the FBI as well,” Fitton said.
The lawsuit is just one of several Judicial Watch is taking to pursue details about what government documentation Comey was allowed to take with him when he left office.