On the surface it looked as if The New York Times was doing its journalistic duty when it first reported that then-Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton had used a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state. Turns out that the paper may have been warning her to cover her tracks, instead.
As reported by The Hill, scores of Clinton’s emails were deleted after the Times published its story March 2, according to notes from the FBI’s investigation into her private server use that were released last week.
While The Hill attempted to portray the deletion as a “mistake,” a reasonable person reading the passage would conclude that the deletion was more likely done on purpose. The FBI note reads as follows:
In a follow-up FBI interview on May 3, 2016, —— Indicated he believed he had an ‘oh s–t’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from PRN server and used BleachBit to delete the exported .PST files he had created on the server system containing Clinton;s e-mails. [sic]
Given the gravity of, and implications for Clinton contained in the Times report, along with the fact that all of Clinton’s emails are supposed to be a matter of public record, having such “moments” because you “mistakenly” deleted those records is totally implausible. You have them as a result of being involved in your boss’ scheme to hide her communications from being revealed in a newspaper.
And speaking of the Times report, given the paper’s historical editorial tilt in favor of Clinton and the Democrats in general, was it truly written in the spirit of keeping a watchful eye on those in power, as the founders envisioned a free press would do?
Was it just a momentary lapse of the Times’ usual ideological defense of Clinton – a one-off story to give the paper the appearance of being unbiased?
Or was it written as a warning to her campaign that they needed to do some technological housekeeping before the campaign ramped up in earnest?
Whatever it was, the Times story prompted Clinton allies to begin vacuuming her email files (the “oh s—t” moment), even to the point of using a program – Bleachbit – to “prevent recovery” of electronic files. So effective at cleaning hard drives of data is Bleachbit, that Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. remarked that “even God can’t read them.”
The story also gave the Clinton campaign a heads-up, allowing aides and likely the candidate herself to decide which of her emails she would eventually make public (though during its investigation the FBI found she had violated the Federal Records Act).
If all this sounds like some wild conspiracy theory, consider this: In the end, FBI Director James Comey himself said he did not believe any “reasonable prosecutor” at the Justice Department would indict her, ostensibly because of a lack of evidence.