WASHINGTON (CN) — A congressional committee asked the Justice Department on Thursday to consider criminally prosecuting the technology-services company that maintained a private email server for Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state.
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee believes Colorado-based Platte River Networks and its chief executive, Treve Suazo, withheld documents demanded under subpoena and obstructing the committee’s investigation.
Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, referred the matter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Justice Department declined to comment Thursday morning, but a staffer, speaking on background, explained that a House request does not automatically mean charges will be filed. Instead, the department looks at issues as they arise and then determines whether an investigation or criminal charges are warranted.
The FBI closed its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server last year without recommending criminal charges, but the issue dogged the Democratic presidential hopeful throughout her campaign.
Since then, congressional Republicans have repeatedly sought to revive the case. So far these referrals have not resulted in any criminal charges, and congressional Democrats have dismissed them as being politically motivated.
But Rep. Smith maintains Platte River Networks and its CEO repeatedly refused to comply with demands for documents, and that when they did respond to a subpeona, they said they had no relevant documents to provide.
Platte River Networks began managing the Clinton server in 2013. The company in 2015 provided the server to the FBI, which investigated the potential mishandling of classified information, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
FBI files released last year show that Clinton aide Cheryl Mills had instructed a Platte River engineer in 2014 to delete all emails from the server that were older than 60 days old. But the engineer apparently forgot to delete the files and didn’t realize that until March 2015, weeks after the public revelation of Clinton’s use of a personal email server.
According to the FBI files, the engineer told agents that “he believed he had an ‘oh, (expletive)’ moment,” and deleted the archived emails sometime during the last week of March 2015. The FBI report said the engineer used a program BleachBit to delete the files in ways thought to make them unrecoverable.
FBI Director James Comey has said he had no basis to find that the deletions of Clinton’s emails were aimed at concealing evidence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.