James Comey conducted FBI business using his personal Gmail account during the Clinton email investigation

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017.

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Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017.
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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

  • A report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general details how former FBI Director James Comey and agent Peter Strzok used personal Gmail accounts for FBI business.
  • Both Comey and Strzok forwarded government materials to their personal accounts on multiple occasions in a way that was inconsistent with official DOJ protocol.
  • The use of personal email accounts occurred while the bureau was investigating Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email sever.

Former FBI Director James Comey and agent Peter Strzok both used personal Gmail accounts to conduct FBI business on numerous occasions, according to an internal report released Thursday by the Department of Justice’s inspector general.

The 568-page report details findings of a DOJ internal investigation into the FBI’s conduct during its probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Page 425 of the report details five known instances in which Comey forwarded things from his unclassified FBI email account to a personal Gmail address between November 2016 and March 2017.

He forwarded items including drafts of mid-year remarks to FBI employees, requests for information from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, and drafts of his opening statement from his March 20, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

In an October 2016 speech at an FBI conference in San Diego, Comey said, “I have gotten emails from some employees about this, who said if I did what Hillary Clinton did I’d be in huge trouble. My response is you bet your ass you’d be in huge trouble. If you used a personal email, Gmail or if you [had] the capabilities to set up your own email domain, if you used an unclassified personal email system to do our business… you would be in huge trouble in the FBI.”

When asked about his use of a private email for bureau business by the DOJ’s investigators, Comey stated he did not use a personal email account or device for any classified or sensitive information, including grand jury information.

He said he only forwarded something when it constituted an “unclassified [document] that was going to be disseminated broadly, [such as a] public speech or public email to the whole organization.”

The DOJ’s guidelines on email only allow for employees to utilize personal email accounts in “exigent,” or necessary, circumstances, and make sure the information transmitted is captured in official DOJ records.

The inspector general report concluded that due to the lack of “exigent circumstances” and the frequency with which Comey used his personal account, it violated the DOJ’s official policy guidelines.

The inspector general report additionally found that FBI agent Peter Strzok, who no longer works at the bureau, also used a private email address for government business multiple times.

In an instance the report calls “troubling,” Strzok forwarded from his FBI to his personal account an email about a warrant his team was seeking to obtain to search the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the former congressman and husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The email reportedly included a draft of the search warrant affidavit which was under seal at the time.