Watchdog Files Suit Against DOJ Seeking Comey’s Personal Emails

Documents were identified in recent report by inspector general

James Comey / Getty Images
James Comey / Getty Images

The government watchdog group Cause of Action filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Justice claiming that the agency has not responded to three Freedom of Information Act requests, one of which is seeking emails from former FBI Director James Comey's personal email accounts that deal with government business.

The fact that such emails existed at all was made known when the long-awaited FBI inspector general report on the bureau's handling of the Clinton email investigation was released in mid-June.

The Washington Free Beacon was first to report that Cause of Action filed FOIA requests on the same day the IG report was released seeking the Comey emails identified in the report.

Since then, Cause of Action argues the DOJ acknowledged receipt of the requests but has not proceeded any further, saying in the complaint that the DOJ "has failed to issue a final determination on or promptly produce records responsive to CoA Institute's FOIA requests within the applicable time limits."

The suit does not claim the DOJ has actively informed Cause of Action of a formal denial of the request.

"There is no reason for the U.S. Department of Justice to stonewall and ignore these FOIA requests," said Ryan Mulvey, a lawyer with the watchdog. "The requested emails, even though created or received on personal devices or in personal accounts, are agency records and the public has every right to access them. It should never have been necessary for us to sue the DOJ, the nation's chief law enforcement body, to force it to abide by its obligations under the FOIA."

The two other requests included in the suit also seek emails created or sent by other DOJ officials from personal accounts.

An official with the Department of Justice said the request is in progress.