Justice Dept Gave Immunity to Computer Specialist Who Deleted Clinton Emails

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BY: David Rutz

The computer specialist who deleted Hillary Clinton’s emails and flouted orders from Congress to preserve them was granted immunity by the Department of Justice during the investigation into her private email server, the New York Times reports.

The story noted Republicans in Congress have called for an investigation into the deletions and whether they constituted obstruction of justice. The specialist, Paul Combetta, joins Bryan Pagliano, who set up Clinton’s home-brewed server, in receiving immunity from the Justice Department during its probe:

The F.B.I. described the deletions by Mr. Combetta in a summary of its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s account that was released last Friday. The documents blacked out the specialist’s name, but the law enforcement official and others familiar with the case identified the employee as Mr. Combetta. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing matters that were supposed to remain confidential.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said that the deletions by the specialist, who worked for a Colorado company called Platte River Networks, had already been “thoroughly examined by the F.B.I. prior to its decision to close out this case.”

“As the F.B.I.’s report notes,” Mr. Fallon said, “neither Hillary Clinton nor her attorneys had knowledge of the Platte River Network employee’s actions. It appears he acted on his own and against guidance given by both Clinton’s and Platte River’s attorneys to retain all data in compliance with a congressional preservation request.”

According to the bureau’s report, Combetta initially said he did not remember deleting the emails with BleachBit, but later changed his story.

In the days after Mrs. Clinton’s staffers called Platte River Networks in March 2015, Mr. Combetta said he realized that he had not followed a December 2014 order from Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers to have the emails deleted. Mr. Combetta then used a program called BleachBit to delete the messages, the bureau said.

In Mr. Combetta’s first interview with the F.B.I. in February, he said he did not recall seeing the preservation order from the Benghazi committee, which Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, Cheryl D. Mills, had sent to Platte River. But in his May interview, he said that at the time he made the deletions “he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data” on the Platte River server.