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Buried in the nearly 500-page report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general Thursday was a potential bit of irony: Internal investigators discovered that while James Comey was overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email for official business, Comey himself was using personal email for official business.
The finding, pointed out on Twitter, drew a snarky admonishment from Clinton herself.
“But my emails,” Clinton posted Thursday on Twitter, echoing the phrase that her supporters have sarcastically used to mock what they see as Republicans’ obsession with her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
In his report released Thursday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz rebuked Comey for violating longstanding tradition and usurping the attorney general’s authority when he announced in July 2016 that Clinton would not face charges because there was no “clear evidence” that she “intended to violate” the law. But, Comey said, Clinton was “extremely careless” in her “handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” and the FBI found some classified information on her private email system.
“None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system,” Comey said at the time.
Meanwhile, Horowitz’s report released Thursday said: “We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business. We found that, given the absence of exigent circumstances and the frequency with which the use of personal email occurred, Comey’s use of a personal email account for unclassified FBI business to be inconsistent with Department policy.”
In addition to Clinton herself, her top spokesman on the 2016 campaign trail, Brian Fallon, took aim at Comey for the inspector general’s finding.
“Comey did an oped to prebut the IG report. But he neglects to mention or explain the IG’s finding that Comey himself used personal email for official business,” Fallon posted to Twitter on Thursday.
Nevertheless, the inspector general found that Peter Strzok, the senior FBI agent managing the Clinton email case, also “used his personal email accounts for official government business on several occasions.”
In one case, Strzok forwarded himself information “that appears to have been under seal at the time,” said Horowitz’s report. The matter has now been referred to the FBI to determine whether Strzok violated FBI or Justice Department policies, Horowitz said.