- James Comey spoke at a Washington Post Live event Tuesday
- He said former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exhibited “appalling” judgment
- Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in July 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exhibited “appalling” judgment by having an affair and exchanging anti-Trump text messages while working on the Russia investigation.
Comey offered the assessment at a Washington Post Live event in which he was asked what he thought about the direction of an investigation being conducted by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The investigation led to the discovery that Strzok and Page exchanged politically biased text messages while they were working on both the Russia probe and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email investigation.
Strzok, who served as deputy chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in July 2017. Page, an FBI attorney, resigned from the bureau Friday, as The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported. (RELATED: Lisa Page Resigns From The FBI)
“Both terrible and great,” Comey said when asked to characterize the inspector general’s findings.
“Terrible in the sense that it’s incredibly painful to see people exhibiting appalling judgment,” he said, referring to Strzok and Page. “First of all, having an affair, using FBI devices to communicate, and in the course of communicating, bad-mouthing not just [President] Donald Trump but everybody, near as I can tell.”
“So that’s really bad,” he added.
The inspector general’s investigation was “great” because it showed that the Justice Department was dedicated to transparency, Comey said.
Comey also addressed a recent inspector general report about his former deputy, Andrew McCabe.
“The part about Andy McCabe has been painful because I like him very much,” said Comey.
The inspector general’s office released a report on April 13 alleging that McCabe displayed a “lack of candor” regarding his authorization of leaks to the media for an October 2016 story about the Clinton investigation. McCabe instructed Page, one of his counsellors, to speak to The Wall Street Journal for the story, which provided a positive spin for McCabe’s handling of Clinton-related matters.
McCabe falsely denied on four separate occasions that he authorized the leak, IG report claims. One of the denials was to Comey during a meeting in late-October 2016. McCabe also told the inspector general’s office and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility that he did not authorize the leak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe on March 16.
“It certainly looks from the IG report like he’s a good person, did something that was not only a mistake but was wrong,” Comey said of his former deputy.
Comey also speculated about what the IG will say about him when it issues its final report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
“I don’t know what the IG’s going to say about me. I’m confident they’ll say I’ve told the truth, but they may criticize me. OK … I encourage that investigation,” he said.
The IG is reportedly investigating Comey over his handling of memos that he wrote following his conversations with Trump in 2017.
Comey gave four of the memos — two of which contained classified information — to his friend, a law professor named Daniel Richman. Shortly after he was fired by Trump on May 9, 2017, Comey instructed Richman to provide details of one of the memos to The New York Times. He has testified that he did so in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to take over the Russia probe.
Comey insisted the IG will find he did not mishandle the memos.
“There’s no significant issue there of any kind,” he said Tuesday.
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