Hillary Clinton Used File-Clearing Software BleachBit. Is That Proof of Wrongdoing?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 15, 2016.

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

In an appearance on Fox News to discuss the revelations from the latest Hillary Clinton email findings, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House’s Benghazi committee, revealed that Hillary deleted mails using BleachBit, a file-deleting software program.

Gowdy accused Clinton of using the software to delete emails on her private server because she had something to hide: “They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridemaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

He also said: “She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them.”

So what is BleachBit and who uses it?

It’s an open-source software program similar to CCleaner that many people use to clear unneeded files from their computers to free up space and keep their systems running smoothly.

Lifehacker reviewed BleachBit in 2010, two years after it launched:

BleachBit has a very simple, two-pane interface: one with a list of installed apps and cleanable areas (like caches and temporary files) and one pane to tell you what types of files each option deletes. Just scroll down the list, check which boxes you’d like BleachBit to clean, and hit the Delete button. You can even tell it to overwrite the files to hide what was originally there, if you’re particularly privacy-conscious.

Apart from cleaning a long list of popular apps, it can perform some more advanced tasks too, like clearing the memory and swap partition, delete broken shortcuts, delete languages you don’t use, and some other application-specific functions. Windows users may be underwhelmed, but Linux users will find this a welcome tool for freeing up a bit of space.

In a blog post, BleachBit wrote that so far it had “not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation” of Clinton’s servers. It continued: “BleachBit is free of charge to use in any environment whether it is personal, commercial, educational, or governmental, and the cleaning process is not reversible.”

Even if the process is not reversible, Gowdy might have been overstating it’s efficacy and Clinton’s intentions. Computer security expert Jonathan Zdzairski told CNN that BleachBit is an “amateur” program:

“It looks like the type of tool someone would run who’s conscious of cleaning old crud off their system,” Zdziarski said. “Someone trying to cover their tracks would likely pay for and use a much more expensive, specialized data destruction tool.”