Last week the FBI denied Ty Clevenger's FOIA request for Hillary Clinton's emails due a supposed "lack of public interest." No really...once you've manage to stop laughing, you can read our prior post on the topic here: FBI Denies FOIA Request For Hillary Documents Due To "Lack Of Public Interest".
Alas, Clevenger isn't the type to give up so easily and managed to find a judge in Maryland who seemingly agrees that the willful destruction of evidence subject to a Congressional subpoena might not be just a "frivolous" issue that suffers from an overwhelming "lack of public interest." As the Washington Times points out today, Maryland judge Paul Harris Jr. has ordered the Maryland state bar to investigate former Hillary aides David Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson for their efforts in allegedly helping Hillary "destroy evidence."
A Maryland judge ordered the state bar to open an investigation Monday into the three lawyers who helped former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to delete her private emails.
Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. said the complaints lodged against David E. Kendall, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson were “egregious” and said the state bar couldn’t brush them aside by calling them “frivolous.”
“There are allegations of destroying evidence,” Judge Harris said at a hearing Monday morning, where he said the state’s rules require the bar to conduct investigations no matter who raises the complaint, and can’t brush accusations aside.
“I just think this is a rather easy decision at this point,” he said. “The court is ordering bar counsel to investigate.”
As we've noted before, this latest success for Clevenger comes after failures with judges in both Arkansas and the District of Columbia.
Bars in Arkansas and the District of Columbia, as well as federal courts, had brushed aside requests from Mr. Clevenger, who is seeking to have the lawyers suspended or disbarred.
But Judge Harris said Mr. Clevenger’s request “appears to have merit,” and Maryland will now have to at least launch an investigation and demand a response from the lawyers, Mr. Clevenger said.
Meanwhile, who can forget the emailed response that Clevenger received from the FBI alleging that they couldn't comply with his FOIA request because he had failed to demonstrate a "public interest in the disclosure" of Hillary's emails.
“You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject,” FBI records management section chief David M. Hardy told Mr. Clevenger in a letter Monday.
“It is incumbent upon the requester to provide documentation regarding the public’s interest in the operations and activities of the government before records can be processed pursuant to the FOIA,” Mr. Hardy wrote.
Apparently the FBI never saw this map...
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For those who may have missed it, we published a rather detailed report on how Hillary's emails suddenly 'disappeared', with the help of a few loyal aides of course, just over a year ago.
The story of how Hillary's "personal" emails came to be deleted using, the now infamous, BleachBit is quite the tale. Below we attempt to piece together how the story unfolded per the recent FBI disclosures.
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 Undisclosed PRN Staff Member 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. The Undisclosed PRN Staff Member deletes most of the emails from gmail but indvertently leaves 940.
- Early 2014 – Monica Hanley advises Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to wipe the Apple MacBook clean after uploading Hillary’s emails to the new PRN server but he forgets to do it
- Early 2014 - Undisclosed PRN Staff Member 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” 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 – Undisclosed PRN Staff Member has a conference call with “President Clinton’s Staff”
- March 25 – 31, 2015 – Undisclosed PRN Staff Member 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 Undisclosed PRN Staff Member forgot to erase 940 emails from the gmail account he created to help with the PRN server upload
And now the details...
Hillary resigned from the State Department in February 2013. Shortly thereafter, in "spring 2013", Hillary's close aide, Monica Hanley, worked with Bill Clinton's aide, Justin Cooper, to archive all of Hillary's emails from the "Pagliano Server" that Clinton used to house her State Department emails while serving as Secretary of State. With Cooper's assistance, Hanley was successful transferring all of Hillary's emails from the "Pagliano Server" to an Apple MacBook with a duplicate copy saved to a "Thumb Drive".
At that point, Hanley "forgot" to provide the archived emails to Clinton's staff. So apparently the Apple MacBook and Thumb Drive just stayed around Hanley's house for a year.
Then in February 2014, Hanley decided it wasn't the best idea to leave the email records of the former U.S. Secretary of State in her sock drawer forever. As such, she decided it was time to backup the archived emails to Clinton's new server hosted by Platte River Networks (PRN) in Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, she was not successful with the remote backup and mailed the computer to an Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to help with the task.
Apparently, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member also had difficulty uploading the emails to the new PRN server because the "Apple MacMail" format was incompatible with Microsoft Exchange. So, he/she came up with a workaround that involved transferring all of Clinton's emails to a new gmail account and then exporting them to the PRN server.
Gmail is pretty safe, right?
Monica Hanley then advised the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to "wipe the Archive Laptop" after the emails had been transferred to the new PRN server. But apparently he forgot to "wipe" and laptop and instead just deleted the old emails. But wouldn't you know it..."Neither Hanely nor [Undisclosed PRN Staff Member] could identify the current whereabouts of the Archive Laptop or thumb drive containing the archive, and the FBI does not have either item in its possession."
So the two pieces of physical hardware that could provide all the missing links in the Hillary email investigation have mysteriously gone missing. Anyone else find that odd?
Unfortunately, the "Undisclosed PRN Staff Member" was apparently not an "attention to detail" kind of guy as the FBI later discovered that he/she had left 940 of Clinton's emails on gmail. Of the 940 emails, 56 were classified as confidential and 302 were not included in the 55,000 page data dump to the State Department in December 2014.
Now this brings us all the way up to December 2014 when Clinton sent the 55,000 pages to the State Department. Recall, as Politico previously reported, Hillary brought in a former campaign staffer, Heather Samuelson (34 years old), to help determine which emails were "work related" and which "yoga related."
Shortly after providing that data dump to the State Department, in "December 2014 or January 2015," both Heather Samuelson and Cheryl Mills requested that all emails be removed from their computers using "a program called BleachBit to delete the e-mail-related files so they could not be recovered."
For her part, "Clinton stated she never deleted, nor did she instruct anyone to delete, her e-mails to avoid complying with FOIA, State or FBI requests for information."
Of course not. Hillary knew it would be a little too obvious to specifically instruct her staff to permanently delete the emails but she also knew it might be "inconvenient" to have them around. So, she simply "decided she no longer needed access to any of her e-mails older than 60 days."
See? She never specifically said to delete anything she just made a simple administrative decision on document retention policies.
Then, on March 4, 2015, Hillary received a subpoena from the House for all of her emails on her personal servers.
Which brings us to the "Oh Shit" moment.
On March 25, 2015, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member had a "conference call with President Clinton's staff." Apparently, in the days following that call, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member 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.
And, of course, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member is the only person responsible for the deletion as Mills, Hillary, President Clinton's Office were all blissfully unaware of the actions of their rogue IT guy of Platte River Networks in Denver, Colorado.
Ironically, the rogue IT guy from PRN even admits to deleting the emails even though 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."
Something tells us this "Undisclosed PRN Staff Member" is not going to make out as well as Hillary when all the dust settles, which of course she can 'wipe' with a cloth: