7) Controversy #3 – why did she delete over 30,000 emails from her private server?
The decision to delete the remaining contents on her server stands out as the most incriminating of all of her actions, even if it is not deemed so legally, because it sends the perception of someone with something to hide…especially when she already had a private email server to begin with.
Clinton argues that she deleted the remaining contents on her server after turning over all her work-related emails to Congress because they were personal emails that weren’t relevant to her work, like about her daughter’s wedding and yoga. Hillary is legally allowed to delete personal correspondence.
So let’s look at WHEN she deleted her emails, because that can give us some clue into the WHY.
Summer of 2014: The State Department asks Hillary Clinton to turn over all correspondence for the public record, pursuant to requests from Congress’s investigation into the Benghazi attacks.
July-December 2014: Clinton says her lawyers decided which of her emails were work related and which were personal.
December 5th, 2014: Clinton officially submitted 30,490 emails, in the form of 55,000 pages, to the State Department as all her work-related emails. Her emails deemed personal were subsequently deleted.
March 2nd, 2015: Hillary’s use of a private email server is reported to the public.
March 27th, 2015: The House Select Committee subpoenaed (strongly requested) that she give her private email server to Congress. Clinton’s lawyer responded saying that everything remaining on the server had been deleted and rejected the notion of turning over her email server to a third-party independent investigation.
“During the fall of 2014, Secretary Clinton’s legal representative reviewed her firstname.lastname@example.org account for the time period from Jan. 21, 2009, through Feb. 1, 2013,” Kendall wrote. “After the review was completed to identify and provide to the Department of State all of the secretary’s work-related and potentially work-related emails, the secretary chose not to keep her non-record personal emails and asked that her account (which was no longer in active use) be set to retain only the most recent 60 days of email.”
“No emails from email@example.com for the time period Jan. 21, 2009, through Feb. 1, 2013, reside on the server. Thus, there are no firstname.lastname@example.org e-mails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate and legally authorized.”
August 11th, 2015: Clinton turns over her private email server to the Justice Department
So when exactly did she delete her emails? Here’s what the folks at PolitiFact say
To recap, Clinton’s private server was wiped clean —technically, filtering out emails older than 60 days — sometime between Dec. 5, 2014, and March 27, 2015. No clearer timeline has been stated.
I think we can see how this timeline looks suspicious to Congressional investigators.
Republicans argue that Hillary Clinton knew that Congress would ask for her email server the moment the State Department approached her over the summer asking her to turn over her emails to them . So in the interim 3.5 months after Hillary turned over her self-determined “work-related” emails to the State Department, but before Congress asked her to turn over the entire server, she deleted the remaining emails. Emails that her team alone determined to be personal and not work-related.
The timing of her decision to delete all her personal emails two years after leaving the State Department, and just three months before being asked to turn over her server, raises significant suspicion that this wasn’t just a routine cleaning-house of old email junk, but a calculated decision to delete any emails that could incriminate her in the Benghazi investigation, or something else. Thus, she dubbed these emails as personal and got rid of them before she’d be asked to turn them over. This implicates her in an obstruction of justice, and a violation of her 2009 Non-Disclosure Agreement.
When asked if she deleted her emails when facing a subpoena (a summoning to testify/submit evidence), Clinton faced severe backlash from Republicans when she said in an interview “I’ve never been under subpoena.”
She was technically still under subpoena at the time she deleted her emails for all documents related to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, which they argue she may have removed documents relating to. Clinton argues that the 900 pages provided to the Benghazi committee had already fulfilled that obligation.
So all of her emails are completely gone?
Not necessarily. This where computer forensic experts have launched into a debate about “deleting” information versus “wiping” information.
From Oxford graduate, and National Review writer Charles Cooke –
Unless a hard disk is deliberately and comprehensively wiped clean — “overwritten” in the correct parlance — it will retain a good amount of useful, accessible, intact information. On almost every system available, what appears to the user’s eye to have been “trashed” is in fact kept around unblemished until such time as the space it’s taking up is needed for something else. From the point of view of the person controlling the operating system, files that have been “erased” may indeed be inaccessible. For a person who knows what he is doing, however, those files can often be easily retrieved.
If she wiped her server, that means she intentionally made it so that no information could ever be recovered. If she simply hit the delete key, the FBI would likely be able to recover most of the information.
Hillary Clinton would not say whether the server had been wiped when she was asked about the issue after a town hall in North Las Vegas. A now infamous quote.
“What, like with a cloth or something? … I don’t know how it works digitally at all.”
But which server is in the hands of FBI investigators when she turned it over in August 2015? This question has been almost completely ignored in the reporting of this scandal.
*To anyone not reading sequentially, this was first brought up in Controversy #2 regarding illegal transmission of classified information
Let’s go back to our friends at Platte River Networks. Remember that there are now *two email servers* at play.
Hillary Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State in February 2013 and upgraded her server through Platte River Networks in June 2013. That summer Platte River Networks took Clinton’s email server from her home in New York, transferred it to a facility in New Jersey, and migrated the data to a new email server. The original server remained in the New Jersey facility until it was picked up by the FBI last August.
Once FBI investigators began to take an interest in the company and the server, employees at Platte River Networks began to suspect a coverup. This is from a letter submitted by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson.
“Any chance you found an old email with their directive to cut the backup back in Oct-Feb,” one Platte River employee asked another.
“I know they had you cut it once in Oct-Nov, then again to 30day in Feb-ish.”
“Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy shit”
These conversations suggest that the Clinton team was worried that all the data on the original server remained intact after the migration, and that they asked Platte to “cut the backup” to remove that information back between October and February before the FBI would come ask for it.
The “backup” likely refers to the cloud-based backup operated by tech company Datto Inc who Platte River Networks had partnered with.
Though Clinton claimed this server was blank, the FBI has reported that it was able to recover data from this original server. Whether or not it’s all of the original data, hopefully we will see what, if anything, Hillary Clinton was trying to hide.
These events are highly reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. You have two public figures at the highest level of government, accused of engaging in illegal activity, partially release evidence and attempt to hide potentially incriminating material.
As veteran Washington DC reporter Bob Woodward has said.
It, in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes. Thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversations that Nixon thought were exclusively his.
The only difference is, the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to turn over his tapes, he didn’t destroy them. Hillary has deleted her emails. While she may still face legal consequences, we should not understate the fact that right before the start of a Congressional investigation into her record-keeping practices, she deleted half of her records. And let’s not forget, Richard Nixon resigned as President. What will Hillary Clinton do if found guilty?
We may never find out what was in those 31,000+ emails, and maybe we shouldn’t since she says they’re about her personal life, but what if in that pile of deleted emails there was something that made American’s question everything their government has told them?