‘There is reason to be concerned that the responsive records could be lost or destroyed…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia instructed the Department of Justice to protect the emails of former FBI Director James Comey, so that federal documents could be preserved until Judicial Watch completes its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“The Court will allow [the DOJ] until September 28, 2018 to complete its review and release of any responsive, non-exempt records to Plaintiffs,” the court ruled. “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.”
The Justice Department and the FBI opposed an “order for preservation” request by Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation filed on July 27.
“There is reason to be concerned that the responsive records could be lost or destroyed,” the groups wrote, according to Judicial Watch.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General said, “We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account (a Gmail account) to conduct FBI business.”
Despite the evidence that Comey’s emails were not held on a secure server, the DOJ and FBI opposed an order to secure them.
The DOJ reportedly sent Comey a private letter asking him to keep his emails.
The court sided with Judicial Watch and DCNF because the DOJ did not provide sufficient reason to oppose the order.
“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 court ruling said.
The court did not rule on whether Comey had emails relating to the FOIA request or whether they were liable to be destroyed.
The FOIA request seeks records related to conversations between Comey and any of the following individuals: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Senator John McCain.
Judicial Watch also asked for any documents mentioning meetings between Comey and Obama.
“The FBI has been playing shell games with Comey’s records and other records, so we’re pleased the court issued this preservation order,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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.”