Google has been ordered to turn over all Hillary Clinton emails from a Gmail account believed to contain backups to communications from her personal server which her IT specialist, Paul Combetta, reportedly scrubbed using BleachBit.
Combetta allegedly used the Google account to transfer Clinton’s emails from a laptop to a server at Platte River Networks, after which BleachBit was used to remove all traces from the device.
On Wednesday, watchdog group Judicial Watch announced that Google had been served with a subpoena seeking all Clinton email from January 21, 2009 until February 1, 2013 from her time at the Obama State Department where she served as Secretary of State.
The Google subpoena comes in a Judicial Watch’s lawsuit that seeks records concerning “talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Judicial Watch famously uncovered in 2014 that the “talking points” that provided the basis for Susan Rice’s false statements were created by the Obama White House. This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015. -Judicial Watch
The issue of Gmail backups was raised during an August, 2019 hearing by US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who ordered JW to "shake this tree" and pursue the issue. Lamberth referenced a report released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in which he said he had some 'very troubling information’ about Combetta - who was granted immunity by the Obama Justice Department.
To the point - on March 25, 2015, Combetta had a "conference call with President Clinton’s staff." Apparently, in the days following that call, he (Combetta) had an "'oh shit’ moment" when he realized he had forgotten to wipe the PRN server clean as he had been instructed to do back in December by Cheryl Mills.
Therefore, sometime within the 6 days after a call with "President Clinton’s Staff," that PRN server was wiped clean using BleachBit despite the subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi received weeks earlier on March 4, 2016.
Here is a quick summary of the timeline of events:
- February 2013 – Hillary resigns from State Department
- Spring 2013 – Hillary aide Monica Hanley backs up Pagliano Server to Apple MacBook and a thumb drive
- February 2014 – Monica Hanley attempts to upload Hillary email archives to new Platte River Networks (PRN) server but encounters technical issues
- Early 2014 – Monica Hanley mails Apple MacBook to Combetta to upload Hillary email archives to new PRN server. Undisclosed PRN Staff Member then uploads Hillary’s emails to a gmail account and then transfers them over to the new PRN server. Combetta deletes most of the emails from gmail but indvertently leaves 940.
- Early 2014 – Monica Hanley advises Combetta to wipe the Apple MacBook clean after uploading Hillary’s emails to the new PRN server but he forgets to do it
- Early 2014 - Combetta allegedly mails Apple MacBook back to Clinton and it is promptly lost
- December 2014 – Hillary delivers 55,000 emails to State Department
- December 2014 / January 2015 – Heather Samuelson and Cheryl Mills request emails be deleted from their computer using BleachBit
- December 2014 / January 2015 – “Unknown Clinton staff member” (Combetta) instructs PRN to remove archives of Clinton emails from PRN server
- March 2, 2015 - NYT releases an article showing that Hillary used a personal email server in violation of State Department rules
- March 4, 2015 – Hillary receives subpoena from House Select Committee on Benghazi instructing her to preserve and deliver all emails from her personal servers
- March 25, 2015 – Combetta has a conference call with “President Clinton’s Staff”
- March 25 – 31, 2015 – Combetta has “oh shit” moment and realizes he forgot to wipe Hillary’s email archive from the PRN server back in December…which he promptly does using BleachBit despite later admitting he "was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail data on the PRN server."
- June 2016 – FBI discovers that Combetta forgot to erase 940 emails from the gmail account he created to help with the PRN server upload
It will be interesting to see what Google turns over - if anything. Maybe they’ll simply smash their servers with hammers?