The Denver-based IT firm hired by Hillary Clinton to oversee her private server in 2013 “would never have taken it on” had it been able to predict the backlash that would ensue, Platte River Vice President David DeCamillis told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
“We’re normal people. We’re not used to this,” DeCamillis said, referring to the death threats and “phone calls from screaming strangers” his company, Platte River Networks, has received in the last week.
“No one knew,” he added. “It was an email server, that simple.”
Winning the Clinton contract in 2013 was initially perceived as a victory for the company, which until then had mostly served clients in and around Denver.
“We were like your local IT company,” Tera Dadiotis, who worked for the firm from 2007-2010, told the Daily Mail in a story published Tuesday
. “Nothing special or fancy, we had a really good reputation but that was on a local level.”
The company, which had never had a federal contract before being hired by the former secretary of state Clinton,
“is not cleared” to have access to classified material, Cindy McGovern, chief public affairs officer for the Defence Security Service, told The Daily Caller last week. DeCamillis also told The Post that he “did not think any of its employees held formal government-issued security clearances.”
The FBI is currently investigating whether any sensitive information passed through Clinton’s private server while she served as secretary of state — and if any was still stored on the server while it was under Platte River Networks’ oversight.
So far, authorities say they have found more than 60 emails containing classified information, not including two emails discovered by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Charles McCullough III. These allegedly contained information classified as Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, among the government’s highest levels of classification.
Investigators have flagged another 305 emails that may contain sensitive information for intelligence agencies to further review.
Cybersecurity expert Alex McGeorge of Immunity, Inc. believes that ultimately, if classified information was ever mishandled, the onus is on Clinton — not on the IT firm.
“The fact that Platte River is not a cleared contractor is largely irrelevant, [since] they were handling what should have been unclassified email,” he told Business Insider via email last week. “That classified email may have been received by a server under their control is troubling, and they may have been less equipped to deal with it, but it is ultimately not their fault.”
Last week, Platte River’s attorney said the server was “blank” when it was transferred to federal agents, according to The Washington Post.
At a press conference in Nevada on Tuesday, Clinton did not answer Fox News reporter Ed Henry’s question about whether her server had ever been wiped.
“What — like with a cloth or something?” she joked, before saying she didn’t “know how it works digitally at all.”
Two sources close to the investigation told NBC that an attempt was indeed made to wipe Clinton’s server sometime before it was handed over to the FBI (it is unclear when the attempt was made). Federal agents are reportedly confident they can recover at least some of the deleted files.
The FBI “will try to figure what’s there, how it got there and who put it there,” one of the sources said.
Clinton’s unusual email system was originally set up by a staffer during her 2008 presidential campaign, replacing a server used by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
It was stored in her home in Chappaqua in upstate New York until 2013, when she reportedly sent the server to a data center in New Jersey to be wiped of any sensitive information before handing it over to Platte River in Denver, according to The Washington Post.
“I don’t have any information that the server was wiped. Nor do I have any information to suggest it wasn’t,” Andy Boian, the firm’s newly hired public relations manager in the wake of the new scrutiny, told The Post.
“The information I have for sure is that the server itself, when it migrated from Chappaqua to the data center, it was installed at the data center and left alone,” he said.
In March, Clinton turned over approximately 55,000 pages of work-related emails for the State Department to make public after facing criticism for exclusively using a private server during her time as secretary of state. She also deleted about 31,000 emails that she says were personal.
Clinton insists she never broke the law by knowingly mishandling national security secrets, and there is no evidence that she did.
“I’ve been thinking about the fact that I get a lot of attention because I had a personal email account, as did other high-ranking officials in the State Department and elsewhere in the government,” she said Tuesday. “And I had not sent classified material, nor received anything marked classified.
She did not break any State Department rules with the arrangement, but critics have noted it makes public-record keeping more difficult and opens up questions about vulnerabilities to her system.
DeCamillis, for his part, told the Post that Platte River treats “every customer with the same level of technical expertise, security and redundancy,” and does not blame the Clintons for any negative publicity the firm has received.
He is worried about his employees, though.
“They’re good, hard-working people,” he said. “They don’t need all this. They don’t want all this.”
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