News & Politics

House Oversight Committee Orders Reddit to Preserve Paul 'BleachBit' Combetta's Posts

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has ordered Reddit to preserve posts allegedly written by the IT technician they suspect was behind the deletion of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Separately, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith has given several Platte River Networks employees until tomorrow to arrange “transcribed interviews” with the panel pertaining to their management of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Platte River employee Paul Combetta has been under a microscope all week after a string of two-year-old Reddit posts surfaced showing that he queried fellow Reddit users about how to “strip out a VIP’s (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email” and “replace it with a placeholder address as to not expose it” — right around the time the Select Committee on Benghazi  was requesting Clinton’s emails from the State Department.

“Basically, they don’t want the VIP’s email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out,” “Stonetear” (Combetta) bluntly explained.

The post obliterates Clinton’s defense that the Platte River Network employee “acted alone.”

“As the FBI’s report notes,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said on September 8, “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.”

The Reddit posts — if proven to be genuine — may be the smoking gun Congress needs to prove that elusive proof of “intent” the FBI managed to miss in its investigation.

Combetta, in March of 2015, was more than happy to “do a solid” for a “VERY VIP” Democrat until he had a major “oh sh*t moment.” And I’m not talking about the time he suddenly remembered that he was supposed to delete a bunch of Hillary’s emails in December of 2014, and ended up scrubbing them for her in March of 2015 (even though they were at that point under subpoena).

I’m talking about the time (August of 2015) when he realized that he couldn’t provide an email trail to investigators that could protect him from being culpable for destroying evidence —  because he had taken all of Clinton’s orders via telephone. “Shady” Hillary, it suddenly occurred to him, would get off scot-free and (“Oh sh*t!”) he and his partner in crime, Bill Thornton, would be left holding the bag.

After the posts were exposed on Monday, “Stonetear”  deleted his account, but an archive of his posts can be seen here.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday ordered Reddit to preserve the deleted posts.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) confirmed that the committee has issued a preservation order and that Reddit is “cooperating.”

The order “has the weight of law, you can’t destroy things and hope things magically get erased,” he told The Hill Wednesday.

At issue is whether an employee of the Denver, Colo.-based tech firm that managed Clinton’s server sought advice on how to digitally alter the address lines of emails thought to be from the former secretary of State — the day after the State Department had agreed to provide certain Clinton emails to the Benghazi Committee.

The allegations “fit the pattern of what we think was happening,” Chaffetz said.

In his letter to Platte River, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, “If true, these details raise new questions as to whether Platte River Networks purposefully defied legal document retention requirements. Further, it is unclear if the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of these facts at the time of their investigation. By speaking with Platte River Networks employees, including Paul Combetta, the Committee will be able to provide clarity to these outstanding questions directly related to its investigation. Additionally, I am concerned that Mr. Combetta may have made an attempt to delete relevant posts, including the post mentioned above, from his reddit.com username just hours after reports initially surfaced on September 19, 2016, about his request for assistance on deleting email addresses from archived emails. This raises significant concerns that materials directly related to the Committee’s investigation and responsive to its outstanding requests are being actively destroyed in an attempt to conceal relevant information from coming to light.”