- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2017

The FBI declined to comment Thursday after an ambitious journalist appeared to identify previously unreported Twitter and Instagram accounts operated privately by the bureau’s director, James B. Comey.

Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo offered a compelling case Thursday afternoon linking the FBI chief to a pair of private accounts operated under the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr,” an American theologian and the subject of the Mr. Comey’s senior college thesis.

According to Ms. Feinberg, her inquest began after the FBI director mentioned his social media accounts in passing during a Wednesday evening appearance at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance leadership dinner in Alexandria, Virginia.

“One of my daughters shared with me a tweet … actually I’m on Twitter now. I have to be on Twitter,” Mr. Comey told the audience.

“I have an Instagram account with nine followers. Nobody is getting in. They’re all immediate relatives and one daughter’s serious boyfriend. I let them in because they’re serious enough. I don’t want anybody looking at my photos. I treasure my privacy and security on the internet. My job is public safety,” he added.

Ms. Feinberg interpreted his admission as a challenge and began trawling for social media clues that could link her to the FBI director’s internet accounts, Before long, she found a lead upon discovering his son, Brien Comey, on Instagram. That revelation ultimately led her to a now-defunct Twitter account, @twittafuzz, presumably maintained previously by the younger Comey.

“Shout out to @twittafuzz for having his dad as the new head of the FBI… Can we just do crime whenever we want now?” a Twitter contact tweeted on May 20, 2013. “Damn @twittafuzz watching the Simpsons and your dad got Homer arrested and almost got him killed for movie piracy. FBI needs to chill lol” another person tweeted in July 2015.

The defunct Twitter account led the reporter back to Instagram where she found a video of the younger Comey that had garnered a comment from an individual she presumed to be the FBI director’s son. When she attempted to befriend the Instagram account, the photo app algorithmically suggested Ms. Feinberg follow several other users, including many with the surname “Comey.”

“Among the various Comeys, only two of the suggested accounts lacked both real names and profile photos. And only one of these had anywhere near the ‘nine followers’ that James Comey claimed to have,” Ms. Feinberg wrote.

The remaining Instagram account belonged to a user named “reinholdniebuhr,” which the reporter quickly linked to Mr. Comey’s senior thesis by conducting a cursory Google search. She then resorted back to Twitter where she was able to eventually the same pseudonym to another handle, @projectexile7, that very well may refer to “Project Exile,” a federal program Mr. Comey launched prior to being appointed director of the FBI.

The Project Exile account only followed 27 other users as of Thursday afternoon, including mostly reporters, news outlets and other government and law enforcement accounts, as well as the Twitter account of Benjamin Wittes, a legal expert and close personal friend of Mr. Comey‘s, according to Ms. Feinberg.

“We don’t have any comment,” the FBI told Gizmodo.

Reinhold Niebuhr hasn’t been so silent, however. The otherwise locked down Twitter account posted its first public tweet Wednesday — a link to the FBI’s employment website and an image that said: “Actually I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.”

While the evidence is hardly “definitive proof” linking Mr. Comey to the account, the reporter said “it would take a nearly impossible confluence of coincidences for it to be anyone else.”

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