The Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch asked a federal judge Thursday to order the Department of Justice to preserve all of former FBI Director James Comey’s personal emails that were related to two Freedom of Information Act requests.
Both groups filed their motion
before U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Colleen Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan.
Judicial Watch and TheDCNF filed suit
against the Justice Department on April 25 as part of the FOIA requests, which seek records of Comey’s meetings and conversations with then-President Barack Obama, as well as summaries of conversations the former FBI director held with then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer.
The new motion asks the court to order the Justice Department to preserve all of Comey’s records related to the requests to ensure they are not destroyed.
After multiple requests from Judicial Watch and TheDCNF, the FBI on July 26 said it had sent a request to Comey to preserve federal records responsive to the FOIA requests and “asked him to return any agency records in his possession not already returned to the FBI,” the motion said.
The Justice Department, however, refused to share a copy of that request with Judicial Watch and The DCNF.
In the motion, both groups told Kollar-Kotelly it was troubling that they “do not know specifically what the FBI asked Comey to do and what, if any, steps Comey is taking to ensure preservation” and that they “are concerned records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA requests will be lost or destroyed.”
The Justice Department’s Inspector General in a June 2018 report found
that Comey used a personal gmail account to conduct formal FBI business.
In April, the Justice Department released
15 pages of memos Comey authored after his meetings and conversations with President Donald Trump, but the DOJ has otherwise been slow to release such documents. Those 15 pages were only released after the chairmen of the House intelligence and government oversight committees threatened the Justice Department with a congressional subpoena.
The IG’s 500-page June 2018 report said
Comey’s private email account was “inconsistent” with Justice Department rules. The report was originally established to focus on the adequacy of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of her private email server and personal emails for government business.
Comey told the IG that “I did not have an unclass[ified] FBI connection at home that worked. And I didn’t bother to fix it,” the IG report shows.
“We asked Comey if the use of personal email in this manner was in accordance with FBI regulations,” the report said. “Comey replied, ‘I don’t know. I think so, but I don’t know.'”
The report added: “Director Comey routinely deletes all emails from his [Gmail] account each day, and then clears the deleted messages folder. He began this practice about two years ago.”