The congressional leader of a key House committee governing the use of technology announced on Thursday that Congress is taking unprecedented action to hold in contempt a computer company that supplied former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with her private email server, which was since found to contain classified information in violation of federal protocol.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, informed reporters that he is moving forward with procedures to hold in contempt Platte River Networks, a security firm that helped maintain Clinton’s private servers.
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Smith announced that he is in possession of emails that show Clinton’s lawyer instructed companies involved with the server to thwart an official investigation by Congress.
Platte River has "obstructed" investigations by Congress and failed to produce critical documents about the server's security vulnerabilities, according to Smith, who accused the firm of stonewalling Congress for months.
Smith and other lawmakers continue to investigate the possible leak of classified information from Clinton’s server, which was found to have security flaws.
Smith’s move to hold the company in contempt would be a first for Congress, which has never exercised this authority on a private company, according to the lawmaker.
"After many weeks, months, we realized we were being stonewalled, we were not being given information," Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill. Platte River "continues to obstruct" the congressional probe into the "possible misuse" of Clinton’s server, he said.
"We do not take issuing a subpoena lightly, nor do we take holding someone in contempt lightly," Smith said. "Platte River continues to refuse to comply at the direction of Secretary Clinton. Regrettably, former Secretary Clinton has interfered with the committee’s investigation."
Two other companies with ties to the server have complied with the investigation.
One senior congressional source familiar with the matter told the Washington Free Beacon that Platte River is hiding "pertinent information that would shed light" on the improper storage of "classified information."
"What are they trying to hide?" the source asked. "Why not comply like the other companies have done? Why continue to try and hide information when we’ve given them opportunity after opportunity, and accommodated the company in all the ways possible. And they’ve continued to try to conceal the information."
"To date, it’s just flat out been no cooperation and obstruction," added a second source. "We know for a fact they have materials in their possession."
Smith petitioned Platte River and other companies involved in maintaining the server in July.
The company informed Congress last month that it would not comply with several requests for information from federal investigators.
Congress has subsequently obtained emails revealing "not just a smoking gun, but who pulled the trigger," according to Smith, who said Clinton appears to be the one ordering these companies to obstruct the congressional investigation.
"The Committee has obtained emails by attorneys representing [the three firms,] DATTO, SECNAP, and Platte River requesting permission from former Secretary Clinton to provide responsive documents," Smith said. "What is it that former Secretary Clinton doesn't want us to see? What is she hiding?"
"David Kendall, the Clintons’ long time private counsel, is coordinating and approving what materials are produced to the Science Committee through the companies’ attorneys," Smith disclosed. "Last month, Kendall sent a letter to the committee that declared certain materials would not be produced."
"We will not limit our investigation or allow these attorneys to dictate the scope of lawfully issued subpoenas," the lawmaker added.
The information could answer key questions about the level of security on Clinton’s server and whether or not foreign governments and independent hackers may have breached it.
The House science committee will move forward to vote on holding Platte River in contempt in the coming weeks. If that vote passes, the measure will go before the full House.
If approved, the case would be passed on to the U.S. attorney general, who would be tasked with compelling the company to provide the documents in question.