Report: Comey claimed Clinton was "grossly negligent" in handling emails in early drafts of assessment

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, 2017 in Washington, D.C.


In an early draft of former FBI Director James Comey's assessment of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides' mishandling of classified materials, Comey reportedly called the actions "grossly negligent," according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, citing documents received by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, reports that the phrase was included twice in a May 2016 draft of Comey's statement, which was written before he conducted interviews with several key witnesses, including Clinton herself. The final statement in July, however, used the phrase "extremely careless" instead. 

"There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the private email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified material," Comey wrote in the early draft.

Comey ultimately decided against prosecuting Clinton, but the controversy served as another blemish on the remainder of her presidential campaign. 

The Journal notes that Grassley received the records from the FBI last week and made the revelations public in a letter to the Bureau on Monday, in the hopes of seeking additional information about who made the changes to that language and when. 

Comey is set to share new details from his time as director in his forthcoming book "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership" where he will use "examples from some of the highest-stakes situations in the past two decades of American government," according to the book's publisher, Flatiron Books.

According to the publisher, Comey's book, which will be published in May of 2018, will "explore what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions."  

The former FBI director has stayed relatively under the radar since his termination from the role, tweeting rare updates under the moniker "Reinhold Niebuhr." On Monday, he tweeted under his own name, saying he was "grateful to Reinhold for the cover these last few years." 

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital