(Adds detail from report)
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey despite an internal investigation that found he improperly leaked information to the news media, the department's Office of Inspector General said on Thursday.
The inspector general's office, which serves as the agency's internal watchdog, said Comey shared a handwritten memo with a friend who described it to the New York Times, in an effort by Comey to pressure the Justice Department to launch an independent investigation into his conversations with President Trump.
The memo described a private conversation in which Trump allegedly asked Comey to drop the FBI's investigation into his then-national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials.
Comey decided to share the contents of the memo after Trump fired him in May 2017.
The Inspector General's report said that while that memo did not contain classified material, Comey set a dangerous example when he shared sensitive information to create public pressure for official action.
"Were current or former FBI employees to follow the former Director's example and disclose sensitive information in service of their own strongly held personal convictions, the FBI would be unable to dispatch its law enforcement duties properly," the report said.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall)
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