The New York Post obtained 156 of 1,200 pages of messages in which former FBI director Comey and his chief of staff James Rybicki discussed government business.
The problem is Comey used his private Gmail account hundreds of times to conduct government business.
At least seven of those messages were deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that they declined to release them.
Spanning from 2013 to 2017, the highly redacted messages were obtained by the New York Post after a conservative watchdog, Cause of Action Institute, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking James Comey’s work-related emails from his private gmail account.
According to the Post, the emails show that Comey used his personal Gmail account throughout the Clinton email investigation.
“Using private email to conduct official government business endangers transparency and accountability, and that is why we sued the Department of Justice,” Cause of Action Institute’s CEO John Vecchione said.
He continued, “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.”
The email messages contained information about changes to James Comey’s security detail and concerns about a mass shooting at a Chicago school in 2016.
Highlights from former FBI director James Comey’s Messages:
October 7, 2015: Comey complains that his “mobile is not sending emails” and asks an aide that documents be sent to his private account. Comey said the request was “embarrassing for us,” seemingly to acknowledge the hypocrisy behind his use of a private email account while the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton for the same practice.
“He [aide] will need to send to personal email I suppose,” Comey wrote. “Embarrassing for us.”
September 30, 2015: Comey emailed Rybicki an article about Russian hackers trying to gain access to Hillary Clinton’s email server. He wrote, “Need to be sure our colleagues across the street don’t think I actually said most of the stuff they attribute to me.”
July 25, 2016: Comey apparently emailed Rybicki a link to a Lawfare article questioned what the US government knew about Russia and the DNC hack, writing “I suspect there will be more of these kinds of stories.”
Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government, a nonpartisan coalition that advocates for government transparency, said James Comey’s use of a personal email while investigating Hillary 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.
The inspector general at Justice slammed James Comey for using his personal Gmail account for FBI business, saying it was “inconsistent” with government policy.
But Comey claimed his private email use was just “incidental” and only used for word processing a “public speech or public email.” He said he wasn’t sending “anything remotely classified” on Gmail and that his use was “a totally different thing” from Clinton’s.
“He can’t have it both ways,” Rosenberg said.
“Either he used his personal email for things that were public or would be in the public domain, or he used it to discuss internal policies, investigations, etc. that might or might not be appropriately withheld under FOIA.”
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