Trump says Comey decision proves Barr is 'fair and reasonable'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE maintained Friday that the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 reasons why impeachment fatigue has already set in Day 2 impeachment ratings drop by more than 1 million from first day Chris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' MORE over his mishandling of official memos showed fairness on the part of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE.

“The fact that James Comey was not prosecuted for the absolutely horrible things he did just shows how fair and reasonable Attorney General Bill Barr is,” Trump tweeted.

“So many people and experts that I have watched and read would have taken an entirely different course. Comey got Lucky!”

Barr has been a popular target of ire among Democrats and other Trump critics over his handling of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE’s report earlier this year.

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The president touted Barr's decision not to prosecute Comey after suggesting in an earlier tweet Friday that the former FBI chief broke the law in the wake of a watchdog report.

Trump asserted that his and others' rights were “illegally stripped away” by Comey, whom he fired in 2017. The president called the former top cop a "dishonest fool."

“The disastrous IG Report on James Comey shows, in the strongest of terms, how unfairly I, and tens of millions of great people who support me, were treated,” Trump tweeted. “Our rights and liberties were illegally stripped away by this dishonest fool. We should be given our stolen time back?”

Comey was rebuked by the Justice Department's inspector general in a report released Thursday, with the government watchdog saying Comey violated FBI policies and his employment agreement by transmitting sensitive memos about his conversations with Trump in early 2017 to people outside the bureau. Despite the criticism against Comey's actions, the Justice Department declined to press charges against him.

Mark Zaid, who specializes in national security law, said in an interview with The Hill on Thursday that he was not surprised the Justice Department declined to prosecute Comey, describing his mistakes as relatively common within the government. Pursuing prosecution, he argued, would require the Justice Department to pursue many more cases like it. 

The report released by inspector general Michael Horowitz faulted Comey for giving one of the memos, which contained information on the ongoing Russia investigation, to a friend with instructions to give it to the press. It also criticized him for sharing four of the memos with his private attorneys, including one containing words later deemed classified. 

Trump and his conservative allies have eviscerated Comey after the report’s publication, claiming it gave weight to their long-held accusations that FBI officials who worked on the Russia investigation were biased against Trump.  

But the developments undercut Republican predictions that Comey would face charges for his actions. The report also did not say that Comey lied to investigators and said the inspector general found no evidence that Comey or his lawyers leaked classified information to the media — disproving other popular GOP talking points. The White House called Comey a “proven liar and leaker” in a statement Thursday. 

After Trump fired him in May 2017, Comey leaked the memo containing his account of Trump telling him to "let go" of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey has said that he did so to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference and ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign. His wish was realized in the appointment of Mueller as special counsel weeks later. Trump has disputed Comey’s account of their February 2017 discussion about Flynn.

Mueller investigated the conversation about Flynn and other episodes as possible obstruction of justice by the president; the special counsel ultimately decided not to draw a conclusion one way or another on whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

Comey has maintained that the memos he wrote were his personal recollections and not official documents. The inspector general disagreed with that in his lengthy report released Thursday, saying the memos were official property of the bureau and that Comey set a bad example for rank-and-file employees.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees—and the many thousands more former FBI employees—who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information,” the inspector general wrote.