Former FBI Director James Comey used his personal Gmail account to conduct official bureau business, the Justice Department Inspector General’s report concludes.
According to the report:
On November 8, 2016, Comey forwarded to his personal email account from his unclassified FBI account a proposed post-election message for all FBI employees that was entitled “Midyear thoughts.” This document summarized Comey’s reasoning for notifying Congress about the reactivation of the Midyear investigation. In late December 2016, Comey forwarded to his personal email account from his unclassified FBI account multiple drafts of a proposed year-end message to FBI employees. On December 30, 2016, Comey forwarded to his personal email account from his unclassified FBI account proposed responses to two requests for information from the Office of Special Counsel.
On January 6, 2017, Comey forwarded to his personal email account from his unclassified FBI account an email from Rybicki to Kortan highlighting language that needed to be corrected in a Wall Street Journal article. In mid-March 2017, Comey sent from his personal email account to his own and Rybicki’s unclassified FBI accounts multiple drafts of Comey’s proposed opening statement for his March 20, 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.
In an interview with Justice Department investigators, Comey confirmed he used both a personal email account and device, explaining he only used them when handling unclassified information.
“I did not have an unclass[ified] FBI connection at home that worked,” Comey told watchdog investigators. “And I didn’t bother to fix it, whole ‘nother story, but I would either use my BlackBerry, must have been or Samsung…my phone, I had two phones—a personal phone and a government phone. And so I would use, for unclassified work, I would use my personal laptop for word processing and then send it into the FBI.”
When asked if he had concerns about conducting official business using personal email services or devices, the former FBI Director said he had none.
“Because it was incidental and I was always making sure that the work got forwarded to the government account to either my own account or Rybicki, so I wasn’t worried from a record-keeping perspective and it was, because there will always be a copy of it in the FBI system and I wasn’t doing classified work there, so I wasn’t concerned about that,” Comey told investigators.
As previously reported, the watchdog concluded Comey “dramatically” broke with FBI department norms in its handling of the Clinton email probe.
“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” the report says.