A federal judge has ordered the Department of Justice to preserve federal information contained in the personal email account of former FBI Director James Comey. The order came after government watchdog Judicial Watch filed a motion for the documents with DOJ, which was rejected.
[T]he Court will allow [the DOJ] until September 28, 2018 to complete its review and release of any responsive, non-exempt records to Plaintiffs. That being said, [the DOJ] is also ORDERED to make rolling productions between today and September 28, 2018, at reasonable intervals, of any records that are reviewed and found to be responsive and non-exempt.
In order to avoid any possible issues later in this litigation, the Court will GRANT [Judicial Watch’s] Motion. [The DOJ] is ORDERED to take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that any records that are potentially responsive to either of the Plaintiffs’ FOIA requests located on former Director Comey’s personal e-mail account are preserved. Although it contends that such an order is unnecessary, [the DOJ] has not explained why this preservation order would prejudice Defendant or cause any undue burden.
The request for the preservation was justified by Judicial Watch through the citing of a DOJ Inspector General report released earlier this year.
"We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account (a Gmail account) to conduct FBI business," the report stated.
Last month, the FBI asked Comey to preserve his records more than a year after he was fired.
“The FBI has been playing shell games with Comey’s records and other records, so we’re pleased the court issued this preservation order,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “This preservation order helps to ensures no Comey records are going to be lost or destroyed. We expect the DOJ to take immediate steps to make sure the records are preserved, as the court ordered.”