Rep. Louie Gohmert is convinced Hillary Clinton’s private email server was compromised, but he’s not so sure anymore that China hacked it.
A memo containing new information about Paul Combetta, the IT aide who Clinton hired to manage the homebrew server in her basement, has the Texas Republican congressman wondering if the man who has been accused of misleading the FBI about erasing Clinton’s emails is being deceptive again.
“Based on the new information, it is unclear if Combetta has been dishonest again with assistance from friends to cover for him, or if China or some other entity was behind the hack that allowed another server to receive all but four of Hillary Clinton’s 30,000-plus emails,” Gohmert told the Washington Examiner.
Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin released a memo last week on an investigation that began after an anonymously sourced article from the Daily Caller News Foundation in April 2018 said a Chinese company succeeded in hacking the former secretary of state’s server. The Senate inquiry, which relied in part on the FBI, the intelligence community inspector general, and the Justice Department inspector general, failed to turn up evidence of a successful breach, let alone one orchestrated by China.
The memo shows Frank Rucker, a former analyst for the intelligence community’s inspector general, observed what he called an “anomaly” during his work-related review of emails from Clinton’s private email server. Rucker believed the routing information of all but four of the 30,490 copies of Clinton’s emails he looked at included a suspicious embedded email address, which ended up being the “dummy” email address noted by the DOJ’s inspector general.
The intelligence community inspector general contacted the FBI about the email address in Clinton’s server, called CarterHeavyIndustries@gmail.com, prompted by a Google search that pulled up results for Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Machinery in the Shandong Province of China.
Bureau investigators talked to Combetta and the specialist divulged that he created this “dummy” email account to transfer archived emails into a mailbox entitled “HRC archive” on another server and claimed the name was chosen randomly. The FBI has said there is no evidence that Clinton’s private server was hacked.
Combetta is the same IT specialist working for Platte River Networks in Colorado who deleted copies of Clinton’s emails using a program called Bleachbit. He initially told the bureau he did not recall erasing the messages nor seeing a preservation order from Congress, but later walked back those assertions. Combetta was later given immunity by the Justice Department during its investigation into Clinton’s email server.
In Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 2018 report on the Clinton email investigation, the watchdog wrote that investigators “believed that Combetta had not been forthcoming about, among other things, his role in deleting emails from the PRN server following the issuance of a congressional preservation order.” Horowitz found Combetta’s decision to delete the emails and then to “lie about it to the FBI” to be “particularly serious.”
Gohmert is one of the Republican lawmakers to assert a foreign entity obtained Clinton’s emails. The congressman stressed Combetta, who according to the memo “refused to speak” with the DOJ inspector general or Congress for their investigations, is not yet in the clear.
“If Combetta did it, then he would appear to be vulnerable to prosecution for things not contemplated in any immunity agreement he may have had,” he told the Washington Examiner. “Hillary Clinton’s server was compromised regardless of who sent emails to another unsecure server. It also appears classified material still did get into the wrong hands.”
The FBI says it was only able to recover about 5,000 of the emails Combetta scrubbed, and they were released in tranches up until earlier this year as part of a lawsuit brought by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Clinton has said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified,” but the FBI found 110 emails did contain classified information.
Former FBI Director James Comey publicly recommended in 2016 that no charges be brought against Clinton, who was then a candidate for president, but admonished Clinton and her colleagues for being “extremely careless” in handling classified information.
Back in May, Gohmert accused FBI Director Christopher Wray of being involved in a pro-Clinton cover-up and tied to China. “It comes in and decides we are going to go after the attorney general who is trying to clean up the mess,” Gohmert said during the congressional hearing. “Christopher Wray sure hasn’t. Instead of asking from the intel community, ‘Let us see the 100% certain proof you have that Hillary Clinton’s personal server was hacked by China,’ no, he covers it up and we still haven’t seen it. They haven’t asked to see it.”
Gohmert still accuses the FBI of not being “forthcoming regarding any type of information having to do with Hillary Clinton.” And he told the Washington Examiner, “It would have been nice if those ‘in the know’ at DOJ and FBI had been honorable beginning three years ago.”
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website