While Hillary Clinton was preparing to deliver a big speech portraying Donald Trump as a racist, a figure from Clinton's recent unhappy past -- Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi -- added a new word to the 25-year vocabulary of Clinton scandals: BleachBit.
That is the name of a publicly-available utility used to delete material from a computer's hard disk. And it's not just for casual, quickie deletes of junk mail. It's for when a user really wants to destroy material on a computer so that no one will be able to recover it.
According to Gowdy, BleachBit is what Clinton and her legal team used, or at least part of what her team used, to destroy the 30,000 or so emails on her secret system that she deemed "personal" from her years as secretary of state. On Thursday, after revelations that the FBI had perhaps worked its way around BleachBit to discover an additional 14,900 emails that Clinton did not hand over, Gowdy went on Fox News to discuss both that development and the FBI documents that underlay the Justice Department's decision not to prosecute Clinton for mishandling classified information.
The public should be allowed to see those currently classified FBI documents, Gowdy said, adding that he has reviewed them all. If people were allowed to read the papers, Gowdy explained, they might well come away with questions about the wisdom of the FBI's decision.
"I read every word of all of the witness interviews," Gowdy told Fox. "My takeaway was this: Remember James Comey said [Clinton] was not indicted because he didn't have sufficient evidence on the issue of intent. I didn't see any questions on the issue of intent."
And then there were those deleted emails. First, it's long been known that Clinton and her lawyers -- and no independent arbiter -- decided what to hand over and what to destroy. Clinton famously explained that she destroyed only the emails that dealt with personal issues, like yoga or her daughter Chelsea's wedding. But in light of new revelations about the close relationship between Clinton's Secretary of State office and the Clinton Foundation, a question gaining urgency in recent days is whether Clinton destroyed foundation-related emails on the grounds that they were "personal."
"That's the $100 million question," Gowdy told Fox's Martha MacCallum. "I hope somebody in your line of work will ask (Clinton): Did you consider foundation emails to be personal or work-related? I have yet to see a single foundation email produced by the State Department that was sent by her."
Gowdy went on to reveal a few details about how Clinton destroyed the documents she did not want anyone to see. "If she considered them to be personal, then she and her lawyers had those emails deleted," Gowdy said. "They didn't just push the delete button. They had them deleted where even G0D can't read them."
"They were using something called BleachBit," Gowdy continued. "You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails or for bridesmaid's emails. When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see."
Amid growing controversy over the Clinton Foundation, possible conflicts of interest, and allegations of access and pay-to-play, Gowdy's words served to return the focus to what the New York Times' Mark Landler recently called the "original sin" of the Clinton email affair: Clinton took it upon herself to decide which of her emails as Secretary of State would be preserved, and which would be destroyed.
"There wasn't an independent authority that got to make that decision," Landler said on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" Wednesday. "And by the time we found out about it, those emails were gone."
With the help of BleachBit, we now know.