A computer specialist who deleted Hillary Clinton’s emails despite orders from Congress to preserve them was given immunity by the Justice Department during its investigation into her personal email account, according to a law enforcement official and others briefed on the investigation.
Republicans have called for the department to investigate the deletions, but the immunity deal with the specialist, Paul Combetta, makes it unlikely that the request will go far. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the top Republican on the House oversight committee, asked the Justice Department on Tuesday to investigate whether Mrs. Clinton, her lawyers or the specialist obstructed justice when the emails were deleted in March 2015.
Mr. Combetta is one of at least two people who were given immunity by the Justice Department as part of the investigation. The other was Bryan Pagliano, a former campaign staff member for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, who was granted immunity in exchange for answering questions about how he set up a server in Mrs. Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., around the time she became secretary of state in 2009.
The F.B.I. described the deletions by Mr. Combetta in a summary of its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s account that was released last Friday. The documents blacked out the specialist’s name, but the law enforcement official and others familiar with the case identified the employee as Mr. Combetta. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing matters that were supposed to remain confidential.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said that the deletions by the specialist, who worked for a Colorado company called Platte River Networks, had already been “thoroughly examined by the F.B.I. prior to its decision to close out this case.”
“As the F.B.I.’s report notes,” Mr. Fallon said, “neither Hillary Clinton nor her attorneys had knowledge of the Platte River Network employee’s actions. It appears he acted on his own and against guidance given by both Clinton’s and Platte River’s attorneys to retain all data in compliance with a congressional preservation request.”
A lawyer for Mr. Combetta and a spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt