Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote in a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray on Monday that “it’s disturbing” that former FBI Director James Comey and other employees had private email communications while investigating HillaryClinton’s email scandal.
Last week Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz released his highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The report revealed that Comey “dramatically” broke with bureau norms regarding his handling of the Clinton email investigation. The IG report also disclosed a text exchange between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page in which Strzok told Page that “We’ll stop it,” when asked about Donald Trump potentially becoming the 45th President of the United States.
In his letter to FBI Director Wray, Grassley noted:
I asked you to explain to the Committee why the FBI failed to search or even request that Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok voluntarily produce official work-related material from their personal devices or e-mail accounts. My letter cites specific examples of texts that appear to be evidence of intent to use personal devices for work-related communications. The Committee has received no reply.
Chairman Grassley also wrote that Comey used a private email account and personal devices to conduct official FBI business. When interviewed by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) whether he was concerned about using private accounts for official agency purposes, Comey said, “I don’t know. I think so, but I don’t know. I remember talking to Jim [Rybicki] about it at one time, and I had the sense that it was okay.”
“The Justice Department should apply at least as much scrutiny to its own former Director as it applied to the former Secretary of State,” Grassley wrote in his letter.
Although it does not appear as egregious and prolonged, they also used non-government systems for official work. In the FBI’s response to the Inspector General’s report, it claims, “there is no finding or indication that any classified material ever transited former Director Comey’s, Ms. Page’s, or Mr. Strzok’s personal devices or accounts.” However, unless the FBI has obtained and examined those records, then it simply cannot know one way or the other.
In an interview, Comey said that the question of him transmitting classified information on unclassified accounts and devices is “frivolous.”
Chairman Grassley asked FBI Director Wray to answer the following questions by the end of the month:
- Did the FBI request that former Director Comey provide any official materials from his personal devices or email accounts? If not, why not; if so, did he cooperate?
- Did the FBI conduct or attempt to conduct searches of Comey’s personal devices and email accounts?
- Do you agree with Comey that the question of whether he transmitted classified information on unclassified systems is “frivolous”?
- Has the FBI attempted to secure or retrieve any classified information transmitted by Comey on any unclassified systems?
“It is disturbing that FBI employees tasked with investigating Secretary Clinton, including the former Director, appear to have engaged in strikingly similar conduct,” Grassley remarked in his letter to FBI Director Wray.