A Reddit thread allegedly opened by Paul Combetta – computer specialist from Platte River Networks who was granted immunity despite deleting Hillary Clinton’s emails – asked for help in stripping the name of a “very VIP” individual from emails. Some people are now speculating that individual is Hillary Clinton.
Combetta invoked the Fifth Amendment to evade questions from the House Oversight Committee last week, even though he had already been granted immunity from prosecution by the FBI.
The Reddit thread was uncovered by a Twitter user named “Katica,” who described it as a “smoking gun”:
— Katica (@GOPPollAnalyst) September 19, 2016
The key question to resolve is whether the Reddit user who posted under the name “Stonetear” really is Combetta, who became notorious – to careful students of the Clinton email scandal, at any rate – as the Platte River employee who said he had an “oh, s**t” moment upon realizing that her email archives had not been destroyed.
As Conservative Treehouse notes, the connection between Combetta and the Stonetear identity is currently based on a Reddit administrator listing Combetta’s email address as “firstname.lastname@example.org” in an earlier, unrelated post.
It may prove difficult to establish Stonetear’s identity more firmly, since someone is evidently making a vigorous effort to erase all traces of that user from Reddit. Fortunately, the posts have all been preserved in a Pastebin archive, although Breitbart Tech will not link to it here as it contains personal information about Paul Combetta.
A group of Reddit users claimed to have assembled more unambiguous proof that Combetta is Stonetear, but deleted the thread out of concerns they would be accused of “doxxing” Combetta by posting private information about him online.
It is generally wise policy to remember that Internet evidence can be faked or distorted, much more easily than it can be permanently destroyed, so a dose of skepticism is in order. With the understanding that unambiguous proof of his identity is still lacking at the time of this writing, the user named Stonetear wrote a Reddit post in July 2014, asking for help with some email archives:
Hello all- I may be facing a very interesting situation where I need to strip out a VIP’s (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email that I have both in a live Exchange mailbox, as well as a PST file. Basically, they don’t want the VIP’s email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out.
I am not sure if something like this is possible with PowerShell, or exporting all of the emails to MSG and doing find/replaces with a batch processing program of some sort.
Does anyone have experience with something like this, and/or suggestions on how this might be accomplished?
Conservative Treehouse runs through the ensuing Reddit conversation, during which Stonetear explained the emails he was trying to modify included “the private email address of someone you’d recognize, and we’re trying to replace it with a placeholder address [so] as not to expose it.”
Those who believe the Stonetear thread is a smoking gun say that he was never able to find a way to strip out the VIP’s email address, so the next step was to destroy the email archive completely – something Combetta did to Hillary Clinton’s email archives with a program called BleachBit.