DOJ watchdog: Comey used personal email to conduct FBI business

DOJ watchdog: Comey used personal email to conduct FBI business
© Greg Nash

A new report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general says that former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyA question of privilege: How Trump could still gut the Mueller report The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe Nadler: Half of Trump probe targets likely to comply with document requests MORE and other bureau officials used personal email accounts to conduct government business.

The use of personal emails marks an ironic breach of protocol from Comey, given he oversaw the FBI's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

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Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his eagerly anticipated report Thursday afternoon on the FBI’s handling of the investigation in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The report also found that FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page used personal email accounts to conduct official bureau business. The report is likely to fuel criticisms of each individual amid accusations of bias from President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE and Republicans inside DOJ.

“We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business,” the report states.

In November 2016, Comey forwarded an email with the subject line “Midyear thoughts” to his personal account from his government account. The email detailed Comey’s reasoning for informing Congress that the FBI had restarted its Clinton investigation after initially finding no wrongdoing.

A month later, he forwarded another email to his personal account that proposed responses to two requests for information from the office of special counsel. 

Comey told the inspector general he did not use his personal email or laptop for sensitive or classified information and had no security concerns about the practice of using a personal account.

"It was incidental and I was always making sure that the work got forwarded to the government account to either my own account or [Jim] Rybicki, so I wasn't worried from a record-keeping perspective," he told investigators.

The inspector general also found multiple instances where FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page used personal email accounts for government business.

“Most troubling, on October 29, 2016, Strzok forwarded from his FBI account to his personal email account an email about the proposed search warrant the Midyear team was seeking on the [Anthony] Weiner laptop,” the report states.

“This email included a draft of the search warrant affidavit, which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time,” the report continues.

Republicans have seized on text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page before and shortly after the 2016 presidential election that were critical of Trump. The report found the messages did not impact their work on the investigation.