Disgraced former FBI Director James Comey used a private email account hundreds of times to conduct government business — “and at least seven of those messages were deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that they declined to release them,” the New York Post reports.
Like Hillary Clinton, whom Comey decided had broken no laws when she used her own homegrown server and email to send and receive classified information, Comey said he used the Gmail account only for “incidental” purposes.
But the Justice Department said that Comey and his chief of staff “discussed government business on about 1,200 pages of messages, 156 of which were obtained by The Post.”
The Cause of Action Institute, a conservative watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit for Comey’s Gmail correspondence involving his work for the bureau. The Justice Department responded that there were an eye-popping 1,200 pages of messages for Comey and his chief of staff that met the criteria.
Justice released 156 of them but refused to hand over seven emails because they would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.” And another 363 pages of emails were withheld because they discussed privileged agency communications or out of personal privacy concerns.
Cause of Action’s CEO slammed the former top G-man for minimizing the work he did using his private account. “Using private email to conduct official government business endangers transparency and accountability, and that is why we sued the Department of Justice,” said John Vecchione.
“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 email, Comey recognized the irony of the FBI investigating Clinton for questionable email practices while he used his own private account to do the same thing.
Two days after complaining that his “mobile is not sending emails,” Comey asked an aide that the testimony he was to deliver to the Senate be sent on his private account — calling it an “embarrassing” situation.
“He [aide] will need to send to personal email I suppose,” Comey wrote. “Embarrassing for us.”
Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government, a nonpartisan coalition that advocates for government transparency, said Comey’s practice of using personal email while investigating Clinton reeks of a double standard.
“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,” Rosenberg said.
In October, a government watchdog group released more than 1,600 documents showing classified information being transmitted through the secret — and unsecured — account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
Clinton set up her own private email server in her New York home, which she used throughout her time at the State Department. She often asked Abedin to forward her email that was classified, which the aide did.
Judicial Watch reports that “the documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over.”
Also in October, the State Department received another 2,800 Clinton emails found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Abedin.
The FBI turned over the documents after Judicial Watch sued the State Department for failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.
“This is a disturbing development,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release Tuesday, which is pushing for the public release of the emails. “Our experience with Abedin’s emails suggest these Weiner laptop documents will include classified and other sensitive materials.”