In June, the Inspector General’s report revealed that James Comey had been using a private Google Mail (or Gmail) account for Federal Bureau of Investigation business. This means that at least some of his emails might not have been recorded by the FBI’s practices, and there could be no record of them other than the original email itself.
Fearing that these emails might disappear if left to their own devices, the Daily Caller News Foundation and Judicial Watch asked a federal judge last week Thursday to order the Department of Justice to preserve all of former FBI Director James Comey’s ‘personal’ emails related to two Freedom of Information Act requests. These emails could be related to Barack Obama and other top democrats including Chuck Schumer, but Comey claims that he sent them via an ‘unclassified’ account from his home.
Both organizations also filed lawsuits against the Justice Department on April 25, related to a Freedom of Information Act request.
In the motion before Judge Kollar-Kotelly, both groups said that they were troubled to find that the FBI had not made clear what steps, if any, they took to preserve important government messages.
Furthermore, the Bureau would not reveal what steps they had even asked him to take to make sure that relevant messages were preserved.
So far, the only documents that the DOJ has released relevant to Comey were 15 pages of memos that he authored after meetings with the President, Donald Trump. These papers are not direct quotes or transcripts, but rather Comey’s impression of the conversations he had.
In order to get that from the Department of Justice, the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees had to repeatedly threaten a Congressional subpoena.
Indeed, the DOJ has been very slow to respond to requests and demands for information and documents concerning Comey.
Former director Comey told the OIG that he did not have an unclassified FBI connection at his house that functioned, and he never bothered to fix it.
The report says that the OIG asked him if he thought that doing so was in keeping with FBI regulations, to which he replied that he thought it was, but he wasn’t certain off the top of his head.
According to that same report, he ‘routinely’ deletes all his emails from the account each day, and then clears the deleted messages from his folder, a practice he allegedly began about two years ago.
Incidentally, it was about two years ago that the ‘investigation’ into members of the Donald Trump campaign began in earnest.
Surely, that is nothing more than a strange coincidence, rather than an attempt to hide information that might cast him, and his choices, in a negative light?
More worrying than James Comey’s personal Gmail account being used for FBI business (something that a number of people have been accused of doing to avoid an electronic ‘paper trail,’ including Lois Lerner of the Internal Revenue Service), is the failure to keep basic control of possible evidence in the case.
It sounds little different from the failure of the FBI and DOJ to stop Hillary Clinton and her associates from deleting emails off of her private email server.
Does the Federal Bureau of Investigation no longer understand how to attain, and maintain, evidence? That’s a basic portion of the investigation.
Poorly maintained evidence, or evidence not controlled at all, can go missing, or wind up useless in court.
If Comey has been routinely cleaning his emails out, they could be found by forensic investigators who were given access to the machines.
This order would simply attempt to stop the loss of those documents, until further action can be taken to force their release.
The worst part is that these are all things that the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and/or the Office of the Inspector General should have done months ago.
A failure to maintain real records makes it impossible to trust that the government is fully accountable to its citizens. That slowly, surely erodes trust in the government as a whole.
Sort of like what’s been happening for years in the United States of America.