IG: Comey And FBI Officials Used Personal Email For FBI Business

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

Former FBI Director James Comey frequently used his personal email account for official FBI business, according to the Department of Justice Inspector General report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton probe.

The Clinton investigation, of course, hinged on the former secretary of state’s use of her personal email account for official — and sometimes classified — business.

In Comey’s case, he regularly used his personal email to conduct unclassified FBI business, which was found to be inconsistent with DOJ policy, according to the report. The report cites five instances in which Comey forwarded emails from his work account to his personal account. Those emails included sensitive documents, such as requests from the special counsel’s office, all-staff messages and drafts of the opening statements he planned to make during his March 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

When asked about his use of private email, Comey said it had to do with a technical issue — he didn’t have an unclassified FBI connection at home. He said he did it infrequently and took pains to follow records-keeping laws.

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 IG investigators.

Two other FBI officials who have found themselves at the center of accusations of an anti-Trump bias within the FBI — Lisa Page and Peter Strzok — used their personal accounts for work as well. Strzok used his personal email on “several occasions,” including forwarding an email from his work account to his personal account that contained records related to the investigation into disgraced former New York lawmaker Anthony Weiner that were “under seal at the time.”

Page told IG investigators that she also used her personal account for work, but both she and Strzok cited restraints associated with FBI issued cellphones as rationale for using the private accounts.

Page said that she was regularly frustrated by the lack of an autocorrect function on the FBI devices, which was the “bane of literally every agent of the FBI’s existence.”

[I]n particular, the autocorrect function is the bane of literally every agent of the FBI’s existence because those of us who care about spelling and punctuation, which I realize is a nerdy thing to do, makes us crazy because it takes legitimate words that are spelled correctly and autocorrects them into gobbledygook,” she said. “And so, it is not uncommon for either one of us to just either switch to our personal phones or, or in this case, where it was going to be a, a fairly substantive thing that he was writing, to just save ourselves the trouble of not doing it on our Samsungs. Because they are horrible and super-frustrating.”

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