Former FBI Director James Comey speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill Washington. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute Comey over his handling of memos he wrote documenting personal interactions with President Donald Trump. File photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.

Washington - The US Justice Department on Thursday released a highly critical report of former FBI director James Comey's releasing of memos detailing his conversations with US President Donald Trump.

Comey's firing by Trump and the memos - which said Trump demanded loyalty from the then FBI director - were a central part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

Comey had provided a memo of a conversation he had with Trump to a confidant and told the friend to share it with the media in hopes that it would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

"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," the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General said in the report.

The report stated, however, that the Justice Department declined to prosecute Comey for releasing the memos.

Trump is likely to uses the findings to attack Comey, whom he has criticized for his early handling of the Russia investigation.

Comey was fired by Trump in May 2017 and released the memos shortly there after.

Comey defended himself in a series of tweets on Thursday, stating that the report concluded that he did not release any classified information, as his critics alleged.

He called on his critics to "ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president."

dpa