The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee announced Thursday he is asking his committee to find Platt River Networks in Contempt of Congress, so he can bring the matter to the whole House.
“We do not take holding someone in contempt lightly,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Texas), a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a former federal prosecutor.
“There is a lengthy process that we go through,” Smith said. “After many weeks, many months, we realized we are being stonewalled.”
The requests for information began in July, he said.
Smith said before Platt River Networks, the committee has never sought to hold someone in contempt.
The Colorado-based company has ignored phone calls, official letters, and subpoenas regarding the committee’s requests for information related to its investigation of Hillary R. Clinton’s handling of classified electronic correspondence and her private email scheme and server that was maintained by Platt River Networks, Smith said.
Smith said he was asking questions relating to the security of the private email system used to conduct her official tasks, which is under the jurisdiction of the committee.
“Platt River continues to obstruct the Science Committee’s investigation into the possible misuse of former secretary of state Clinton’s private email server,” he said. Clinton is the 2016 Democratic nominee for president.
Based on emails and other information it has gathered from other sources, the committee is convinced that the company is acting at the direction of Clinton, he said.
“These emails not only reveal a smoking gun, but who pulled the trigger,” the chairman said.
“Regrettably, former Secretary Clinton has interfered with the committee’s investigation,” he said.
“What is it that former Secretary Clinton does not want us to see?” he asked. “What is it that she is hiding?”
The chairman said the emails obtained by the committee also show that long-time personal attorney for the Clintons, David Kendall, is coordinating the non-release of information and working to thwart the committee’s investigation.
Kendall has even directly challenged the chairman and the committee’s authority to request information, he said. “Last month, Kendall sent a letter to the committee that declared certain materials would not be produced.”
It was a challenge Smith dismissed.
“We will not let our investigation–or let these attorneys–to dictate the scope of lawfully issued subpoenas,” he said.
Smith said that the committee writes three letters before issuing a subpoena, and his decision to ask Congress to hold the company in contempt comes after the company requested a one-week extension Sept. 23, which Smith granted Sept. 28.
The Texan said he expected Platt River to comply, as other companies and individuals have complied in the committee’s investigation.
“Apparently not,” he said. “It took them a whole week to decide to give us a two-sentence response.”
The response from the company’s attorney read:
Dear Chairman Smith,
I am in receipt of your letter dated September 28, 2016. Neither I nor any personnel at Platt River Networks have anything further to add beyond that contained in my correspondence dated September 23, 2016.
Smith said it is clear that Clinton is the one directing Platt River Networks to ignore his subpeonas, but he is targeting the company because they are the ones refusing to comply with his order.
As the committee chairman, Smith said he intends to call a vote in the committee, when Congress returns from its recess for the lame duck session. Afterwards, the Contempt of Congress resolution would have to clear the Rules Committee before it goes to the floor for a vote.
Clinton was trusted to safeguard our nation’s secrets and its secured communications, which has been called into question, he said.
“The committee wants the truth,” he said.
“The people deserve the truth and the Constitution requires us to get the truth.”