Posted: 11:06 am Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
Refusing to cooperate with Republicans pressing an election year investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server from her time as Secretary of State, two employees of a Colorado tech company took the Fifth Amendment at a hearing on the matter Tuesday, as another former Clinton aide ignored a subpoena and did not show up at a politically charged House hearing.
“Who told you to delete the emails?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee asked Paul Combetta of Platte River Networks, about Clinton’s email server.
“On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer, and assert my Fifth Amendment privilege,” said Combetta, who was reportedly given immunity by the Department of Justice, during its controversial investigation of Clinton and her emails.
A report in the New York Times last week said Combetta was the person who used the tool called “BleachBit” to delete Clinton’s emails, even after they had been subpoenaed by the Congress.
Also taking the Fifth Amendment was another Platte River Networks employee, Bill Thornton.
“Were you interviewed by the FBI?” Thornton was asked by Rep. Chaffetz.
Like Combetta, Thornton refused to answer any questions. Both men were excused from the hearing.
Another witness called for this hearing ignored a subpoena and did not appear, that being Bryan Pagliano, who was given immunity in the investigation, and had taken the Fifth before other panels as well.
Pagliano’s absence aggravated Republicans on the Oversight Committee.
“When you are served a subpoena for the United States Congress, it is not optional,” said Rep. Chaffetz.
With three witnesses refusing to cooperate, that left just one witness to take questions at the House hearing; that was Justin Cooper, who had worked for the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, and who had helped to set up Clinton’s personal server.
“I actually had questions for the guys who aren’t here,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, who went ahead with questions for Cooper.
Cooper was the aide named in a recent FBI report who used a hammer to destroy Secretary Clinton’s old blackberry devices; he told lawmakers that was not an effort to delete any information on those devices.
“I was going out of my way to preserve the information on those devices,” Cooper told lawmakers, as he repeatedly said he transferred all emails and other documents from the old blackberry to the new device.
Cooper said he was never offered immunity by the Justice Department for his testimony in the Clinton investigation.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.