Hillary Clinton’s email “scandal” was at the forefront of every Republican’s mind during the 2016 election. As Senator John McCain proved yesterday, many are still hung up on it. Conservatives were all for locking Clinton up for her actions, but what will they have to say when they learn that one of their own is also dealing with an email scandal?
On Thursday, Inside Climate News revealed that up to seven years of emails written by former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been erased. This news initially came from Connie Feinstein, Exxon’s information technology security and consulting manager.
Exxon has acknowledged that emails from Tillerson, written under the alias “Wayne Tracker,” have been deleted. However, the company originally reported that the deleted emails were all written during a period of only three months.
Feinstein said under oath in April that a computer program made it possible for the company to get rid of Tillerson’s Wayne Tracker emails.
The program that Feinstein discussed was set up to automatically erase emails after 13 months, and it was never disabled for the Wayne Tracker email account, despite the fact that, in 2015, Exxon was ordered by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to place a hold on all relevant email accounts. The Wayne Tracker account was not included in this hold since few people even knew it existed.
Schneiderman has received a 301-page transcript of Feinstein’s interview and has used the documents to support his claim that, under Tillerson, Exxon’s climate accounting was a “sham.”
Exxon has repeatedly defended Tillerson’s use of the Wayne Tracker account and claimed that nobody has tried to hide its existence. However, Schneiderman, who has been investigating Exxon for years, has insisted that, until recently, none of his investigators knew about the account, which should have been under the subpoena that was issued in 2015.
After Schneiderman began demanding access to the Wayne Tracker emails, Feinstein explained that over 50 members of Exxon’s IT department spent hundreds of hours over a 17 day period trying to recover them. After trying to identify backup systems, looking through Tillerson’s laptop, iPhone, and iPad, and hiring a forensics data recovery company, the individuals involved in the search finally had to give up. As Feinstein put it,
‘There were many, many questions asked to just determine if we had exhausted every possibility and looked in every location that we could to try to find this data.’
A spokeswoman for Schneiderman has declined to comment on the current scandal. However, David Shapiro, a forensic accountant and former FBI agent, has said that the “implication of fraud is heightened” thanks to the missing emails.
Shapiro also pointed out that the deleted emails look even mores suspicious because of Exxon’s questionable past behaviors regarding disclosing information about climate risks.
‘Who knows what’s been going on in that secret tunnel.’
They might not have to do directly with his duties as Secretary of State, but Tillerson’s missing emails are still a concern. It seems unlikely that Trump is going to ask Russia to help find these ones, though.
Featured image via Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.