Hillary Clinton’s lawyer says her email server data was erased before government scrutiny

Washington : Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal lawyer has told a Senate committee that emails and all other data stored on the Democratic presidential candidate’s computer server were erased before the device was turned over to US government authorities.

In a letter sent last week to Sen Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, attorney David Kendall said the server was transferred to the FBI on August 12 by Platte River Networks, a Denver firm hired by Clinton to oversee the device.

The Senate committee made Kendall’s letter public on Tuesday. In exchanges with reporters earlier this week, Clinton said she was not aware if the data on her server was erased. Federal investigators, prompted by a request from the inspector general for the State Department, requested custody of the server to learn whether the data stored on it was secure.

NBC News has reported that an FBI team is now examining the server. Forensics experts told The Associated Press this week that some emails and other data may still be extracted from servers even after they are supposedly expunged.

Separately, John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, told reporters Tuesday in Columbia, South Carolina that, to his knowledge, no other copy had been made of the server’s contents other than those her lawyers turned over to the FBI.

Kendall, Clinton’s long-time personal lawyer, said in his letter to the committee that both he and another lawyer at his firm were given security clearances by the State Department to handle a thumb drive that contained about 3,000 emails later turned over to the agency. Kendall said the thumb drive was stored in a safe provided in July by the State Department.

Kendall did not say when he was given his clearance from State. The GOP-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Kendall if he had any access to Clinton’s emails before he was given his security clearance.

Republican senators on both committees are pressing to see whether any emails sent or received by Clinton on the private server while she was secretary of state contained any secret information that should have been only exchanged on secured, encrypted government communications portals.

An inspector general for the State Department said recently that several emails sent to Clinton did include such classified material signalling that the transmission of those emails may have risked violating government guidelines for the handling of classified material.