A federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to preserve any federal records that might be located on former FBI Director James Comey‘s personal email account. This comes following a DOJ Inspector General report revealed that Comey had used his personal email account for government business.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly‘s order came after conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch requested the preservation of Comey’s emails that may be responsive to a Freedom of Information Act request they made. That request–which is for any memos or notes regarding conversations Comey may have had with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-New York), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), or Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona)–is the subject of an ongoing FOIA lawsuit. The lawsuit also deals with a FOIA request by the Daily Caller News Foundation for records describing any meetings between Comey and Obama.
The Justice Department argued that an order compelling preservation of such records in Comey’s emails is unnecessary because there may not be any such emails that the FBI doesn’t already have in their possession. Also, the DOJ said that Comey already agreed to cooperate, so a court order is not needed.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly recognized the Justice Department’s points, but said that they didn’t make any argument for why a court order would cause any harm.
Law&Crime reached out to the Justice Department for comment but they have yet to respond.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton was pleased by the order, saying, “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.”
The judge made clear that her decision is not based on such fears of evidence being destroyed or lost. She said in her order that this is not an indication that there is “any concern on the Court’s behalf that Defendant or Director Comey would lose or purposefully destroy responsive records.”
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