“Not only do the FBI’s interview notes underscore Hillary Clinton’s terrible judgment, incompetence, and dishonesty, they raise serious questions about whether emails regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi were intentionally destroyed while under congressional subpoena. According to the FBI’s notes, ‘an intense round of deleting’ began weeks after lawmakers subpoenaed Clinton’s emails following the New York Times report exposing her secret server. Given this timeline and the fact the FBI recovered deleted emails that would have been subject to the subpoena, the FBI should make all of the relevant information surrounding the wiping of Clinton’s server public, including witness accounts from employees of Platte River Networks, which carried out the deletions. The cover-up is always worse than the crime, and voters have a right to know if these records were illegally destroyed and what role Clinton’s aides may have played.” – Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie
March 2, 2015: The New York Times Reports Article On Existence Of Clinton’s Private Email System
March 4, 2015: House Benghazi Committee Subpoenas Emails From Clinton’s Email System
March 9, 2015: A Preservation Request Is Sent By Cheryl Mills To Platte River Networks, The Company Handling Clinton’s Private Server
March 25, 2015: Platte River Networks Holds A Conference Call With Bill Clinton’s Staff
Sometime Between March 25-31, 2015: A Platte River Networks Employee Wipes Clinton’s Private Email Server With BleachBit, Deleting All Her Emails
The incomplete records of the Hillary Clinton email investigation released by the FBI raise questions about the conduct not only of Clinton but of her top aides and the staffers working under their direction. Perhaps the most serious is whether the Clinton team destroyed evidence which they were under legal order to save and produce to congressional investigators.
Out of a massive investigation, the FBI has released just two documents: a heavily-redacted version of its summary report and a writeup — the so-called 302 — from agents’ July 2 interview with Clinton. The rest, including reports from interviews with other players, remains secret, although the FBI has shared it with Congress, with redactions and under tight viewing restrictions.
On March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported the existence of the secret Clinton email system. The next day, Gowdy’s Benghazi Committee sent a letter to Kendall’s law firm “requesting the preservation and production of all documents and media” relating to Clinton’s emails. The day after that, March 4, the full Benghazi Committee issued a subpoena ordering Clinton to “produce all records in unredacted form” on the following:
For the time period of January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012, any and all documents and communications in your possession, and/or sent from or received by the email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,”>email@example.com, or any other email address or communications device used by you or another on your behalf, referring or relating to:
(a) Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi and Tripoli);
(b) weapons located or found in, imported or brought into, and/or exported or removed from Libya;
(c) the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and September 12, 2012, or;
(d) statements pertaining to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 or September 12, 2012.
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Remember that at that time the Benghazi Committee had not received a single Clinton email related to Benghazi.
Shortly after the New York Times report, according to the FBI, Mills asked Platte River Networks, the company that was handling the Clinton server, to do an inventory of what was on the servers. (Mills had, of course, ordered the old emails destroyed and a new retention policy put in place back in December 2014.) On March 25, 2014, the Platte River Networks people took part in a conference call with Bill Clinton’s staff. At that point, an intense round of deleting began.
Sometime between March 25 and March 31, according to the FBI, a tech worker not identified in the report had what he called an “oh shit” moment. He realized that he had not done what Mills had ordered back in December 2014. In his first interview with the FBI, on Feb. 18, 2016, the unidentified staffer “indicated that he did not recall conducting deletions based upon this realization.” But then, in a follow-up interview on May 3, 2016, the staffer “indicated he believed he had an ‘oh shit’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox.” The staffer used the now-notorious BleachBit to do the work, and manually deleted a backup as well.
But the story is a little more complicated than that. The FBI found that on March 9, 2015, Mills sent the Platte River Networks staff, including the unidentified worker, an email, in the words of the FBI, “referencing the preservation request from the Committee on Benghazi.” In his first interview with the FBI, the staffer told agents that “he did not recall seeing the preservation request referenced in the March 9, 2015 e-mail.” But then, in the May 3 follow-up interview, the staffer “indicated that, at the time he made the deletions in March 2015, he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail date on the [Platte River Networks] server.” The staffer also told the FBI he did not consult any colleagues, company legal counsel or anyone else “regarding the meaning of the preservation request.”
According to the FBI, the Platte River Networks staff had a conference call with Kendall and Mills on March 31. By then, the deleting was done. What did they talk about? The FBI report says Platte River’s attorney advised the staffer “not to comment on the conversation with Kendall based upon the assertion of attorney-client privilege.”
Mills told the FBI she knew nothing about the deletions the staffer made in March 2015. Clinton also said she knew nothing.
So what does the story mean? Does it mean an incompetent, or rogue, staffer deleted the emails on his own even though they were under subpoena — and then initially lied about it to the FBI? Or was there something else at work?