Hillary Clinton’s missing emails likely reside on one or multiple servers in different places because she communicated with a number of people using different companies to send and store information, a security expert says.
Mrs. Clinton, through her attorney, David Kendall, has told Congress her technical support staff wiped clean a private server kept at her New York home through which she exclusively conducted business as secretary of state in 2009-13.
He says the cleaning erased some 30,000 emails not turned over to State in response to an investigation by a special House Benghazi committee. She provided 30,490 work-related emails to State, which is releasing them in batches in response to Freedom of Information Act law suits.
Scores of them contain classified information, a disclosure that promoted an ongoing FBI investigation to make a national security damage assessment.
But a wiped-clean server on one end of a thread by no means obliterates all those emails. Mrs. Clinton contends she withheld 30,000 emails because they contained only personal conversations.
While Mrs. Clinton maintained and guarded a personal server under her control, most email users rely on a company’s server that oversees the content.
“Private companies maintain numerous servers, and it is highly likely some of those emails are stored somewhere in the world,” said a retired senior intelligence officer who investigated security breaches. He asked not to be named because he still works in intelligence matters.
If Mrs. Clinton, for example, had a running email conversation with one person who then expanded the thread to a third person, and then a fourth, all those “sendings” and “replies” and “replies all” would travel through multiple servers and may be stored there on tape as backup.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, one of scores of groups filing suit to gain access to the emails, said that copies likely reside today on other servers.
“Mrs. Clinton nor her lawyer has ever said that emails were ‘deleted,’ ” Mr. Fitton said. “Mrs. Clinton said she did not keep them, and Mr. Kendall said they are not on the server.”
Here is how Mr. Kendall described the cleaning in a March 27 letter to the House committee.
“To avoid prolonging a discussion that would be academic, I have confirmed with the secretary’s IT support that no emails from firstname.lastname@example.org for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 reside on the server or on any backup systems associated with the server. Thus, there are no email@example.com emails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State on the server for any review, even if such a review were appropriate or legally authorized”
Mrs. Clinton turned the server over to the FBI last month.
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