Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly conducted sensitive FBI business hundreds of times on his private email account.
The fired FBI chief had denied ever using his private Gmail to discuss classified business after a Justice Department inspector general’s report earlier this year, an irony Hillary Clinton was quick to mock. But according to documents obtained by a conservative watchdog group, government business was discussed by Comey and his chief of staff on about 1,200 pages of messages, The New York Post reported.
The newspaper obtained 156 of these documents which, according to the Post, did not include at least seven emails because they were deemed too sensitive and would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.”
The Justice Department responded to a Freedom of Information request by the Cause of Action Institute, indicating there were 1,200 pages of communication between Comey and his chief of staff that were related to FBI business. And though the 156 pages were released, another 363 pages were not released due to either being related to agency communications or because of concerns over personal privacy.
“Using private email to conduct official government business endangers transparency and accountability, and that is why we sued the Department of Justice,” John Vecchione, Cause of Action’s CEO, said. “We’re deeply concerned that the FBI withheld numerous emails citing FOIA’s law enforcement exemption. This runs counter to Comey’s statements that his use of email was incidental and never involved any sensitive matters.”
In one telling email dated Oct. 7, 2015, Comey noted the “embarrassing” situation he found himself in when he needed to use his private account to send FBI information. Testimony that he was to deliver to the Senate needed to be sent on Comey’s private Gmail account by an aide because, he noted, his “mobile is not sending emails.”
“He [aide] will need to send to personal email I suppose,” Comey wrote, noting the hypocrisy in light of the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails. “Embarrassing for us.”
“It’s just so transparently hypocritical to have one standard for a person you are investigating and an entirely different standard for yourself when you are the one who’s enforcing the law,” Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government, said.
The documents released by the Justice Department appear to contradict Comey’s assertions that he wasn’t sending “anything remotely classified” on Gmail. Clinton mocked the ironic breach of protocol in a tweet after the finding from the inspector general’s June report.
But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 14, 2018
According to the New York Post:
In the messages, Comey discusses speeches and public statements with his aides and other routine business. There are also emails about pressing concerns like a threat of a mass shooting at a Chicago school in May 2016, changes on his protective detail and helping two American teachers with their visa processes in December 2013.
The emails show that Comey used personal email throughout his investigation into Clinton and even talked about it.
Comey shared a Fox News article link about how Russian hackers tried to access Clinton’s email server in an email to James Rybicki, his chief of staff, on Sept. 30, 2015.
“Need to be sure our colleagues across the street don’t think I actually said most of the stuff they attribute to me,” he told Rybicki.
The documents obtained by the Post, many of which are heavily redacted, range from a time period of 2013 to 2017. Comey was fired by President Trump in May 2017.
More emails, reportedly focusing on a variety of issues including the Clinton email investigation, are expected to be released soon, the Post noted.