Hice Questions Clinton Aide Who Set Up Initial Private Server
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned Justin Cooper, a former aide to President Clinton who set up the initial private server at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home. During the hearing, Paul Combetta and Bill Thornton, Platte River Networks employees who worked as Clinton's IT aides and who used BleachBit to delete thousands of her records and emails after a congressional subpoena was issued, pleaded the Fifth. Bryan Pagliano, a former State Department computer specialist tasked with setting up Clinton's new server, defied a congressional subpoena and failed to appear before the committee.
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Congressman Hice: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to begin by saying what I think is the feeling of many in this committee today– just how shameful it is that so many of our witnesses are no longer here. And frankly, the appearance is that they could care less about our national security and are less concerned about defending our country than they are in either being absent or pleading the Fifth.
As it was brought up earlier, they’re willing to meet with and talk with others, those who had the potential of prosecuting them. Who knows what possible deals have been made in some of those discussions? They refuse to meet with us, and it begs the question “What in the world are they hiding?”
So I want to thank you, Mr. Cooper, for your courage and your willingness to be here with us today and to provide some answers. It means a great deal to us.
Did Secretary Clinton at any time have more than one device?
Mr. Cooper: I don’t recall specifically her having more than one email device, though I have come to learn that at some point, she had some iPad devices that she may have used simultaneously with the Blackberrys.
Congressman Hice: So there’s a possibility she had more than one device at a time?
Mr. Cooper: It’s possible.
Congressman Hice: You have referred to yourself many times as not being an IT expert. At any time, did you consult cybersecurity experts when you were setting up her initial server?
Mr. Cooper: For the initial server, we consulted with Apple and their business solutions program to set up that server. And of course, later, we consulted with Mr. Pagliano for those purposes.
Congressman Hice: Okay, and so did you consult any department or agency in the government at all?
Mr. Cooper: No, no consultations at that time.
Congressman Hice: When you referred earlier to some of the hacks that were taking place with some degree of regularity, did you report those hacks or potential hacks to the FBI, Secret Service, or any other agency?
Mr. Cooper: As I mentioned earlier, when we first experienced some of the repeated failed login attempts, I reported them to the Secret Service.
Congressman Hice: Do you know if anything was done when it was reported? Did they come to investigate or search anything out?
Mr. Cooper: The Secret Service reviewed some of the logs from the server and made some recommendations to Mr. Pagliano about the possible origins of those failed logins and some techniques he might use to mitigate that problem.
Congressman Hice: Did any of the agencies or other cybersecurity experts express any concern over this being a private server or use of private emails?
Mr. Cooper: Not directly to me.
Congressman Hice: So even when they came and did some investigation and some research, that question was never brought up to you.
Mr. Cooper: Correct.
Congressman Hice: How does BleachBit work? Are you familiar with that?
Mr. Cooper: I’m not familiar with it.
Congressman Hice: Well, it seems to me, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Cooper, and everyone in this room and everyone in the country, for that matter, that we know the potential dangers of information getting in the hands of our adversaries. And you’ve related that that possibility exists dramatically.
In fact, Director Comey was right when he said– and I thought he was being very polite when he said– that this is extremely careless what has taken place. And unfortunately, Mr. Cooper, you’re right in the middle of that.
As the Chairman brought up a while ago, we have nations coming after us, and here you are standing up as a defense to try to keep security from being leaked out to professionals and countries, and the words of Director Comey have to be directed to you as well. This has been extremely careless, what has taken place. Your handling of the IT infrastructure, even in the midst of admittedly not being an expert in this field, to me shows absolute disregard for our national security.
Mr. Chairman, I’m grateful for your continued commitment to pursue and try to get to this, and those who refuse to answer our questions and plead the Fifth to protect their own hide– as opposed to protecting our national security– again, is shameful. But I thank you for pursuing this Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
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