July 24, 2014: The manager of Clinton’s server asks for help in a social media forum to remove Clinton’s address from her emails.

A captured shot of Combetta's 'stonetear' GMail account with picture included. (Credit: public domain)

A captured shot of Combetta’s ‘stonetear’ GMail account with picture included. (Credit: public domain)

A Reddit user by the name of “stonetear” makes a Reddit post that will later cause controversy. Overwhelming evidence will emerge that “stonetear” is Paul Combetta, one of two Platte River Networks (PRN) employees actively managing Clinton’s private server at the time. The post reads:

“Hello all — 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 that I have both in a live Exchange mailbox, as well as a PST file. 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?”

July 24, 2014 Reddit post contained this request for advice about “stripping out” the email address of a “VERY VIP” email account. (Credit: Reddit)

This July 24, 2014 Reddit post contained a request for advice about “stripping out” the email address of a “VERY VIP” email account. (Credit: Reddit)

A response captured in the Reddit chat warning Combetta that what he wants to do is illegal. (Credit: Reddit)

A response captured in the Reddit chat warning Combetta that what he wants to do could result in “major legal issues.” (Credit: Reddit)

The post in made in a sub-forum frequented by other people who manage servers. One poster comments: “There is no supported way to do what you’re asking. You can only delete emails after they’re stored in the database. You can’t change them. If there was a feature in Exchange that allowed this, it would result in major legal issues. There may be ways to hack a solution, but I’m not aware of any.”

Despite this warning, “stonetear” replies, “As a .pst file or exported MSG files, this could be done though, yes? The issue is that these emails involve the private email address of someone you’d recognize and we’re trying to replace it with a placeholder as to not expose it.” (Reddit, 9/19/2016)

The post occurs one day after the House Benghazi Committee reached an agreement with the State Department on the production of records relating to Clinton’s communications. It also came one day after Combetta sent some of Clinton’s emails to Clinton’s lawyers so they could begin sorting them.

After Combetta is discovered to have authored the post in September 2016, Fortune Magazine will comment, “it’s not clear if there is anything illegal about the Reddit request. But the optics sure don’t look good, and strongly suggest that Combetta turned to social media for advice about how to tamper with government records that should been preserved.” (Fortune, 9/21/2016)

September 22, 2016: A Congressional committee votes that Pagliano should be held in contempt of Congress.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: public domain)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: public domain)

Bryan Pagliano, who managed Clinton’s server when she was secretary of state, recently was served a subpoena to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But instead of pleading the Fifth, as two others did, he failed to appear altogether. The committee holds another hearing on this day, and he fails to appear again. As a result, the committee immediately votes on party lines, 19 to 15, to recommend that the House of Representatives hold him in contempt of Congress.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the committee, says, “Subpoenas are not optional. Mr. Pagliano is a crucial fact witness in this committee’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to conduct government business.”

After a required two day wait time, the resolution can be voted on by the entire House to be adopted.

Democrats on the committee argue repeatedly that the move is a politically motivated abuse of power meant to influence the November 2016 presidential election.

A letter by Pagliano’s lawyer Mark McDougall to the committee similarly claims that efforts to force Pagliano to testify show a “naked political agenda” with “no valid legislative aim.” McDougall says Pagliano is ready to appear behind closed doors, but will not appear in public. (The Hill, 9/22/2016) (Politico, 9/22/2016)