Hillary Clinton’s team of aides and lawyers deleted emails from her private server using a software program intended to “prevent recovery” and hide traces of deleted files.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy revealed the information during an interview on Thursday on Fox News. Citing notes that FBI investigators took during their probe of Clinton’s private email server, Gowdy said that Clinton’s team used open source software called BleachBit to remove tens of thousands of emails from her server.
Gowdy said that the use of the program undermines Clinton’s claims that the emails she withheld from the State Department were innocuous. The former secretary of state has frequently said that the 30,000-plus emails she decided not to give the State Department in Dec. 2014 were about yoga routines and her daughter’s wedding plans.
Heather Samuelson, a longtime Clinton aide and former State Department official, oversaw the review of Clinton’s emails before they were given to the State Department. Clinton lawyer David Kendall and her former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, oversaw the process.
The Clinton team’s use of BleachBit suggests nefarious motives, Gowdy suggested.
“If she considered them to be personal, then she and her lawyers had those emails deleted,” Gowdy said. “They didn’t just push the delete button, they had them deleted so even God couldn’t read them.”
A website advertising BleachBit describes the product.
“Beyond simply deleting files, BleachBit includes advanced features such as shredding files to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to hide traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming Firefox to make it faster,” the website reads.
Clinton has claimed that she gave the State Department all of the work-related emails she had in her possession by late 2014. But it was officially revealed last month that Clinton & Co. likely deleted a significant number of emails.
FBI director James Comey said that investigators had recovered “several thousand” work-related Clinton emails. Earlier this month, it was reported that the FBI recovered 14,900 Clinton records. They have been given to the State Department and will be released beginning in October.
Kendall, Clinton’s lawyer, told Gowdy in a letter last year that none of the emails Clinton declined to turn over to the State Department were recoverable. It is not clear at this point who ran the BleachBit program on Clinton’s server.