Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's tech specialist may have sought advice on how to handle Clinton's emails during a pivotal period in the emails timeline. In 2014, Clinton's former private IT specialist allegedly asked Reddit for help on how to "strip out" the email address of a "Very VIP", in efforts to keep the identity of the user from being exposed to the public.
Reddit users have allegedly uncovered a two-year post, believed to have come from the account of Paul Combetta, Clinton's computer specialist, who was recently granted immunity by the US Justice Department in its investigation into the Clinton private email server controversy.
"I may be facing a very interesting situation where I need to strip out a VIP's (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email," reads the post by a user with the name Stonetear. "Basically, they don't want the VIP's email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out.
"I am not sure if something like this is possible with PowerShell, or exporting all of the emails to MSG and doing find/replaces with a batch processing program of some sort. Does anyone have experience with something like this, and/or suggestions on how this might be accomplished?"
The date of the Reddit post, 24 July 2014, predates that of the first report on Clinton's private email server by the New York Times in March 2015, which led to the public first becoming aware of the controversial issue. The Reddit message's timing also coincided with the controversial Benghazi committee. It was posted the day before the committee had reached an agreement with the State Department, according to the FBI's investigation into the Democratic candidate's use of a private email server. The post as well as Stonetear's Reddit thread have since been deleted but have been archived.
According to a report by the Hill, the House Oversight Committee is also reviewing the post that claims Clinton's IT specialist sought advice on how to hide his "VIP" client's email address, in efforts to keep the identity of the user from being publicly exposed.
"The Reddit post issue and its connection to Paul Combetta is currently being reviewed by OGR staff and evaluations are being made as to the authenticity of the post," said Rep Mark Meadows (R-N C), chairman of the panel's Government Operations subcommittee.
"If it is determined that the request to change email addresses was made by someone so closely aligned with the Secretary's IT operation as Mr Combetta, then it will certainly prompt additional inquiry," Meadows added. "The date of the Reddit post in relationship to the establishment of the Select Committee on Benghazi is also troubling."
According to the FBI's report on the ongoing investigation, in December 2014, Clinton's longtime aide and attorney Cheryl Mills requested Platte River Networks, who was responsible for the administration of Clinton's private server, to change its email retention policy for Clinton to just 60 days. The report also noted that an unnamed Platte River employee, later identified as Combetta, forgot to make the changes until having an "oh, s- -t" moment at the end of March 2015, the New York Times reported.
The Clinton campaign and Combetta are yet to make any official comment on Reddit post as well as their involvement in the issue.