For months now, we’ve been told that Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails were permanently erased and destroyed beyond recovery. But newly released FBI notes strongly suggest they still exist in several locations — and they could be recovered, if only someone would impanel a grand jury and seize them.
In a May interview with FBI agents, an executive with the Denver contractor that maintained Clinton’s private server revealed that an underling didn’t bleach-clean all her subpoenaed emails, just ones he stored in a data file he used to transfer the emails from the server to Clinton’s aides, who in turn sorted them for delivery to Congress.
The Platte River Networks executive, whose name was redacted from the interview report, said PRN tech Paul Combetta “created a ‘vehicle’ to transfer email files from the live mailboxes of [Clinton Executive Services Corp.] email accounts [and] then later used BleachBit software to shred the ‘vehicle,’ but the email content still existed in the live email accounts.”
Unless one of Clinton’s aides had the capability to log in to the PRN server as an administrator and remove a mailbox, her archived mailboxes more than likely still reside somewhere in that system. And they may also materialize on an internal “shared drive” that PRN created to control access to the Clinton email accounts among PRN employees. PRN has been under FBI order to preserve all emails and other evidence since the start of its investigation last year.
Clinton’s missing “personal” emails may also be captured on a Google server. According to FBI notes, Combetta “transferred all of the Clinton email content to a personal Google email address he created.” Only the FBI never subpoenaed Google to find out.
The FBI documents also reveal that Hillary’s server was mirrored on a cloud server in Pennsylvania maintained by Datto Inc., a tech firm that performs cloud-to-cloud data protection.
When PRN contracted with Datto, it requested that Hillary’s server be backed up locally and privately. But the techs forgot to order the private node, and they sent the server backup data “remotely to Datto’s secure cloud and not to a local private node.” The FBI never subpoenaed Datto’s server, either.
Then there’s the laptop Combetta loaded with the Clinton email archive and allegedly shipped back to a Clinton aide in Washington, who claims it got “lost” in the mail. Not so fast: The latest FBI document dump includes a series of interviews with an unidentified former “special assistant” to Clinton at the State Department who said the elusive Apple MacBook laptop was actually “shipped to the Clinton Foundation in New York City.”
But in a June follow-up interview, FBI agents inexplicably left it up to this critical witness to “inquire about the shipment” with the foundation’s mailroom manager, who works in Rockefeller Center. The FBI still does not have the laptop in its possession.
It turns out that investigators also know the whereabouts of the original Apple server Clinton used in her first two months in office. Recovering that equipment is critical because it contains a mass of unseen emails from Jan. 21, 2009, to March 18, 2009 — a critical period in Clinton’s tenure at State. Witnesses say the equipment was not discarded, as first believed, but “repurposed” as a “work station” used by staff in Clinton’s Chappaqua residence.
Yet the FBI says it “was unable to obtain the original Apple server for a forensic review.” Instead of seizing it, the agency has taken Clinton’s aides’ and lawyers’ word that the server’s bereft of relevant emails. In fact, the agency confesses on Page 27 of its 47-page investigative case summary that it failed to recover other equipment and data as well: “The FBI’s inability to recover all server equipment and the lack of complete server log data for the relevant time period limited the FBI’s forensic analysis of the server systems. As a result, FBI cyber analysis relied, in large part, on witness statements.”
Congressional investigators say FBI Director James Comey in his year-long “investigation” didn’t even bother to send agents to search Clinton’s homes in Chappaqua or Washington, DC. Nor did he dispatch them to the offices of the Clinton Foundation or Clinton Executive Services Corp. in New York City.
“The Clinton residences and other locations should have been treated like any other criminal investigation — with federal grand jury subpoenas or search warrants issued by judges and served in the middle of the night,” said veteran FBI special agent Michael M. Biasello, who worked criminal cases out of New York and other field offices for 27 years.
“Never — I repeat, never — in my career have I or any FBI agent known to me investigated a criminal case without the use of a federal grand jury, grand jury subpoenas or search warrants,” he said. “It’s disgraceful they weren’t used in this case.”
The most damning evidence against Clinton may never have been actually destroyed. It was simply left untouched by the FBI.
Paul Sperry, a former DC bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily and Hoover Institution media fellow, is author of “Infiltration.” Sperry@