It appears the New York Times is not following the Washington Post‘s advice to lay off the Clinton email story. The Gray Lady broke some big news Thursday night regarding the IT specialist who scrubbed Hillary Clinton’s emails from her private server despite an order from Congress to preserve them. The article was written in part by Michael S. Schmidt, the same reporter who broke the Clinton email story in March of 2015. According to the NYT, a law enforcement official and others briefed on the investigation said an immunity deal was made with Paul Combetta, the computer specialist who worked for Platte River Networks, the private Colorado firm that managed Clinton’s server.
Republicans have called for the department to investigate the deletions, but the immunity deal with the specialist, Paul Combetta, makes it unlikely that the request will go far. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the top Republican on the House oversight committee, asked the Justice Department on Tuesday to investigate whether Mrs. Clinton, her lawyers or the specialist obstructed justice when the emails were deleted in March 2015.
The Denver Post editorial board — also not heeding the Washington Post‘s advice — thinks something fishy is going on.
The FBI said that in December 2014 a top Clinton aide told Denver-based Platte River Networks to destroy an archive of e-mails from her private server, but the company failed to do so. Then, after The New York Times reported in early March 2015 details of then-Secretary Clinton’s use of a private server, the House committee investigating the deadly attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, ordered that her e-mails be preserved, and subpoenaed those related to the attack. Three weeks later, the story goes, the engineer responsible for deleting Clinton’s archive suddenly remembered the failed duty, and acted on it by deleting the e-mails with a program (wonderfully named BleachBit) that apparently rendered most of them unreadable.
Around the time of the engineer’s sudden remembrance, the FBI said, Platte River officials joined a conference call with a longtime Clinton aide and personal lawyer. But when the FBI tried to look into this call, they met with frustration. Platte River’s attorney told the engineer who did the deed to claim attorney-client privilege.
That just looks awful. So little wonder the Republican chairman of the House committee investigating Clinton’s e-mail arrangement — Utah’s Jason Chaffetz — has asked federal prosecutors to investigate whether she or others were involved in the decision to destroy those e-mails following the preservation order.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, reacted to the stunning news on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom Friday.
Gowdy explained that there are two types of immunity the IT specialist could have received: use and transactional.
“If the FBI and the Department of Justice gave this witness transactional immunity, it is tantamount to giving the triggerman immunity in a robbery case,” said Gowdy. He also said he was “stunned” when he read the New York Times article.
“It looks like they gave immunity to the very person you would most want to prosecute — which is the person who destroyed official public records after there was a subpoena and after there was a preservation order,” Gowdy said. “This is prosecutor 101. You don’t give immunity to the person who actually robbed the bank!”
Gowdy also expressed his astonishment that FBI Director James Comey declined to recommend indictment for Hillary despite clear indications that an effort was made to obstruct justice.
“He said he couldn’t make a case because he couldn’t prove intent — which is not an element of the offense,” Gowdy said. “And part of the way you prove criminal intent is destruction of evidence, consciousness of guilt, the multiple false explanations for why you did something — which are legion in this case from Sec. Clinton and others.”
Gowdy lamented that the DOJ gave immunity “to the trigger-people” and let everyone else go free. “You may want to give it to the getaway driver. You may want to give it to the person who helped count the money afterwards, but you don’t give immunity to the person who walked in and robbed the bank. That’s not that complicated, but that’s apparently what the FBI did.”