By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) Several hundred emails from former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton sat unprotected in a private Gmail account for more than two years and remained there about two weeks before then-FBI Director James Comey exonerated her for criminal mishandling of national secrets.
The Epoch Times reported that the emails came under scrutiny by GOP lawmakers because of the account name — email@example.com — which was very similar to that of a Chinese firm, Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Machinery CO., Ltd.
The sameness of the account name and the Chinese company gave Republicans some concern that a foreign government-linked entity had managed to gain access to the emails.
Paul Combetta, an employee for Platte River Networks (PRN), the company that managed Clinton’s private email server between 2013-2015, said he created the name of the email account and used it in February 2014 to transfer Clinton’s archived emails to a new server.
Those emails appeared to cover a period from around 2009, when she was named President Obama’s secretary of state, to mid-2013, or around the time she left the State Department to prepare for her 2016 presidential bid.
However, according to a June 2018 report on the Clinton investigation by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, Combetta did not delete all of the emails from the Gmail account following the transfer.
“The FBI determined that 820 of Clinton’s emails, dated between October 25, 2010, and December 31, 2010, remained in the … email account,” the Horowitz report said.
But it was not until June 20, 2016, roughly two-to-three weeks before Comey exonerated Clinton on July 5, that the FBI sought a search warrant “to view the content of these emails and search for other emails relevant to the investigation,” the IG report said, adding that “the FBI was able to confirm that classified information continued to reside in … the account belonging to Combetta.”
Google scans the contents of a user’s email, according to a 2017 Variety report, in order to better customize experiences. And since Google has been working more closely with the Chinese government in recent years, there is a distinct possibility, according to the IG, that Beijing got access to all of Clinton’s emails as well.
Horowitz assured Congress last year that he would investigate the FBI’s role in probing the Gmail account issue.
He notified the Senate of his findings in an April 9 letter (pdf) to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) with his office’s findings.
The IG “did not identify any information obtained by the FBI during the … investigation reflecting that Combetta’s … email account was associated with a Chinese company or the Chinese government,” the letter said.
“In addition, based on the evidence the DOJ OlG reviewed, the FBI did not find evidence during its … investigation that Combetta (or anyone else) forwarded classified emails from the … email account to a foreign or domestic entity.”
But the letter didn’t say whether the FBI probed who and when the email account was accessed. However, the letter said, the FBI was likely to have access to that information since it had obtained a court order to get “business records concerning the Combetta … email account.”
As The National Sentinel reported in July, Clinton can still be charged and even indicted for any criminal mishandling of classified information.
Clinton committed her alleged violations of the Espionage Act during a time of war; that is, the war on terror that continues to this day. Under current federal statutes, persons accused of committing crimes that endanger national security can be charged up to six months after said war is over, “as proclaimed by the president or a joint resolution of Congress.”
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