Former FBI Director James Comey used his personal email account to discuss his agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized private email server.
Through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the Cause of Action Institute, a conservative watchdog group, obtained some of the emails Comey sent from a Gmail account and revealed them Friday evening.
In one email sent on Sept. 30 to James Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, the FBI director shared a Fox News article about how Russia-linked hackers tried to access Clinton’s email server.
“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.
In a separate email a week later, Comey was aware that the revelation of his use of a personal email account for government business would be “embarrassing.”
“Okay but [redacted] was going to email my written testimony to me. He will need to send to personal email I suppose. Embarrassing for us,” the email said. The recipient’s name is redacted, but Rybicki was carbon-copied.
As part of the Justice Department inspector general’s June report on the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, it was revealed that Comey had used a personal email account to conduct FBI business.
Even though he told the IG that he did not have any concerns that he conducted FBI business on his personal laptop or personal email because “it was incidental,” the Cause of Action Institute reported that some of the hundreds of pages of emails it sought were withheld.
Comey announced in July 2016 that his agency would not recommend criminal charges against anyone involved with Clinton’s private email network, even after finding that Clinton’s team was “extremely careless” in handling classified emails.
He announced the FBI was reopening its investigation into Clinton’s unauthorized email server less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election — in which Clinton was the Democratic nominee — and closed it again just days before it took place. This controversial move has prompted Clinton and her allies to blame Comey, in part, for contributing to her 2016 defeat.
Comey was fired by President Trump as FBI director in May 2017 — a move which reportedly prompted special counsel Robert Mueller to examine whether Trump sought to obstruct justice by hindering the Russia investigation.