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Committee chair asks Justice Department to weigh criminal charges against Platte River Networks CEO
By Byron TauApril 27, 2017 3:01 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The Republican chairman of the House Science Committee has asked the Justice Department to consider criminal charges against the chief executive of a company that managed Hillary Clinton’s private email server for alleged obstruction of a congressional investigation. In a referral to the Justice Department stemming from the long-running controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, Rep. Lamar Smith (R, Texas) alleged that Treve Suazo, chief executive of Platte River Networks, failed to produce documents, made false statements and obstructed a congressional investigation.
“Platte River Networks, a company hired by former Secretary Hillary Clinton, has deliberately withheld requested materials from the Committee and refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “With a new administration in place, I am hopeful that the Department of Justice will appropriately respond to the referral. We cannot allow companies with valuable information to stonewall us in our oversight efforts,”
An attorney for Platte River Networks said it has cooperated with the long-running government investigations into the matter surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s private server and believed that the Justice Department would take no action on the matter.
“Platte River Networks has already fully cooperated with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said Kenneth Eichner, an attorney for the company. “We are confident the Department of Justice has moved on.”
A Justice Department spokesman said, “We have received and are reviewing the letter, but decline further comment.”
The decision on whether to pursue criminal charges now rests with the Justice Department. Because of his role in President Donald Trump’s campaign, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he would recuse himself from matters involving the investigation into Mrs. Clinton, so the matter would rest with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was confirmed Tuesday.
Platte River, a small Denver-based information technology firm, was hired by Mrs. Clinton’s aides to help maintain her email server. Two of the company’s employees invoked their constitutional right not to testify when summoned before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year.
Committee aides said it was the first time that a Science Committee chairman had ever referred a matter for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department. The committee is one of several congressional panels that ran investigations into Mrs. Clinton’s actions—claiming jurisdiction over some of the cybersecurity issues raised by the use of a private email server by a high-level government official.
The discovery of classified material on Mrs. Clinton’s email server sparked a criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations that ended without any charges being filed. FBI Director James Comey said in an unusual public statement that Mrs. Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Still, Mr. Comey testified before Congress that he did not believe Mrs. Clinton had broken the law. Mrs. Clinton has apologized for her actions and maintained that she broke no laws.
Mr. Comey took unusual steps during the Clinton email investigation to update the public. He announced in July that he wasn’t recommending charges against Mrs. Clinton. Then, days before the presidential election last November between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, he told Congress that new evidence had been found, an action sharply criticized by Democrats. The probe was closed again days later, after the evidence turned up little new information.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump and his supporters routinely called for the email probe to be reopened and for Mrs. Clinton to be jailed, but his Justice Department has taken no further action on the case since he took office in January.
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