Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Credit: Politico)
Albright gives a speech in front of 800 State Department officials in Washington, DC, that is also broadcast to other department officials in other states and countries. She says, ”I don’t care how skilled you are as a diplomat, how brilliant you may be at meetings, or how creative you are as an administrator, if you are not professional about security, you are a failure.” Her speech comes after some recently reported security breaches in her department, including the disappearance of a laptop containing classified information. She adds, “You may have seen reports indicating that I am furious about these incidents. Well, I am, and I hope you are, too.”
According to the New York Times, US diplomats privately acknowledge that they are sometimes cavalier about security. One unnamed longtime department official says, ”Nobody cares about security within the department.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2000)
In September 2015, Clinton’s future deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will be interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee. She will reveal that when she had an email or other computer problem while working on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, or even earlier working as an aide when Clinton was a senator, Abedin would turn to Justin Cooper for help. “I usually called Justin. He was our go-to guy. He always was, you know, ‘I’m having a problem, can you help me fix it,’ and he always did…” She would also call on Cooper whenever Clinton was having an email problem.
Cooper will also be the person who suggests she get a clintonemail.com email account on Clinton’s private server shortly before Clinton becomes secretary of state, and then sets it up for her. This suggests his involvement managing Clinton’s private server starts early. Cooper is a longtime aide to Bill Clinton, but he apparently never has a government job or security clearance. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015)
According to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), department employees are allowed to send most Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information unencrypted over the Internet only when necessary.
In August 2008, the FAM is amended to further toughen the rules on sending SBU information on non-department-owned systems at non-departmental facilities – such as Clinton’s later use of a private email server. Employees have to:
ensure that SBU information is encrypted
destroy SBU information on their personally owned and managed computers and removable media when the files are no longer required
implement encryption certified by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)
Justin Cooper is an aide to former President Bill Clinton, and he is the administrator for the private server located in the Chappaqua, New York, house where Bill and his wife Hillary live. Cooper will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say that the decision is made to replace the server because the current server (being run on an Apple OS X computer) is antiquated and people using it are having email troubles.
At the recommendation of Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, Cooper contacts Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as an information technology specialist, to build a new server system and to assist Cooper with administrating it. Pagliano was getting rid of the computer equipment from Clinton’s presidential campaign, so it is decided to use some of this equipment for the new server at the Chappaqua house.
According to a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton “told the FBI that at some point she became aware there was a server in the basement of her Chappaqua residence. However, she was unaware of the transition from the Apple server managed by Cooper to another server built by Pagliano and therefore, was not involved in the transition decision.”
Between the fall of 2008 and January 2009, Pagliano gets computer equipment from Clinton’s former presidential campaign headquarters, and also works with Cooper to buy additional necessary equipment.
Clinton becomes secretary of state on January 20, 2009, and begins using a clintonemail.com email address around that time, which is hosted on the old Apple server. The new server won’t be operational until March 2009. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Ernie Milner, division chief for SMART Testing and Implementation, and Kevin Gatlin, division chief for SMART Messaging, in the State Department SMART lab in Newington, VA. (Credit: American Diplomacy / University of North Carolina)
In 2009, the first year Clinton is secretary of state, the State Department begins using the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART), which allows employees to electronically tag emails to preserve a copy for posterity. This allows employees to easily comply with record keeping regulations, instead of having to print out copies of each email.
Although most of the State Department starts using SMART in 2009; the Office of the Secretary elects not to use the SMART system to preserve emails, partly due to concerns that the system would “allow overly broad access to sensitive materials.” (This quote is from an FBI report, but the name of the official who said it is redacted.)
Representatives from the Executive Secretariat (which includes Clinton’s office) ask to be the last to receive the SMART rollout. Ultimately SMART is never used by the Executive Secretariat Office or Clinton for the rest of Clinton’s four-year tenure.
This leaves printing out each email as the only approved method by which the Clinton or her staff in the Office of the Secretary could preserve emails for record keeping. But when Clinton leaves office in February 2013, she won’t even do that.
Remarkably, when Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, the FBI summary will indicate: “Clinton was not aware how other State [Department] staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
SMART will have security and cost overrun problems for the rest of Clinton’s tenure, and beyond.
In a September 2016 Congressional hearing, Justin Cooper will reveal some information about how Clinton’s use of a private email account on her private server begins. He will state: “Secretary Clinton was transitioning from her presidential campaign and Senate role and had been using primarily a BlackBerry for email correspondence. There were limitations to her ability to use that BlackBerry as well as desire to change her email address because a number of people have received her email address over the course of those activities. So we created with a discussion, I believe, with [Clinton aide] Huma Abedin at the time [about] what domains might be of interest. We obtained a domain and we added it to the original server used by President Clinton’s office for [Hillary Clinton] to use with her BlackBerry at the time…”
Note that Cooper registers three domain names on January 13, 2009, so this discussion must have occurred before then.
Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)
Representative Mark Meadows (R) will ask Cooper in the hearing: “So, your testimony here today is that Huma Abedin said that she would prefer to have Ms. Clinton’s email on a private server versus a server that was actually managed by someone else? That’s your testimony?”
Cooper will reply, “My testimony is that that was communicated to me.”
He will also clarify that when it came to talking to Abedin, “I don’t recall conversations with her about the setting up of the server.” But he also will say, “At some point I had a conversation with her about the setting up of an email account for Secretary Clinton on the server.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
However, in Abedin’s April 2016 FBI interview, she will say nothing like this. In fact, she will deny even knowing the server existed until it was mentioned in the media, despite her having an email account hosted on the server for the entire duration of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and at least three email exchanges that show her discussing the server during that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On the day of President Obama’s inauguration, he wins a battle for the right to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. He fought other officials for two months to use the device. However, the New York Times reports, “the privilege of becoming the nation’s first emailing president comes with a specific set of rules.”
Obama using a BlackBerry in New Hampshire, January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)
His spokesperson Robert Gibbs says, “The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends, in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate.”
According to the Times, the rules Obama has to abide by are as follows:
“First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.
Second, anyone placed on the A-list to receive his email address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel’s office.
Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.
Additionally, he has to use a specially made device, which must be approved by national security officials.”
Aides tell the Times, “All of Mr. Obama’s email messages remain subject to the Presidential Records Act, which could ultimately put his words into the public domain, as well as under the threat of subpoenas. That was a caveat that did not dissuade the president.” (New York Times, 01/22/09)
A sample address with the “H” as it appears in an email sent by Clinton. (Credit: public domain)
A September 2016 FBI report will indicate that “some Clinton aides and senior-level State [Department] employees were aware Clinton used a personal email address for State business during her tenure [as secretary of state]. Clinton told the FBI it was common knowledge at State that she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails. However, some State employees interviewed by the FBI explained that emails from Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.”
The report also notes, “The majority of the State employees interviewed by the FBI who were in email contact with Clinton indicated they had no knowledge of the private server in her Chappaqua residence.”
Even Clinton’s closest aides like her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will claim they didn’t know, though there is evidence that suggests otherwise (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
While Clinton is secretary of state, she has an office on the seventh floor of State Department headquarters, in an area often referred to as “Mahogany Row.” Her office and the surrounding area is considered a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Mobile devices such as BlackBerrys are not allowed in SCIF rooms, because they can be taken over by hackers and used to record audio and video.
But according to a September 2016 FBI report, “Interviews of three former DS [Diplomatic Security] agents revealed Clinton stored her personal BlackBerry in a desk drawer in a [Diplomatic Security] post which was located within the SCIF on Mahogany Row. State personnel were not authorized to bring their mobile devices into [the post], as it was located within the SCIF.”
A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)
However, according to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Clinton would leave the SCIF to use her BlackBerry, often visiting the eighth floor balcony to do so. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will later tell the FBI that he never received any complaints about Clinton using her BlackBerry inside the SCIF.
In contrast to the above evidence, in her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim that after her first month as secretary of state, she never brought her BlackBerry into the SCIF area at all, because she had been clearly told not to do that. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton presents a letter of congratulations and signed photo to Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Makin Island on April 1, 2010. (Credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill / US Navy)
A September 2016 FBI report will mention that the FBI determined “hundreds of emails” were sent by Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and other State Department staffers to a member of Bill Clinton’s staff so he could print them out for Clinton. His name will be redacted, but he is almost certainly Oscar Flores, because the report will mention that he is a member of the US Navy Reserves, which Flores is at the time.
Some of these emails will later be determined to contain information classified at the “confidential” level, including six email chains forwarded by Abedin and one email chain forwarded by Clinton.
But the FBI will determine that Flores received a security clearance at the “secret” level on October 25, 2007 from the Defense Department. Furthermore, although Flores retires from the US Navy Reserves in September 2010, there is no indication his security clearance is deactivated at that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton boards the State Department jet while using her BlackBerry, date and location are unknown. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)
This is according to a September 2016 FBI report. The report indicates that Clinton and her immediate staff were repeatedly “notified of foreign travel risks and were warned that digital threats began immediately upon landing in a foreign country, since connection of a mobile device to a local network provides opportunities for foreign adversaries to intercept voice and email transmissions.”
Additionally, the State Department has a Mobile Communications Team responsible for establishing secure mobile voice and data communications for Clinton and her team wherever they travel. But even so, Clinton and her staff frequently use their private and unsecure mobile devices and private email accounts while overseas.
The number of Clinton emails sent or received outside the US will be redacted in the FBI report. Although it will mention that “hundreds” were classified at the “confidential” level, additional details are redacted. Nearly all mentions of “top secret” emails are redacted in the report, so it’s impossible to know if any of those are sent while Clinton is overseas.
The report will mention that some emails between Clinton and President Obama are sent while Clinton is overseas. However, the exact number will be redacted. None of these overseas emails between them will be deemed to contain classified information. According to the report, “Clinton told the FBI that she received no particular guidance as to how she should use President Obama’s email address…”
The details of the FBI’s report on Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview will indicate that Clinton emailed Obama on July 1, 2012 from Russia. However, it is not clear if she sent the email from on the ground or on a plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.
During a trip to the Middle East, Clinton is seen using two Blackberrys while being filmed for a National Geographic documentary called “Inside the State Department” on June 15, 2010. (Credit: National Geographic)
However, in 2016, Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton who helps manage the Clinton private server, will claim otherwise. In an FBI interview, “Cooper stated that he was aware of Clinton using a second mobile phone number. Cooper indicated Clinton usually carried a flip phone along with her BlackBerry because it was more comfortable for communication and Clinton was able to use her BlackBerry while talking on the flip phone.”
However, in Clinton’s 2016 FBI interview, “she did not recall using a flip phone during her tenure [as secretary of state], only during her service in the Senate.” In their FBI interviews, Clinton’s aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills “advised they were unaware of Clinton ever using a cellular phone other than the BlackBerry.”
According to FBI investigators, Clinton has “two known phone numbers… which potentially were used to send emails using Clinton’s clintonemail.com email addresses.” One is associated with her BlackBerry usage. Toll records associated with the other phone number “indicate the number was consistently used for phone calls in 2009 and then used sporadically through the duration of Clinton’s tenure and the years following. Records also showed that no BlackBerry devices were associated with this phone number.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.
A 2009 Blackberry Bold 9700 (left) and a 2013 Blackberry 9720. (Credit: public domain)
However, the FBI will later determine that Clinton actually used in succession 11 email-capable BlackBerrys while secretary of state. She uses two more BlackBerrys with the same phone number after her tenure is over. The FBI will not be able to obtain any of the BlackBerrys to examine them.
The FBI will later identify five iPad devices associated with Clinton which might have been used by Clinton to send emails. The FBI will later obtain three of the iPads. They will only examine two, because one was a gift that Clinton gave away as soon as she purchased it.
Clinton aide Monica Hanley often buys replacement BlackBerrys for Clinton from AT&T stores. Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps run Clinton’s private server, usually sets up the new devices and then syncs them to the server so she can access her email inbox. According to an FBI interview with Clinton aide Huma Abedin, “it was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The FBI will later determine that Clinton uses 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state and two more using the same phone number after she leaves office. In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton stated that when her BlackBerry device malfunctioned, her aides would assist her in obtaining a new BlackBerry, and, after moving to a new device, her old SIM cards were disposed of by her aides.”
Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps manage Clinton’s private server, will later tell the FBI that he “did recall two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”
However, according to Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Monica Hanley, “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Hillary’s signature on the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). (Credit: public domain)
The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) concerns “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI), which is a type of “top secret” classification. In signing the agreement, Clinton acknowledges any “breach” could result in “termination of my access to SCI and removal from a position of special confidence and trust requiring such access as well as the termination of my employment or any other relationships with any department or agency that provides me with access to SCI.” (US Department of State, 11/5/2015)
This is one of two NDAs Clinton signs on this day.
It will later be revealed that out of the over 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in December 2014, three of them were deemed “top secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information.”
Clinton emails former Secretary of State Colin Powelltwo days after she is sworn in as secretary of state, and asks about his use of a BlackBerry while he was secretary of state from January 2001 to January 2005. A full copy of the email will be released on September 7, 2016.
Clinton writes: “I hope to catch up soon [with] you, but I have one pressing question which only you can answer! What were the restrictions on your use of your BlackBerry? Did you use it in your personal office? I’ve been told that the DSS [Diplomatic Security] personnel knew you had one and used it but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it! President Obama has struck a blow for Berry addicts like us. I just have to figure out how to bring along the State Dept. Any and all advice is welcome.”
Powell replies to Clinton, “I didn’t have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”
Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images)
Powell also warns Clinton, “there is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it is government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may beome an official record and subject to the law.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
Powell further writes, “Reading about the President’s BB [BlackBerry] rules this morning, it sounds like it won’t be as useful as it used to be.” Powell is referring to a New York Times article published theday before, regarding Obama winning the fight to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. (New York Times, 01/22/09)
Powell further advises Clinton, “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Clinton emails back the same day, “[I] want to thank you for all the advice about Berries, security, and life on the seventh floor [of State Department headquarters]! I hope we’ll have a chance to visit in person sometime soon.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton [will indicate] to the FBI that she understood Powell’s comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton’s decision to use a private email account on a private server had already been made before this email exchange.
Around February 2009, the NSA refuses to make a BlackBerry for Clinton that’s secure enough to use in SCIF rooms, citing security concerns. (Highly classified materials can only be read in SCIF rooms, and Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF room.)
According to a September 2016 FBI report, at roughly the same time, Clinton’s executive staff also ask about the possibility of Clinton using an iPad to read her emails in her office. But “this request was also denied due to restrictions associated with the Secretary’s office being in a SCIF.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
However, the FBI will fail to mention that the iPad won’t actually be announced by Apple until January 2010, and won’t be released until a couple of months after that, making the above claim impossible. (Apple.com, 1/27/2010)
Clinton will buy an iPad and begin using it a couple of months after it comes out, in July 2010.
In FBI Vault Hillary R. Clinton Part 36 of 36 release, the following email was found confirming her use of an iPad after she was officially told she could not use one.
Clinton talks on a flip phone in Washington, DC on November 14, 2006. (Credit: Karen Bleir / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)
An email sent to or received by Clinton on this day has the subject heading: “Re: New cell.” It won’t be found in the over 30,000 Clinton emails given to the State Department in December 2014. Thus, the details are known because she will be asked about it in her July 2016 FBI interview.
According to a later FBI report, “Clinton stated she was familiar with the phone number ending in [redacted] referenced in the email. She believed the number was that of her BlackBerry because she did not recall using a flip phone during her time at State, only while in the Senate.”
However, in the FBI Clinton email investigation final report, evidence will be mentioned that Clinton actually had two phone numbers. One was for her BlackBerry, which she used just for emails, and one for her flip phone, which she used for phone calls. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive (Credit: Seagate)
When Clinton’s first server is upgraded with a new server in March 2009, a Seagate external hard drive is attached to the server to store back-up copies of all of its data.
Bryan Pagliano, who manages the server at the time, will later tell the FBI that daily changes are backed up onto the hard drive every day, and a complete back-up is made once a week. As space on the hard drive runs out, backups are deleted on a “first in, first out” basis.
This continues until June 2011. That month, Pagliano travels from Washington, DC, where he works in the State Department, and goes to where the server is, in Chappaqua, New York. Pagliano replaces the Seagate external hard drive with a Cisco Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, also to store backups of the server.
The Cisco FS 5500 and 5700 Series Integrated NAS. (Credit: Cisco)
It is unclear what becomes of either back-up device or the data they contained. The FBI’s September 2016 final report on the Clinton email investigation will only mention: “The FBI was unable to forensically determine how frequently the NAS captured backups of the Pagliano Server.” But the report will also complain about the “FBI’s inability to recover all server equipment,” and there will be no mention of any data recovered from either back-up device. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Also in September 2016, Justin Cooper, who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about these hard drives at a Congressional hearing. He will say he only heard about them from reading the FBI final report. (He claims he handled customer service while Pagliano handled the technical aspects.)
He will also be asked if FBI agents ever came to the Clinton’s Chappaqua house to seize any equipment. Cooper worked as an aide to Bill Clinton in the house, but he will say he is unaware of the FBI ever coming to the house. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
Justin Cooper, an aide to former President Bill Clinton, has been working with Bryan Pagliano, who worked as a computer technician on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, to build a new private server located in the Clintons’ Chappaqua, New York, house. Some time in March 2009, Pagliano and Cooper met at the Chappaqua house to physically install the server and related equipment in a server rack in the basement.
Once the new server is up and running, Pagliano migrates the email data from the old server to the new one. Pagliano will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will claim that after the migration, no email content should have remained on the old server. He will tell the FBI that he only transferred clintonemail.com email accounts for Clinton aide Huma Abedin and others (whose names will later be redacted), and he was unaware of and did not transfer an email account for Hillary Clinton.
However, Clinton emails using a clintonemail.com domain address start getting sent in January 2009, showing she must had had an account on the old server since that time. Cooper will also later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say he believed Clinton had a clintonemail.com email account on the old server and Abedin did not. The FBI will be unable to obtain the old server to analyze it, so the dispute has not been fully resolved.
The Dell Power Edge 2900 (Credit: public domain)
This new server will be used for the rest of Clinton’s term as secretary of state, then will be replaced in 2013. Later in March 2009, the old server is repurposed to serve as a personal computer for household staff at Clinton’s Chappaqua house. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The Washington Post will later report, “The server was nothing remarkable, the kind of system often used by small businesses, according to people familiar with its configuration at the end of her tenure. It consisted of two off-the-shelf server computers. Both were equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. A firewall was used as protection against hackers.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
According to the FBI, the new server initially consists of the following equipment: “a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server miming Microsoft Exchange for email hosting and management, a Dell PowerEdge 1950 server miming BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for the management of BlackBerry devices, a Seagate external hard drive to store backups of the Dell PowerEdge 2900 server, a Dell switch, a Cisco firewall, and a power supply.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Bryan Pagliano (left), Justin Cooper (right) (Credit: public domain)
In March 2009, Clinton’s private email server is replaced by a larger one built by her computer technician Pagliano. Cooper had been the only person with administrative access for the previous server, but now both him and Pagliano have administrative accounts on the new one.
Pagliano handles all software upgrades and general maintenance. He works at the State Department in Washington, DC, and there is only evidence of him going to Chappaqua, New York, to directy work on the server three times: in March 2009, to install the server; in June 2011, to upgrade the equipment; and in January 2012, to fix a hardware issue.
By contrast, in a later FBI interview, Cooper will describe his role as “the customer service face.” He can add users or reset passwords on the email server. He also works at the Chappaqua house as an aide to former President Bill Clinton, so it is much easier for him to physically interact with the server there.
Cooper and Pagliano both handle the selection and purchase of server-related items.
In a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton will state “she had no knowledge of the hardware, software, or security protocols used to construct and operate the servers. When she experienced technical issues with her email account she contacted Cooper for assistance in resolving those issues.”
The roles of Cooper and Pagliano will be phased out in mid-2013, with the Platte River Networks company winning a contact to manage Clinton’s server on May 31, 2013.
When Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano is interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will recall a conversation with a person whose name is redacted that takes place at the beginning of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. According to the FBI, this person “advised he would not be surprised if classified information was being transmitted to Clinton’s personal server.”
Pagliano joins the State Department in May 2009, and he also is the main person to manage problems with the server. But there is no mention of him taking any action about this warning or passing it on to anyone else. The unnamed person also gives Pagliano advice on how to improve the server security that goes unheeded as well. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
An email entitled “Message from the Secretary on FOIA” goes out in Clinton’s name to the entire State Department. In it, she encourages full cooperation responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. “As a Department, we should respond to requests in a timely manner, resolve doubts in favor of openness, and not withhold information based on speculative or abstract fears. Preserving the record of our deliberations, decisions, and actions will be at the foundation of our efforts to promote openness.” (US Department of State, 6/18/2015)
Ironically, Clinton will not turn over any work-related emails (which are official records) when she leaves the department in February 2013, and FOIA requests for any of her emails will be ignored until the controversy over her use a private server becomes front-page news in March 2015.
Chris Cillizza (Credit: Institute of Politics and Public Service)
Clinton writes in an email: “Dear Lauren [Jiloty] and Huma [Abedin], I have just realized I have no idea how my papers are treated at State. Who manages both my personal and official files? […] Are there personal files as well as official ones set up? […] I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want.”
In June 2016, Chris Cillizza will write in the Washington Post: “[T]his email to Abedin—which came at the start of her four-year term in office—suggests a bit more active agency than Clinton has previously let on. ‘I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want,’ doesn’t strike me as Clinton simply wanting convenience and following the instructions of her IT people on how to make that happen. It reads to me as though Clinton is both far more aware of the email setup and far more engaged in how it should look than she generally lets on publicly.” (The Washington Post, 6/28/2016)
In her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will be asked about this email. According to the FBI, “Clinton stated this email pertained to how her ‘files’ were going to be treated at [the] State [Department]. Clinton relayed while in the Senate, she maintained a personal and official paper file. This process was not implemented through Senate procedure or guidance but through Clinton’s own personal process. Clinton was not aware how other State staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A State Department official (whose name is later redacted) sends an email to Clinton. The unnamed official had been sponsored by Clinton for a security position but had failed the security tests, and so he directly appeals to her for assistance.
Clinton forwards the email to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and asks them, “Could you follow up on this?”
It is unknown what becomes of the official’s request. However, Mills then complains in an email just to Abedin, “Personally, I think this is outrageous that staff go straight to her on this stuff.”
Abedin replies to Mills, “This is unbelievable. And she also should not be giving her email to everyone [because] she will get stuff like this.”
Mills then responds back, “She’s not giving her email to new people. People who emailed her old Senate address are still being forwarded to her new address. Most of her Senate staff had access to that address. Justin [Cooper] can fix it but I need her berry [BlackBerry] and she takes that thing to every toilet, to the shower, so [it’s] hard to get my hands on that thing…” (US Department of State, 6/9/2016)
Clinton arrives for the start of the first plenary session of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 18, 2009. (Credit: Kevin Coombs / Reuters)
Clinton’s deputy secretary of state Huma Abedin is attending a conference in the country of Trinidad and Tobago. State Department aide Melissa J. Lan, who is also at the conference, emails her to borrow Clinton’s day book binder, a presumably sensitive document containing Clinton’s daily schedule.
Douglas Band sends an email with the subject heading “A favor” to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. At the time, Band is both working for the Clinton Foundation and serving as a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton. Band writes that it was “important to take care of” – but the name of the person and several following lines of text are later redacted.
The April 22, 2009 email from Doug Band to Huma Abedin and her response. (Credit: public domain)
Abedin responds, “We have all had him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options.” The person may somehow be related to Clinton Foundation work being done in Haiti, because Band’s email includes a forward of an email from a person whose name is redacted, but who had just returned from a trip to Haiti involving charity work.
Gilbert Chagoury, Chairman of The Chagoury Group (left), Bill Clinton (center) and Ronald Chagoury, Chief Executive Officer (right) attend the Eko Atlantic City Dedication Ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on February 21st, 2012. (Credit: public domain)
Douglas Band sends an email to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. At the time, Band is both working for the Clinton Foundation and serving as a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton. Band asks for the State Department’s “substance person” in Lebanon to contact Gilbert Chagoury. “As you know, he’s key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp [important].”
Abedin responds that the “substance person” Is “Jeff Feltman,” a former US ambassador to Lebanon. “I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to Jeff.”
Fifteen minutes later, Band sends another email to Abedin, writing, “Better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important.” After some redacted text, he adds, “He’s awake I’m sure.”
(US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
CBS News will late call Chagoury “a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire philanthropist who was one of the Clinton Foundation’s top donors.” He gave between $1 and $5 million to the foundation. In addition, he pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. He was convicted in 2000 in Switzerland for money laundering, but agreed to a plea deal and repaid $66 million.
In August 2016, a spokesperson for Chagoury will claim that Chagoury had been seeking to contact someone in the State Department to offer his perspective on the coming elections in Lebanon, and had not been seeking official action by the State Department. (Politico, 8/11/2016)
In August 2016, the New York Times will publish an article based on a claim by former Salon reporter Joe Conason about an incident that occurred at a dinner party in June 2009, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Conason will have recently interviewed Hillary Clinton for a book he is writing about Bill Clinton, and he may have heard about the incident through her.
From left to right, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center on September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images)
The party is hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and several other former secretary of states are also in attendance: Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, and William Christopher.
Conason will claim that, “Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat [Clinton]. Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, he thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.” (New York Times, 08/18/16)
Clinton will also tell a similar story in her July 2016 FBI interview. NBC News journalist Andrea Mitchell will report, “Clinton told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended on two occasions that she use a private email account for unclassified communication.”
Drawing from Conason’s original report, Mitchell will write, “Powell made the suggestions at a small dinner party shortly after Clinton took over at the State Department in 2009 and in an email exchange around the same time.” Two sources later confirm to NBC News that Clinton gave that account to investigators during her FBI interview. (NBC News, 08/19/2016)
In a January 2009 email, Powell warned her that should that become “public,” her emails would become “official record[s] and subject to the law.” “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
However, Powell will later claim he doesn’t recall Albright even asking that question, but he does remember an email exchange with Clinton on January 23, 2009. Conason appears to be confusing the email with the dinner party.
Colin Powell’s emails will be hacked and released to the public September 13, 2016. The email leak will include an exchange between Powell and Rice on August 28, 2016. Powell will write, “I was [with] Maddy [Madeline Albright] the other evening and she doesn’t remember an email conversation or even asking us a question recently.”
Rice will write back, ” Yes — I’m sure it never came up.”
Thus, the alleged Albright question at her party, and Powell’s reply, may never have happened at all. Though Clinton will say it did, Albright, Rice, and Powell will say it did not.
Palau is a single island with a population of only 20,000. The lobbyist, Jeffrey Farrow, had worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. But it’s not known how he got her new email address, which she started using after becoming secretary of state in January 2009.
Farrow begins emailing Clinton in June 2009, at a time when the US is deciding how much financial aid to give Palau, and while Palau becomes the first country to accept prisoners from the US military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Farrow talks about how Palau is going to take 17 Guantanamo prisoners and then suggests that US aid to the country is “far too low.” Clinton forwards the emails to her aide Jake Sullivan and asks him to “do some recon outreach and advise what, if anything, we should do.”
In an October 30, 2009 email, Farrow again asks for more US aid to Palau. Clinton forwards that email to Sullivan and other aides with the note, “As I have said repeatedly, I do not want to see Palau shortchanged.” In September 2010, the US announces a large multi-year aid package to Palau worth over $250 million. (Politico, 7/1/2015)
Clinton confidant and private citizen Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject heading, “My role, Germany, Iran, etc.” He writes: “I spoke with Doug Band yesterday, discussed things with him, and we will go from there. It would be helpful if you and I speak soon to define parameters of what projects I should pursue. We should discuss your speech to the Council, among other things.”
In May 2015, Clinton will downplay the link between herself and Blumenthal when she was secretary of state, saying, “He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances.” Blumenthal is paid a $120,000 yearly salary by the Clinton Foundation despite not doing any charity work there, but Clinton will deny that is compensation for his emailed intelligence reports. (Real Clear Politics, 5/20/2015)
Clinton attends a meeting with New York Stock Exchange president Duncan Niederauer and various business leaders on September 21, 2009. (Credit: public domain)
In June 2016, the Associated Press will finally gain access to some planning schedules from when Clinton was secretary of state. A comparison of these planning schedules with Clinton’s official calendar from that time will show that at least 60 meetings with Clinton’s donors and other outside interests were omitted. The Associated Press will give one specific example of a meeting on this day that is omitted from the calendar, even though the names of attendees to other meetings on the same day are not. Clinton meets with 13 major business leaders for a private breakfast discussion at the New York Stock Exchange:
David M. Cote, CEO of Honeywell International Inc.;
Fabrizio Freda, CEO of the Estee Companies Inc.;
Lewis Frankfort, chair of Coach Inc.;
Robert Kelly, CEO of the New York Bank of Mellon;
Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont;
Harold McGraw III, chair of McGraw Hill Companies;
Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange;
Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo;
Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Corp;
Steven Schwarzman, chair of the Blackstone Group;
James Taiclet, chair of the American Tower Corp.;
James Tisch, president of Loews Corp.; and
John D. Wren, CEO of Omnicom Group.
All the companies represented except Coach Inc. lobby the US government in 2009. Four companies—Blackstone, Honeywell, Omnicom, and DuPont—lobby the State Department that year. All the companies except for American Tower and New York Bank of Mellon donate to the Clinton Foundation, and two attendees—Schwarzman and Frankfort—personally donate to the foundation. Four of the companies—PepsiCo, the Blackstone Group, DuPont, and Honeywell International Inc.—also donate to what the Associated Press calls “Clinton’s pet diplomatic project of that period,” the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. (The Associated Press, 6/24/2016)
It will remain publicly unknown until the video is leaked to Fox News in October 2016.
A photo capture of Clinton as she appears in the 2010 cybersecurity video. (Credit: Fox News)
In the video, Clinton says that employees have a “special duty” to recognize the importance of cybersecurity. “The real key to cybersecurity rests with you. Complying with department computing policies and being alert to potential threats will help protect all of us.”
According to a later account by Fox News, “Clinton goes on in the video to underscore the important work the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IT department were doing to guard against cyber-attacks. She warns hackers try to ‘exploit’ vulnerabilities and penetrate department systems. She then urges staffers to log onto the internal cybersecurity awareness website or subscribe to their ‘cybersecurity awareness newsletter.’”
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will later find the video ironic, given Clinton’s own security issues with her private email server. He will say, “Hillary Clinton needs only to look into the mirror to find the biggest cybersecurity risk.”
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will say, “This is not new. It has been widely reported that during Clinton’s tenure the State Department issued these kinds of warnings about possible cybersecurity to employees. These warnings were more than appropriate given that it was subsequently confirmed that State’s email was hacked.” (Fox News, 10/22/2016)
According to a September 2016 FBI report, Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who is helping to manage Clinton’s private server, contacts a Secret Service agent at some point during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is not clear when this happens, but apparently it is not long after the server begins to be frequently targeted by brute force hacking attacks around the middle of 2010.
Cooper will be asked about this in a September 2016 Congressional hearing shortly after the FBI report is published. He will say, “when we first experienced some of the repeated failed login attempts, I reported them to the Secret Service. … There was an instance where we shared some logs with [them]. … The Secret Service looked at logs from the server and made some recommendations to [server manager Bryan] Pagliano about the possible origins of those failed logins and some techniques he might use to mitigate that problem.” (The Secret Service agent will give advice on improving the server’s security that will not be followed.)
However, when Cooper is asked by Representative Blake Farenthold (R), “Did you turn over the logs and notifications that you received to the FBI, the emails of brute force attacks?” Cooper will say the FBI was not contacted.
Representative Jody Hice (Credit: Twitter)
Additionally, when Representative Jody Hice (R) will ask if Cooper consulted with any other “department or agency in the government,” Cooper will say, “No. No consultations of that type.” He will also specifically mention the State Department wasn’t consulted. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
It’s possible that Pagliano contacted others, but the FBI will interview both Cooper and Pagliano in its investigation and then will mention only the contact with the Secret Service in its final report.
Blake Farenthold (Credit: Bill Clark / Congressional Quarterly)
Bryan Pagliano, the manager of Clinton’s private server while she is secretary of state, will be interviewed by the FBI in December 2015. According to an FBI report, he will claim that the server suffered no known security breaches. However, “he was aware there were many failed login attempts, which he referred to as brute force attacks. He added that the failed attempts increased over the life of the [server], and he set up the server’s logs to alert [Justin] Cooper when they occurred. Pagliano knew the attempts were potential attackers because the credentials attempting to log in did not match legitimate users on the system. Pagliano could not recall if a high volume of failed login attempts emanated from any specific country.”
The FBI report will explain, “A brute force attack is a trial-and-error method used to obtain information, such as a password… In a brute force attack, passwords may be attempted manually or automated software can be used to generate a large number of consecutive guesses as to the targeted information.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about brute force attacks in a September 2016 Congressional hearing. He will respond, “I can’t say with any specificity how many had happened. They happened with some limited frequency over the period of, I’d say the last two and a half years, while she was in office. But we had developed systems to tamper these down.”
Representative Blake Farenthold (R) will ask Cooper that if the brute force attacker managed to enter the correct user name and password, “you wouldn’t have been notified, would you? You would have thought it was Mrs. Clinton or some legitimate user actually getting in?”
After further questioning, Cooper will admit that he only looked at failed attempts and didn’t check for related successful log-ins. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
After Bryan Pagliano sets up Clinton’s new private server in January 2009, he sets up Internet Protocol (IP) filtering on the firewall, once a firewall is established in late March 2009. Pagliano will later tell the FBI that he tried to review the firewall log files once a month.
The US Secret Service Badge (Credit: public domain)
At some point, Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who is helping Pagliano manage the server, puts Pagliano in contact with a US Secret Service agent. The timing of this is not clear. However, in a September 2016 Congresssional hearing, Cooper will say it happened after Clinton’s server started to get frequent “brute force” hacking attacks, and that begins around the middle of 2010.
This agent recommends that Pagliano should also perform outbound filtering of email traffic. According to a September 2016 FBI report, “Pagliano further considered, but ultimately did not implement, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or two-factor authentication to better secure administrative access to the server system by him and Cooper.”
The FBI report will explain: “‘VPN’ is a private network that runs on top of a larger network to provide access to shared network resources, which may or may not include the physical hard drives of individual computers… VPN offers an additional layer of security by encrypting the data traveling to the private network before sending it over the Internet. Data is then decrypted when it reaches the private network. … ‘Two-factor authentication’ is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components…” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016) (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
Clinton speaks in New York, while then Congressperson Anthony Weiner looks on in 2000. (Credit: Reuters)
Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, writes to Clinton in an email, “OK I will [redacted] just FedEx secure cell phone from [Washington] DC. Anthony leaving office to bring me to airport now so hopefully will make it just in time.”
Four hours later, Clinton responds, “Maybe one of Anthony’s trusted staff could deliver secure phone?”
“Anthony” is a reference to Anthony Weiner, who is both Abedin’s husband and a member of Congress at the time. He will resign one year later, due to a sex scandal.
The Associated Press will later comment, “The emails show the degree of trust Clinton had for Weiner before he was hit by scandal.”
It is unclear where Clinton is on this day. State Department schedules list no public events for her between July 27, 2010 and August 2, 2010. But the Associated Press will also note, “The use of secure cell phones is commonplace among State Department staff when traveling to countries with advanced cyber-espionage capacities, such as China or Russia.”
These emails will be released in November 2016. They were not part of the 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over in December 2014, even though they are clearly work-related. It will be one of thousands of emails deleted by Clinton that were later recovered by the FBI.
After the release, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner will say it is unclear how the phone might have been delivered, or if it was at all. He will suggest that, in theory, sending a secure phone through FedEx could have been appropriate if the necessary safeguards were taken. “In 2010, secure cell phones were available to State Department employees, and they could be configured in such a way as to render them suitable for transport. When configured in this manner, the device would be inoperable until paired with additional components.” (The Associated Press, 11/3/2016)
Matt Lussenhop, a press officer at the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, sends an email to over a dozen other US officials. The email is sent to Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, who emails it to Clinton. Lussenhop’s email concerns an article that New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins is about to get published. Filkins contacted the embassy in Kabul to get quotes for his story, which alleges that Muhammed Zia Salehi, an aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is on the payroll of the CIA. The email is two paragraphs long, but the first paragraph will later be completely redacted and deemed classified at the “secret” level, the level below “top secret.” (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be asked about this email. According to the FBI, “Clinton stated she did not remember the email specifically. [She] stated she was not concerned the displayed email contained classified information [redacted] but stated she had no reason to doubt the judgment of the people working for her on the ‘front lines.'” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Salehi was arrested by Afghan police in July 2010, one month before the Times article about him, due to a US government wiretap on him as part of an anti-corruption case. But he was released the next day on the orders of Karzai. In 2013, Foreign Policy will confirm that not only was Salehi working for the CIA, but he actually was an intermediary who was giving secret CIA cash payments to Karzai. (Foreign Policy, 5/4/2013)
Given that this is one of a small number of emails Clinton will be asked about in her FBI interview, as well its classification at the “secret” level, it stands to reason that Lussenhop confirmed Salehi’s CIA connection.
An email sent or received by Clinton on this day has the subject title ‘‘MbZ call – 7:15am.” Very little is publicly known about its content, such as who sends or receives it, because it will not be included in the over 30,000 work-related emails Clinton will give to the State Department in December 2014. But the FBI will recover the email through other means and ask Clinton about it in her July 2016 FBI interview.
Clinton gestures as she delivers a statement about WikiLeaks on November 29, 2010. (Credit: Yuri Gripas / Reuters)
According to the FBI summary of that interview, “Clinton stated she recalled the time period of the WikiLeaks disclosures because it was a difficult time for State. She spent long hours on the phone with foreign diplomats addressing the WikiLeaks disclosures and ensuring no one was in danger as a result of the disclosures. Regarding the specific email, Clinton did not know why it was not in the approximately 30,000 emails produced to [the] State [Department] and, based on its content, would expect it to be considered work-related.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
From Clinton’s comments, it can be surmised the email deals with the disclosure of 250,000 State Department cables by WikiLeaks, which actually takes place two days later, on November 28, 2010.
Ironically, Clinton makes a public speech on November 29, 2010, that contradict her private reassurances to foreign diplomats that no one was endangered by the leaks. She says, “The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems… So whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others.” (US Department of State, 11/29/2010)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2011, and involves two “top secret” emails. The first is sent by Clinton to her aide Jake Sullivan, and the second is Sullivan’s reply. The content of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2011, and involves seven “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email from Clinton’s aide Jake Sullivan to Clinton. It goes back and forth, with three emails from Clinton to Sullivan, and three more emails from Sullivan to Clinton. The content of the emails remains unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2011, and involves two “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email written by an unnamed State Department official. It makes its way to Sullivan, who forwards it to Clinton. Clinton then sends a reply to Sullivan. The contents of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2011, and involves five “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email from Clinton’s aide Jake Sullivan to Clinton. The chain goes back and forth, with two emails from Clinton to Sullivan, and two more emails from Sullivan to Clinton. The contents of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2011, and involves two “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email written by an unnamed State Department official. It makes its way to Sullivan, who forwards it to Clinton. There is no known reply from Clinton. The contents of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (Credit: Reuters)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2012, and involves two “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email written by an unnamed State Department official to other unnamed department officials. It makes its way to Sullivan, who forwards it to Clinton, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Clinton then replies to Sullivan. Then there’s another back and forth between Clinton and Sullivan. The contents of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
In July 2016, the State Department will reveal some limited details about 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. One email chain is sent sometime in 2012, and involves two “top secret” emails. The chain begins with an email written by an unnamed State Department official. It makes its way to Sullivan, who forwards it to Clinton and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills. There is no known reply from Clinton. The content of the emails remain unknown. (Vice News, 7/22/2016)
Eric Holder, the US attorney general from 2009 until 2015, writes a memo during the 2012 US presidential race outlining Justice Department policy on how to avoid interfering in elections. It states that department employees (which includes the FBI) “must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.” If an employee is “faced with a question regarding the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election,” that person should contact the department’s public integrity section “for further guidance.”
There is an email chain this day started by Clinton, with all emails in it between Clinton, Justin Cooper, Bryan Pagliano, and Oscar Flores. Cooper (a Bill Clinton aide) and Pagliano (a State Department official) are jointly managing Clinton’s private server, with Cooper doing more of the customer service and Pagliano more of the technical aspects. Flores helps manage Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York, where the server is located.
Clinton begins the email chain with the subject heading “Help!” She writes: “Once again, I’m having BB [BlackBerry] trouble. I am not receiving emails although people are getting ones I send but I get their replies on my IP [iPad]. I’ve taken out the battery and done what I know to do but with no luck yet any ideas?”
Cooper sends two replies trying to solve the problem, with Clinton giving a short reply to one of them.
Hillary Clinton (Credit: Robert Shiro / The Associated Press) and Bryan Pagliano (Credit: Fox News)
Then Pagliano writes, “Let me take a look at the server to see if it offers any insight. iPhone is not much different from iPad, however in both cases the security landscape is different from the BlackBerry. -Bryan”
None of these five emails will be included in the 30,000 work-related emails Clinton gives the State Department in December 2014, even though the inclusion of Pagliano, a department official, in the chain makes them work-related. (One email that will be included is simply Pagliano wishing Clinton a happy birthday in 2012.) Instead, one of the emails in the chain will be later recovered by the FBI from Clinton’s deleted emails (with the text of the other four emails included in the reply).
These emails will be released to Judicial Watch on October 12, 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, and Judicial Watch will make them public on October 19, 2016. (US Department of State, 10/12/2016)
Ironically, in the same time frame, on October 13, 2016, Clinton’s written responses to a court deposition will be made public. In one answer, she will write: “Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall having communications with Bryan Pagliano concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any emails in her clintonemail.com email account.” (Judicial Watch, 10/13/2016)
All of the emails between Clinton and Pagliano many never be found, since the FBI could only recover about half of Clinton’s deleted emails, and the file containing all of Pagliano’s emails from his time working at the State Department was mysteriously lost.
This is notable because a September 2016 FBI report will reveal that Clinton regularly used her unsecure BlackBerry while outside the US, including sending and/or receiving “hundreds” of emails containing classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Furthermore, in August 2010, it was reported that Research in Motion (RIM), the company that makes BlackBerrys, agreed to locate three computer servers within Saudi Arabia, “putting them under the jurisdiction of local security forces,” according to an article at the time by the Register.
Headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) located in Waterloo, Ontario (Credit: public domain)
The effective result is that the Saudi government was able to intercept emails that have to briefly pass through the servers. RIM did not want to agree to this, but the Saudi government briefly suspended BlackBerry service until RIM gave in. Even emails sent through Saudi Arabia using personal encryption keys could be easily intercepted due to this agreement. (The Register, 8/9/2010)
Clinton is sent emails virtually every day, and her days in Saudi Arabia are no exceptions. One email classified at the “confidential” level is sent to Clinton on March 31, 2012, though it’s not clear if she is in Saudi Arabia at the time or not. The email concerns politics in Sudan and South Sudan. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)
Cheryl D. Mills speaks during a commitment workshop titled “Haiti: Lessons for the Future” at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting on September 24, 2012. The CGI logo is in the background. (Credit: Reuters)
On June 19, 2012, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills travels from Washington, DC, to New York City. The next day, she interviews two high-level business executives in order to help the Clinton Foundation find a new leader.
When Clinton became secretary of state, she and the Clinton Foundation agreed to abide by rules specially created in an agreement with the Obama administration not to “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”
When news of this trip is made public in August 2016, Clinton’s campaign will claim that any work Mills did for the Clinton Foundation, such as this trip, was strictly voluntary.
The two executives interviewed by Mills had worked at Pfizer and WalMart, companies that CNN points out “have been huge donors to Foundation, and have worked with the Clinton Global Initiative.” However, neither of them get the job. (CNN, 8/11/2016)
Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal (Credit: Zumey Press and Evangelical Press Association)
Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject heading: “H: Here it is: latest, latest intell on MB/SCAF inside deal. Sid.” “MB” stands for the “Muslim Brotherhood,” who recently took power in Egypt, and “SCAF” stands for the “Supreme Council of the Armed Forces” of Egypt. The email alleges to contain inside intelligence about political intrigues in that country.
Clinton forwards the email to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment: “Fyi [For your information]. Worth forwarding.”
Sullivan replies, “Will do. Wonder who his source is.”
The FBI will ask her about this in a July 2016 interview. The State Department later marked the email unclassified and left it entirely unredacted. But presumably the FBI is interested in her “Former US intell w continuing contacts” comment, which indicates she knows Blumenthal’s emails are mainly based on intelligence from former CIA official Tyler Drumheller, and she might have some knowledge of Drumheller’s contacts.
But Clinton’s answer doesn’t appear to address that. According to the FBI, “Clinton commented it was a confusing time in Egypt and [the] State [Department] was trying to obtain all of the intelligence it could on Egypt. However, she had no concerns regarding the classification of the email.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 29, 2012. (State Department)
It has been reported that Clinton and President Obama exchanged 18 emails in the four years of Clinton’s secretary of state tenure. However, very few details have been released about any of them, except for this one. This email is an exception because when Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, she will be asked about the email, apparently since it was sent from Russia. A September 2016 FBI report will mention it is sent on July 1, 2012 and that the subject line is: “Fw: Congratulations!”
Additionally, an FBI summary of her interview will mention, “Clinton stated she received no particular guidance as to how she should use the president’s email address [redacted]. Since the foregoing email was sent from Russia, Clinton stated she must have sent it from the plane.”
Elsewhere in the FBI report, it will be mentioned that the FBI was unable to determine whenever Clinton sent emails overseas while on the ground or in an airplane because the State Department didn’t give the FBI detailed enough information about her travel schedule. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will be asked about this email in an April 2016 FBI interview, though it will be described as “an email chain dated June 28, 2012, with the subject ‘Re: Congratulations!'” According to the FBI summary, “Abedin did not recognize the name of the sender. Once informed that the sender’s name is believed to be a pseudonym used by [President Obama], Abedin exclaimed ‘How is this not classified?’ Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email. Abedin provided that she did not go on the trip to St. Petersburg [Russia] and noted that security protocols in St. Petersburg were not necessarily the same as they were in Moscow, where they were not allowed use to their BlackBerrys.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
Based on Abedin’s comments, it appears probable that Clinton sends an email in the chain with her BlackBerry from St. Petersburg, Russia, though it is unclear if she is on an airplane at the time or not, or if the plane is flying on on the ground.
Accordng to some basic details that will be revealed about the Clinton-Obama emails in September 2016, it appears Obama emails Clinton on June 28, 2012, then Clinton replies to him on June 28, 2012, which coincides with her time in St. Petersburg, on June 28 and 29, 2012. Then her aide Monica Hanley sends an email to Obama on July 1, 2012. It is not clear why this Hanley email will later be included in a list of Obama-Clinton emails or why the FBI wil refer to a July 1, 2012 email in Clinton’s FBI interview instead of the June 28, 2012 Clinton email mentioned in the Abedin FBI interview. (Vice News, 09/15/16) (Vicc News, 09/15/16)
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (Credit: Lintao Zhang / The Associated Press)
Clinton is sent an email by State Department official Monica Hanley regarding a phone call to United Nations/Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan. The email is a call sheet to help Clinton with her talking points while speaking to Annan. The first paragraph starts with the text: “(C) Purpose of Call.” The “(C)” is an official code known as a “portion marking,” and it indicates the information is classified at the “confidential” level. Other sections of the email are marked with (SBU), a code meaning “sensitive but unclassified.” (US Department of State, 11/30/2015)
This is the second time it is known Clinton received an email clearly marked as classified, after getting another one from Hanley in April 2012. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) This email’s existence won’t be publicly noticed until after FBI Director James Comey will comment on July 5, 2016 that a very small number of Clinton’s emails were marked classified at the time. (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)
Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the message, “Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear. Philippe can circulate these links. Sid.” The email also includes links to four recent Media Matters stories questioning aspects of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation of the government’s response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that is very critical of Clinton and her State Department. For instance, one of the stories, published the same day Blumenthal’s email is written, has the title: “Right-Wing Media’s Libya Consulate Security Mythology Falls Apart.”
None of the articles have a Blumenthal by-line, but his “got this done” comment suggests he is somehow involved in making them. Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who will later head Clinton’s main Super PAC for her 2016 presidential campaign.
Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)
Jeremy Bash, who is chief of staff to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the time, sends an email to four other US officials, including Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. Sullivan then forwards the email to Clinton. The email has the subject heading: “This a.m. Green on Blue.” That is an idiom referring to when police attacks soldiers. The email refers to an Afghan police officer triggering a suicide vest and killing or wounding 14 Americans or Afghans, including one dead American.
The email will later be classified at the “secret” level, suggesting some important classified information in it, but its redactions make it difficult to understand. There is no indication of a reply from Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be specifically asked about this email, again suggesting something unusual about it. However, her answer will also be heavily reacted. For instance, “Clinton believed she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)
On February 4, 2016, NBC News will reveal that the email concerns undercover CIA officer Dario Lorenzetti. He died in the suicide attack described in the email. Lorenzetti’s CIA connection was leaked to the media by anonymous officials four days after his death and was widely reported in the news media, although his CIA cover was not lifted until later.
According to NBC News, in the redacted portions of the email, it seems Bash was trying “to preserve the CIA officer’s cover. But some of the language he used, now that Lorenzetti is known to have been a CIA officer, could be read as a US government acknowledgement that CIA officers pose as State Department personnel in a specific country, Afghanistan — something widely known but not formally admitted.” This is why the email is classified at the “secret” level.
Bash ends the email by instructing a CIA spokesperson to “please lash up with [redacted].” NBC News will indicate the missing word is “presumably either the spy agency or one of its employees.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)
This may be the phrase that the FBI asked Clinton about, and to which she replied that “she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
NBC News will also interview Bash about this email. Bash will claim that the email “did not reference the individual’s name, employer, nor any identifying description or information.” Additionally, once the CIA posthumously lifted Lorenzetti’s cover, “the original unclassified email could be read to confirm the general use of cover, prompting the redactions we now see. But any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)
This is the longeest down time by far during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The only other significant outage is for three days during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On December 6, 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts. (US Department of State, 7/29/2016)
Brock Johnson (Credit: Facebook)
Five days later, State Department official Brock Johnson sends an email to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills about this. It has the subject heading: “FW: Significant FOIA Request.” This email will be made public in July 2016 due to a different FOIA request by Judicial Watch.
Johnson writes in his email: “FYI [For your information] on the attached FOIA request from: ‘The request by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) ask for “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.”‘” Then he forwards an email to him about the request, and also includes the entire request as an attachment. (US Department of State, 7/29/2016)
A snippet of Brock Johnson’s email to Cheryl Mills. (Credit: public domain)
It appears likely that Mills then forwards this email to Clinton, because Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, and she will be asked about over a dozen specific emails sent to her, and she will be asked about an email sent on the same date, December 11, 2012, with the exact same subject heading, “FW: Significant FOIA Report.” If Clinton is sent the email, it isn’t included in the over 30,000 work-related emails Clinton will give to the State Department in December 2014.
According to a later FBI report, “Clinton stated she did not recall the specific request and was not aware of receiving any FOIA requests for information related to her email during her tenure as secretary of state. [The] State [Department] had a FOIA department and Clinton relied on the professionals in that department to address FOIA matters.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Although it has not been confirmed Clinton gets the email, there’s no doubt Mills does. And even though Mills is very aware of Clinton’s private email address since she frequently sends emails to it, she doesn’t take any action and merely has an aide monitor the progress of CREW’s request.
Melanie Sloan (Credit: CREW)
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of CREW, will later say, “Cheryl Mills should have corrected the record. She knew this wasn’t a complete and full answer.”
In May 2013, the State Department will respond to CREW, “no records responsive to your request were located.” Other requests for Clinton’s records will meet the same fate until the House Benghazi Committee finds out about her private email account in 2014.
When Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal will be questioned by the House Benghazi Committee in June 2015, he will reveal that in addition to the $120,000 a year he is paid for working at the Clinton Foundation, starting at “the very end of 2012,” he is also paid about $200,000 a year consulting part-time for Media Matters and related organizations. He will also say at the time of the interview that he is still being paid that much or even more.
Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who also will run Clinton’s main Super PAC in her 2016 presidential campaign. Additionally, Blumenthal will say he works for Correct the Record, American Bridge, and American Independent Institute, which also are pro-Clinton organizations run by Brock.
In June 2016, when this information is publicly revealed by accident in a document released by Congressional Democrats, the Los Angeles Times will call Blumenthal’s part-time salary an “eye-popping amount of money” which “exposes once again the absurd amounts of money people in the orbit of the Clintons sometimes seem to rake in just for, well, being in the orbit of the Clintons.” (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016) (Fox News, 6/19/2015)
This is according to a FBI report that will be released in September 2016. It is known the staffer whose account gets breached is female, but her name will be redacted. The unnamed hacker uses the anonymity software Tor to browse through this staffer’s messages and attachments on the server.
The FBI will call this the only confirmed “successful compromise of an email account on the server.” But the FBI will not be able to determine who the hacker is or how the hacker obtained the staffer’s username and password to access her account. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Wired will later comment, “The compromise of a Bill Clinton staffer—who almost certainly had no access to any of then-Secretary Clinton’s classified material—doesn’t make the security of those classified documents any clearer. But it will no doubt be seized on by the Clintons’ political opponents to raise more questions about their server’s security.”
Dave Aitel (Credit: Immunity)
Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano is in charge of monitoring the server’s access logs at the time.
But Dave Aitel, a former NSA security analyst and founder of the cypersecurity company Immunity, will later comment that the breach shows a lack of attention to the logs. “They weren’t auditing and restricting IP addresses accessing the server. That’s annoying and difficult when your user is the secretary of state and traveling all around the world… But if she’s in Russia and I see a login from Afghanistan, I’d say that’s not right, and I’d take some intrusion detection action. That’s not the level this team was at.” (Wired, 9/2/2016)
When Pagliano is interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will claim that he knew of no instance when the server was successfully breached, suggesting he didn’t know about this incident. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
And when Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about the incident in September 2016, he will say he knew nothing about it until he read about it in the FBI report released earlier that month. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
In a July 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton [will state] that she received no instructions or direction regarding the preservation or production of records from [the] State [Department] during the transition out of her role as secretary of state in early 2013. Furthermore, Clinton believed her work-related emails were captured by her practice of sending emails to State employees’ official State email accounts.”
At the end of Clinton’s tenure of secretary of state in February 2013, her private server is still being managed by Bryan Pagliano and Justin Cooper, with Pagliano doing most of the technical work and Cooper doing most of the customer service work. The management of the server will be taken over by the Platte River Networks (PRN) computer company in June 2013. It seems possible that the server is not as actively managed in the months in between.
Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)
In September 2016, Cooper will be questioned by a Congressional committee. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will ask him, “[Y]ou stepped back from the day-to-day activities with the Clintons about the time of the transition, is that correct? As she left office?”
He will reply, ‘Yes.”
When asked about his knowledge of what happened to server security after the hacker known as Guccifer broke into the email account of a Clinton confidant and publicly exposed Clinton’s email address on the server in March 2013, Cooper will reply, “At that point in time I was transitioning out of any role or responsibility with the server as various teams were selecting Platte River Networks to take over the email services and I don’t know that I had any sort of direct response.”
Additionally, when Cooper will be asked about his contact with PRN, he will say, “My interaction was handing over user names and passwords and that was the totality of the interaction I’ve had. I’ve never had interaction with them.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
It is not known if Pagliano similarly cuts down his involvement with managing the server during this time, since he has refused to publicly comment about his experiences. The FBI has mentioned nothing about the management of Pagliano or Cooper during this time period. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In the spring of 2013, Clinton aide Monica Hanley works with Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper to create an archive of Clinton’s emails. Clinton aide Huma Abedin will later tell the FBI that the archive was created as a reference for the future production of a book. Whereas Hanley will later tell the FBI that the archive was created as a security precaution after Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal had his email account broken into on March 14, 2013, publicly exposing Clinton’s email address.
Cooper gives Hanley an Apple MacBook laptop from the Clinton Foundation and helps her through the process of remotely transferring Clinton’s emails from Clinton’s server to the laptop and a thumb drive. These two copies of the Clinton emails are intended to be stored in Clinton’s houses in Chappaqua, New York, and Whitehaven, Washington, DC. However, Hanley will tell the FBI that this doesn’t happen because she forgets to give the laptop and the thumb drive to Clinton’s staff.
Nearly a full year will pass before Hanley finds the laptop again. She will send it though the mail, only to apparently have it get permanently lost somehow. It is unclear what happens to the thumb drive, but it will not be seen again either. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On March 14, 2013, the Romanian hacker known as Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and learned Clinton’s private email address and thus her clintonemail.com server domain.
A September 2016 FBI report will reveal that “An examination of log files [of Clinton’s server] from March 2013 indicated that IP addresses from Russia and Ukraine attempted to scan the server on March 15, 2013, the day after the Blumenthal compromise, and on March 19 and March 21, 2013. However, none of these attempts were successful, and it could not be determined whether this activity was attributable to [Guccifer].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On March 14, 2013, the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and made Clinton’s private email address public. Cheryl Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff until January 2013, when both she and Clinton left the State Department. But Mills continues to assist Clinton, and in August 2016 she will mention in written answers to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that she was concerned at this time how the Guccifer hack could impact the running of Clinton’s private email server.
She says she discussed the issue with Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s computer technician “in or around March 2013, when the email account of Sidney Blumenthal was compromised by a hacker known as Guccifer. As I recall, these discussions involved whether this event might affect Secretary Clinton’s email.”
Clinton changed her email address several days after the Guccifer hack was discovered. However, the server continued to operate and her new email address was also hosted on the same server. It is still unknown whether Pagliano or anyone else took any other security steps in response to the hack. (Politico, 8/10/2016)
On December 6, 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts.
Anne Weismann (Credit: public domain)
On this day, State Department official Sheryl Walter sends a response letter to CREW’s chief counsel Anne Weismann that states “no records responsive to your request were located.” No details or reasons are given. (US Department of State, 8/29/2016)
In fact, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills was informed about this FOIA request while Clinton was still secretary of state, and she knew Clinton’s private email address was responsive to the request, but she took no action and merely had another official monitor the progress of the request. Clinton may have been sent an email about it as well.
Also, in the months since the FOIA request was made, Clinton’s exact email address was revealed to the media, due to the Guccifer hack of a Clinton associate in March 2013. But the department’s “no response” reply would mean she used no email address for work.
Clinton sends an email to former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, State Department official Jeffrey Feltman, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. Many of the email recipients continue to advise Clinton after leaving the department at the same time she did, around February 2013.
From left to right, William Burns (Credit: public domain) Kurt Campbell (Credit: public domain) Jeffrey Feltman (Credit: PatrickTsui / FCO)
In the email, Clinton recalls “remember how after US signed 123 deal [with] UAE [the United Arab Emirates] and we were in Abu Dhabi [the capital of the UAE].” This is a reference to a 2009 pact between the US and the UAE to share nuclear energy information and materials, with the UAE also agreeing not to pursue building a nuclear weapon. Much of the rest of the email is unintelligible because it is heavily redacted for containing information that is later considered classified, at the “confidential” level.
The email will be made public in August 2016 due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents sent by Clinton after her tenure as secretary of state ended to officials still at the State Department. This is the only email in response to the FOIA request sent or received by Clinton later deemed classified.
Department spokesperson John Kirby will later comment: “I am not going to speak to the content but I would point you to that one of the FOIA exemptions here we used was 1.4B which is foreign government information. And as we previously explained, while foreign government information may be protected from public release, both the executive order on classification and the foreign affairs manual acknowledge that foreign government information can often be maintained on unclassified systems.” (NBC News, 9/1/2016) (US Department of State, 6/26/2016)
Datto Cloud engineer Charles Lundblad (left) chats with CEO and founder of Datto, Austin McChord, at the firm’s Norwalk, CT headquarters. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / Hearst Connecticut Media)
On May 31, 2013, Platte River Networks (PRN) takes over management of Clinton’s private server. On the same day, PRN buys a Datto SIRIS S2000 data storage device, which is made by Datto, Inc. Over the next month, this is attached to Clinton’s server to provide periodic back-up copies of the data on the server. PRN sends a bill for the device to Clinton Executive Service Corp. (CESC), which is a Clinton family company.
CESC employees work with PRN employees on how the Datto device is configured. Datto offers a local back-up and a remote back-up using the Internet “cloud.” CESC asks for a local back-up and specifically requests that no data be stored in the Internet cloud at any time.
However, due to an apparent misunderstanding, back-up copies of the server will be periodically made both locally and in the cloud. This will only be discovered by PRN as a whole in August 2015. (US Congress, 9/12/2016)
However, despite internal PRN emails from August 2015 indicating many PRN employees didn’t know about the Datto cloud back-up until that time, the FBI will later find evidence that an unknown PRN employee deleted data from the cloud back-up in March 2015, meaning that at least one PRN employee had to have known about the cloud back-up by that time.
After Platte River Networks (PRN) is selected to manage Clinton’s private email server on May 31, 2013, the company decides to immediately relocate the server and then also replace it with a better one.
The founders of Platte River Network: Brent Allshouse (left) and Treve Suavo (right). (Credit: Platte River Networks)
PRN assigns two employees to manage the new server (which will be the third server used by Clinton). The FBI will later redact the names of these two employees, but it is known that one of them works remotely from his home in some unnamed town and will handle the day-to-day administration of the server, and the other one works at PRN’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado, and handles all hardware installation and any required physical maintenance of the server. Media reports will later name the two employees as Paul Combetta, who works from Rhode Island, and Bill Thornton.
The employee at PRN’s headquarters (who logically would be Thorton) works with Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano to help with the transition. Around June 4, 2013, this person is granted administrator access to the server, as well as any accompanying services.
Equinix Logo (Credit: public domain)
On June 23, 2013, this person travels to Clinton’s house in Chappaqua, New York, shuts down the server, and transports it to a data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, run by Equinix, Inc. This older server will stay at the Equinix facility until it is given to the FBI on October 3, 2015.
The PRN headquarters employee (still likely to be Thornton) turns the old server back on in the Equinix data center so users can continue to access their email accounts. Then he spends a few days there setting up a new server. When he leaves, all the physical equipment for the new server is successfully installed except for an intrusion detection device, which Equinix installs later, once it gets shipped.
Meanwhile, the PRN employee who works remotely (Combetta) does his remote work to get the new server online. Around June 30, 2013, this employee begins to transfer all the email accounts from the old server to the new one. After several days, all email accounts hosted on the presidentclinton.com, wjcoffice.com, and clintonemail.com domains are transferred. However, PRN keeps the old server online at the Equinix data center along with the new server to ensure email continues to be delivered. But the old server no longer hosts email services for the Clintons.
According to an FBI report made public in September 2016, “The new Clinton email server hosted email for [Hillary] Clinton, President Clinton, [redacted], and their respective staffs.”
The Dell PowerEdge R620 (Credit: public domain)
This same FBI report will explain that the new server consists of the following equipment: “a Dell PowerEdge R620 server hosting four virtual machines, including four separate virtual machines for Microsoft Exchange email hosting, a BES for the management of BlackBerry devices, a domain controller to authenticate password requests, and an administrative server to manage the other three virtual machines, a Datto SfRlS 2000 to store onsite and remote backups of the server system, a CloudJacket device for intrusion prevention, two Dell switches, and two Fortinet Fortigate 80C firewalls.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The FBI report will not make entirely clear what happens to the data on the old server. But a September 2015Washington Post article will assert that after PRN moved all the data onto a new server, everything on the original server was deleted until it is “blank.” However, it was not wiped, which means having the old files overwritten several times with new data until they can never be recovered. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)
In June 2013, Platte River Networks (PRN) takes over management of Clinton’s server. Late in the month, they replace the server with a new one and then transfer the data to it. They subcontract with the company Datto, Inc. and purchase a device called the Datto SIRIS S2000 to make periodic back-ups of all the data on the new server. The first such back-up takes place on June 24, 2013.
But data is still being transferred from the old server to the new one. The June 29, 2013 back-up will later prove to be the most important one for FBI investigators, as it apparently is the first one after the data transfer is completed. From that point onwards, emails from Clinton’s four years as secretary of state are likely to only get lost from the server, not added.
The FBI will later report that all of Clinton’s emails at the start of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, from January 23, 2009 to March 17, 2009 were missing from the over 30,000 emails Clinton handed over. But the FBI’s Clinton investigation recovered some these emails because they were “captured through a Datto backup on June 29, 2013. However, the emails obtained are likely only a subset of the emails sent or received by Clinton during this time period.”
Clinton’s first server was replaced around March 18, 2009 by the same server that PRN then decided to replace in June 2013. But presumably some of the emails on the first server were transferred to the second server, from instance by being in email inboxes, and then were transferred again by PRN to the newest (and third) server.
One thing that isn’t clear is how many of the emails from after March 18, 2009 were recovered by the FBI. It also isn’t clear if the FBI recovered emails from a Datto device attached to the new server, or if it was from a copy of the data that Datto kept in the “cloud,” over the Internet. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
According to an unnamed Platte River Networks (PRN) employee, Clinton’s server has encryption protection to combat hackers, but the individual emails have not been protected with encryption. With PRN taking over management of the server in June 2013, this employee will later tell the FBI that “the Clintons originally requested that email on [Clinton’s] server be encrypted such that no one but the users could read the content. However, PRN ultimately did not configure the email settings this way, to allow system administrators to troubleshoot problems occurring within user accounts.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In December 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts. (US Department of State, 7/29/2016) But in May 2013, State Department official Sheryl Walter sent a response letter to CREW that stated “no records responsive to your request were located.” US Department of State, 8/29/2016)
In early June 2013, some State Department officials looking over material to possibly give to a Congressional investigation discovered Clinton’s private email address. Then, in the ensuing weeks, senior department officials debated if they were required to turn over such information. In fact, regulations state they are required to do so, but they ultimately fail to share the address with anyone anyway. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
During this apparent debate period, on August 7, 2013, employees of the department’s FOIA response team search for FOIA requests related to Clinton’s emails.
Geoff Hermesman (Credit: LinkedIn)
Margaret Grafeld mentions in an email to John Hackett, Sheryl Walter, Karen Finnegan, Geoff Hermesman, and two other department officials, “John, you mentioned yesterday requests for Secretary Clinton’s emails; may I get copies, pls [please] and thx [thanks].”
Sheryl Walter replies to the group, “Goeff, can you get a copy of all requests related to this request? Karen, I don’t think we have any litigation on this topic, do we? Did we respond to the CREW request yet?” (Walter actually was the one who wrote CREW in May 2013 that no emails had been found.)
Geoff Hermesman then replies to Sheryl Walter and the group, “Sheryl, A search of the F2 database identified 17 FOIA cases that contain Clinton in the subject line and can be further construed as requests for correspondence between the Secretary and other individuals and/or organizations. Of these, four specifically mention emails or email accounts.” He also mentions that two of those four cases are open and the other two are closed.
Gene Smilansky (Credit: New York Times)
Walter then emails just Karen Finnegan and Gene Smilansky, “What about the CREW request? Is that still outstanding?”
Finnegan explains in subsequent emails to Walter and Smilansky that CREW was sent a response, and then provides the exact quote of the CREW request.
Smilansky, who is a department lawyer and legal counsel, then asks Walter and Finnegan to discuss it with him over the phone, so that is the end of the email trail. (US Department of State, 8/29/2016)
There is no evidence any of the 17 FOIA requesters are told about Clinton emails that are responsive to their cases, presumably due to the above-mentioned higher-level department debate. Only in the later half of 2014 will the department change this policy, after a new Congressional committee search for documents.
From late June 2013 until October 2013, Platte River Networks (PRN) is managing the server, apparently without any anti-hacking software. In October 2013, the software they have been waiting for arrives and is installed. This is an intrusion detection and prevention system called CloudJacket from SECNAP Network Security.
According to a later FBI report, it “had pre-configured settings that blocked or blacklisted certain email traffic identified as potentially harmful and provided real-time monitoring, alerting, and incident response services. SECNAP personnel would receive notifications when certain activity on the network triggered an alert. These notifications were reviewed by SECNAP personnel and, at times, additional follow-up was conducted with PRN in order to ascertain whether specific activity on the network was normal or anomalous. Occasionally, SECNAP would send email notifications to [an unnamed PRN employee], prompting him to block certain IP addresses. [This employee] described these notifications as normal and did not recall any serious security incident or intrusion attempt.”
Additionally, “PRN also implemented two firewalls for additional protection of the network. [This PRN employee] stated that he put two firewalls in place for redundancy in case one went down.”
The FBI report will also conclude, “Forensic analysis of alert email records automatically generated by CloudJacket revealed multiple instances of potential malicious actors attempting to exploit vulnerabilities on the PRN Server. FBI determined none of the activity, however, was successful against the server.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton is greeted by Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Oleg Markov, as US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28, 2012. (Credit: public domain)
Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[A]nybody who has ever traveled in other countries, some of which shall remain nameless, except for Russia and China, you know that you can’t bring your phones and your computers. And if you do, good luck. I mean, we would not only take the batteries out, we would leave the batteries and the devices on the plane in special boxes. Now, we didn’t do that because we thought it would be fun to tell somebody about. We did it because we knew that we were all targets and that we would be totally vulnerable.”
She will make similar comments in a private paid speech on August 28, 2014: “[E]very time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute, less, a nanosecond. So we would take the batteries out, we’d leave them on the plane.”
The comments from both speeches will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director. Although the comments are made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quotes will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
Based on information from 2016 FBI interviews of Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, it appears Clinton used her BlackBerry while still secretary of state to send an email to President Obama from St. Petersburg, Russia on June 28, 2012.
Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[W]hen I got to the State Department, we were so far behind in technology, it was embarrassing. And, you know, people were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues and cost issues, and we really had to try to push into the last part of the Twentieth Century in order to get people functioning in 2009 and ’10.”
The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
Clinton was keynote speaker at Goldman Sachs annual dinner that was hosted at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 23, 2014. (Credit: public domain)
Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[W]hat I think is true, despite [NSA fugitive whistleblower Edward] Snowden’s denials, is that if he actually showed up in Hong Kong [China] with computers and then showed up in Mexico with computers. Why are those computers not exploited when my cell phone was going to be exploited?” (Snowden was on the run from the US government and eventually settled in Russia earlier in 2013.)
The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to later revelations of Clinton’s poor security of her BlackBerry while Secretary of State. FBI Director James Comey will later call her “extremely careless.” Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
In June 2013, Platte River Networks (PRN) took over the management of Clinton’s private server. They immediately moved her server to an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and then transferred the data to a new server. The old server remained turned on next to the new one, apparently to assist with the delivery of incoming emails.
According to a September 2015 FBI interview with Paul Combetta, the PRN employee who does most of the active management of the server, around December 2013, PRN decides that email delivery on the new server is working well. As a result, the old server is turned off. It, along with a NAS back-up hard drive attached to it, will remain disconnected until the FBI picks it up on August 12, 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
When Clinton became secretary of state in January 2009, her emails were hosted on her first private email server, which was an Apple computer (either an Apple Power Macintosh G4 or G5 tower). In March 2009, the server was replaced by a new one built by Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano. The old server was repurposed to serve as a personal computer and/or workstation for household staff at Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, house.
At some unknown point in 2014, the data on this Apple computer is transferred to an Apple iMac computer. The hard drive of the old Apple computer is then discarded. Clinton’s emails from January 2009 until around March 18, 2009, are apparently lost as a result.
On October 14, 2015, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, tells the Justice Department that a review of the iMac was conducted, as requested by the Justice Department, and no emails were found belonging to Clinton from when she was secretary of state. The FBI will not directly examine the iMac. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton attends a meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and various business leaders on September 21, 2009. (Credit: public domain)
Clinton gives a private paid speech for General Electric. In it, she says that when she arrived at the State Department as secretary of state, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices. I mean, so you’re thinking how do we operate in this new environment dominated by technology, globalizing forces? We have to change, and I can’t expect people to change if I don’t try to model it and lead it.”
The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
In the spring of 2013, Clinton aide Monica Hanley made a copy of all of Clinton’s emails on a MacBook laptop to make a safe back-up copy of them. Then she apparently forgot to do anything with it for nearly a full year.
The 2013 Apple MacBook Air Laptop (Credit: public domain)
In early 2014, Hanley finds the laptop where it has been stored at her personal residence. She attempts to transfer the archive of Clinton’s emails to Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company which is managing Clinton’s private server by this time. She works with PRN employee Paul Combetta. After trying unsuccessfully to remotely transfer the emails to him, Hanley ships the laptop to his residence in February 2014. Combetta then transfers Clinton’s emails from the laptop onto Clinton’s private server.
This server already should contain all of Clinton’s old emails. But the server that existed when Hanley made the back-up in the spring of 2013 was replaced in June 2013 by a new server, so it is possible that some emails get transferred at the time didn’t get successfully transferred before.
Combetta transfers all of the Clinton email content to a personal Gmail email address he created. Then he downloads all the emails from the Gmail account to a mailbox on the new Clinton server. He will later tell the FBI that he used the Gmail as a middle step because he had format compatibility issues.
Hanley will later tell the FBI that she recommended that PRN wipe the laptop after the emails were transferred to the server. (“Wiping” means repeatedly overwriting the data so it can never be recovered.) However, Combetta will tell the FBI that once the transfer was done, he deleted the emails from the laptop but didn’t do any wiping. He also deleted the emails uploaded to the Gmail account.
According to the FBI’s final report, Combetta then ships the laptop to a person whose name will later be redacted, but works on Clinton’s staff in some capacity. He ships it through the mail, using United States Postal Service (USPS) or United Parcel Service (UPS). The unnamed Clinton staffer will later tell the FBI that she never received the laptop. She will say that Clinton’s staff was moving offices at the time, and it would have been easy for the package to get lost during the transition period.
According to Combetta’s September 2015 FBI interview, he “shipped the foregoing MacBook back to [redacted], but recalled nothing about the return shipment.” That would presumably mean he shipped it back to Hanley, since she shipped it to him. But in Hanley’s January 2016 interview, she will claim to have asked another woman (whose name is redacted) if they ever received laptop and were told they did not. Thus it would appear Combetta and Hanley will have different accounts of who is sent the laptop.
The committee reaches an agreement with the State Department “regarding the production of records.” This will be mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report in the context of Clinton’s emails. However, further details are not known. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A captured shot of Combetta’s ‘stonetear’ GMail account with picture included. (Credit: public domain)
A Reddit user by the name of “stonetear” makes a Reddit post that will later cause controversy. Overwhelming evidence will emerge that “stonetear” is Paul Combetta, one of two Platte River Networks (PRN) employees actively managing Clinton’s private server at the time. The post reads:
“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?”
This July 24, 2014 Reddit post contained a request for advice about “stripping out” the email address of a “VERY VIP” email account. (Credit: Reddit)
A response captured in the Reddit chat warning Combetta that what he wants to do could result in “major legal issues.” (Credit: Reddit)
The post in made in a sub-forum frequented by other people who manage servers. One poster comments: “There is no supported way to do what you’re asking. You can only delete emails after they’re stored in the database. You can’t change them. If there was a feature in Exchange that allowed this, it would result in major legal issues. There may be ways to hack a solution, but I’m not aware of any.”
Despite this warning, “stonetear” replies, “As a .pst file or exported MSG files, this could be done though, yes? The issue is that these emails involve the private email address of someone you’d recognize and we’re trying to replace it with a placeholder as to not expose it.” (Reddit, 9/19/2016)
The post occurs one day after the House Benghazi Committee reached an agreement with the State Department on the production of records relating to Clinton’s communications. It also came one day after Combetta sent some of Clinton’s emails to Clinton’s lawyers so they could begin sorting them.
After Combetta is discovered to have authored the post in September 2016, Fortune Magazine will comment, “it’s not clear if there is anything illegal about the Reddit request. But the optics sure don’t look good, and strongly suggest that Combetta turned to social media for advice about how to tamper with government records that should been preserved.” (Fortune, 9/21/2016)
Samuelson’s task is to sort all the emails from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state into those deemed work-related and those deemed personal. She appears to have no security clearance and no special skills or experience for such a task.
In late July 2014, Platte River Networks (PRN), the company managing Clinton’s private server, emails some of Clinton’s emails to the laptops of Samuelson and Cheryl Mills, another Clinton lawyer (and her former chief of staff). PRN sends Samuelson and Mills the rest of Clinton’s emails in late September 2014. In 2016, Samuelson will tell the FBI that the sorting review takes several months and is completed just prior to December 5, 2014, when copies of the work-related emails are given to the State Department.
According to Samuelson’s 2016 FBI interview, she does the sorting on her laptop. She puts the work-related emails she finds into a computer folder. She first adds all emails sent to or from Clinton’s email account with .gov and .mil email addresses. Then she searches the remaining emails for the names of senior leaders in the State Department, as well as members of Congress, foreign leaders, or other official contacts.
Finally, she conducts a keyword search of terms such as “Afghanistan,” “Libya,” and “Benghazi.” Samuelson will claim that she reviews the “to,” “from,” and “subject” fields of every email; but she doesn’t read the content of every individual email. In some instances, she decides a if an email is work or personal by only reviewing the “to,” “from,” and “subject’ fields.
After Samuelson finishes her sorting, she prints all of the emails to be given to the State Department using a printer in Mills’ office. Then Mills and Kendall subsequently reviews emails that Samuelson printed. Any hard copy of an email Mills and Kendall deem not to be work-related is shredded, and the digital copy of the email is removed from the computer folder Samuelson created of all of the work-related emails.
Mills will later tell the FBI that, she only reviewed emails where Samuelson requested her guidance. There is no sign in the FBI’s final report that Kendall was interviewed about this matter.
With the sorting process completed, Samuelson creates a .pst file containing all of the work-related emails, and also makes sure that all work-related emails are printed to give to the State Department. The .pst file is given to Kendall on a USB thumb drive. On August 6, 2015, Kendall will give this thumb drive to the FBI, with consent from Clinton.
This account appears to be based mostly or entirely on the accounts of Samuelson and Mills. An FBI report will note: “The FBI was unable to obtain a complete list of keywords or named officials searched from Samuelson, Mills, or Clinton’s other attorneys due to an assertion of [attorney-client] privilege. ”
The 30,068 emails deemed work-related are given to the State Department, while the 31,830 deemed personal will later be deleted. The FBI will eventually find over 17,000 of the deleted emails, and thousands of them will be determined work-related after all. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will claim that she had no role whatsoever in the sorting process, other than telling her lawyers to do it.
John Podesta and Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Credit: Flickr)
Clinton forwards an email to her future campaign chair John Podesta. It is not clear where the forwarded email comes from, especially considering that Clinton is a private citizen at the time, since the sender’s name is not included. But it discusses nine detailed points on how to deal with the ISIS Islamist movement in Iraq and Syria. The forwarded email starts with the sentence: “Note: Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.”
Podesta replies with some brief commentary on the email.
Then Clinton emails him back, writing, “Agree but there may be opportunities as the Iraqi piece improves. Also, any idea whose fighters attacked Islamist positions in Tripoli, Libya? Worth analyzing for future purposes.”
Clinton speaks at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, August 28, 2014. (Credit: Noah Berger / The Associated Press)
Clinton gives a private paid speech for Nexenta Systems, a computer software company. In it, she says, “Let’s face it, our government is woefully, woefully behind in all of its policies that affect the use of technology. When I got to the State Department, it was still against the rules to let most — or let all foreign service officers have access to a BlackBerry.”
The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
In late July 2014, the State Department informally requested Clinton to provide all her work-related emails from when she was secretary of state. Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s lawyers (as well as her former chief of staff), then had Platte River Networks (PRN), the company managing Clinton’s private server, send her and Clinton lawyer Heather Samuelson copies of all of Clinton’s emails that were sent to or received from anyone with a .gov email address.
According to a later FBI report, in late September 2014, Mills and Samuelson then ask an unnamed PRN employee to send them all of Clinton’s emails from her tenure as secretary of state, including emails sent to or received from non-.gov email addresses. Mills and Samuelson will later tell the FBI that “this follow-up request was made to ensure their review captured all of the relevant.” The PRN employee does so. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Although the name of the PRN employee is unknown, the only two employees actively managing Clinton’s server at the time are Paul Combetta and Bill Thornton. Combetta sent the earrlier batch of emails in late July 2014.
Cheryl Mills after testifying privately to the House Benghazi Committee while Representatives Elijah Cummings and Trey Gowdy stand behind her, on September 3, 2015. (Credit Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)
On September 3, 2015, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills will testify under oath in front of the House Benghazi Committee. After being asked about her role in sorting and deleting Clinton’s emails, Mills says that “after the letter came” from the State Department on October 28, 2014 asking for Clinton’s work-related emails, “Secretary Clinton asked [Clinton’s personal lawyer] David Kendall and myself to oversee a process to ensure that any records that could be potentially work-related were provided to the department.”
Mills is asked if she or Kendall were in physical possession of the server at the time.
She replies, “No. … [T]hat server, as I understand it, doesn’t contain any of her records. So we asked Platte River to give us a .pst [computer file] of all of her emails during the tenure where she was there, which they did. And we used that .pst to first search for and set aside all of the state.gov records, then to actually do a name search of all of the officials in the department so that we could ensure that all the senior officials that she would likely be corresponding with got looked at and searched for by name, and then a review of every sender and recipient so that you knew, if there was a misspelling or something that was inaccurate, that you would also have that review done, as well. And then that created the body of, I think, about 30,000 emails that ended up being ones that were potentially work-related, and not, obviously, completely, but it was the best that we could do, meaning obviously there were some personal records that are turned over, and the department has advised the Secretary of that.”
Mills further explains that she and Kendall “oversaw the process. The person who actually undertook it is a woman who worked for me.” This woman is another lawyer, Heather Samuelson, who Mills admits doesn’t have any specialized training or skills with the Federal Records Act or identifying official records.
Then Mills is asked what happened to the “universe of the .pst file” after the work-emails had been sorted out.
She replies: “So the potential set of federal records, we created a thumb drive that David Kendall kept at his office. And then the records themselves, that would have been the universe that they sent, Platte River took back. […] So they just removed it. So it ended up being on system, and they just removed it. And I don’t know what is the technological way they do it, because it’s a way you have to access it, and then they make it so you can’t access it anymore.” (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015)
Paul Combetta is the Platte River Networks (PRN) employee doing most of the active managing of Clinton’s private server. In a September 2015 FBI interview, he will claim that a person working for the Clinton family company Clinton Executive Service Corp. (CESC) whose name is later redacted contacts him around December 2014 and tells him that Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin are getting new email accounts on a different server not administered by PRN. Indeed, other sources indicate that in December 2014, Clinton and Abedin get new email accounts on a server with the hrcoffice.com domain name.
As part of this change, Combetta copies Clinton’s email from her email@example.com email address to her new hrcoffice.com address. Clinton began using the firstname.lastname@example.org address in late March 2013, shortly after her tenure as secretary of state ended. Combetta will claim that nobody told him “to transfer any archived email to the new server.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
However, Clinton’s earlier emails could have been transferred to her new email address around the time it was created in late March 2013, in which case they too would get copied to the hrcoffice.com server. But the FBI will never search this server to see if any of Clinton’s emails from her tenure as secretary of state can be recovered from it.
On October 28, 2014, the State Department formally asked Clinton for copies of all her work-related emails, after asking informally for several months. Three lawyers working for Clinton, Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, and Heather Samuelson, then sorted Clinton’s emails into those they deemed work-related or personal.
Paul Combetta (Credit: Facebook)
According to a later FBI report, “on or around December 2014 or January 2015, Mills and Samuelson requested that [Platte River Networks (PRN) employee Paul Combetta] remove from their laptops all of the emails from the July and September 2014 exports. [Combetta] used a program called BleachBit to delete the email-related files so they could not be recovered.” PRN is the computer company managing Clinton’s emails at the time.
The FBI report will explain, “BleachBit is open source software that allows users to ‘shred’ files, clear Internet history, delete system and temporary files and wipe free space on a hard drive. Free space is the area of the hard drive that can contain data that has been deleted. BleachBit’s ‘shred files’ function claims to securely erase files by overwriting data to make the data unrecoverable.”
ScreenConnect Logo (Credit: public domain)
Combetta then remotely connects to the laptops of Mills and Samuelson using the computer program ScreenConnect to complete the deletions. Clinton’s emails are being stored in a .pst file. Combetta will later tell the FBI “that an unknown Clinton staff member told him s/he did not want the .pst file after the export and wanted it removed from the [Clinton server]” as well.
The Clinton emails are deleted from the laptops of Mills and Samuelson around this time. But another copy of all the emails exist on the server. Combetta will delete those emails as well, in late March 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Since early 2009, Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin have had private email accounts on the clintonemail.com domain, which is hosted on Clinton’s private email server.
Chelsea Clinton and Huma Abedin chat while on the campaign trail in 2008. Huma also appears to be holding two flip phones and a BlackBerry. (Credit: Reuters)
According to a September 2016 FBI report, the new domain hrcoffice.com is created in December 2014. In a later FBI interview, Abedin stated the clintonemail.com system was “going away,” and after the initiation of the new domain, she didn’t have access to her clintonemail.com account anymore. Presumably the same is true for Clinton (and the few others who had email accounts on the domain, such as Chelsea Clinton).
The FBI report will indicate the hrcoffice.com domain is hosted on different equipment, which presumably means a different server. But the clintonemail.com server will continue to run until October 2015, when it will be confiscated by the FBI.
As part of the transfer process, Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta copies all of Clinton’s emails from her current account on the clintonemail.com server to her new acccount on the hrcoffice.com server.
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, the FBI will summarize Clinton as saying: “Clinton transitioned to an email address on the hrcoffice.com domain because she had a small number of personal staff, but no physical office or common email domain. To address these issues, she moved to a common email domain and physical office space. After this move, Clinton did not recall any further access to clintonemail.com.”
The switch comes about one month after the State Department formally asked Clinton for all of her work-related emails from her secretary of state tenure, when she used her clintonemail.com account. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Gowdy shakes hands with Clinton after she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. (Credit: CNN)
Representative Trey Gowdy (R) sends a letter to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall on behalf of the House Benghazi Committee, which he chairs. In the letter, he cites over a dozen examples of emails from Clinton’s private clintonemail.com email address relating to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that have been recently uncovered. He suggests there are probably many more relevant emails still to be discovered. He also notes evidence that Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin has a clintonemail.com email address.
The letter concludes with a formal request for all emails relevant to the Benghazi attack from Clinton’s clintonemail.com address from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012, to be turned over by December 31, 2014. (US Department of State, 2/4/2016)
Clinton will give the State Department over 30,000 emails just three days later, but these will not yet be available to the House Benghazi Committee. The committee will not get the Benghazi-related emails until February 13, 2015, and they will be sent from the State Department, not from Clinton’s lawyer.
An unnamed State Department official who worked in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) will be interviewed by the FBI on August 17, 2015.
She says that, “Initially, IPS officials were told there were 14 bankers boxes of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails at Clinton’s Friendship Heights office” near Washington, DC. But “on or about December 5, 2014, IPS personnel picked up only 12 bankers boxes of Clinton’s emails from Williams & Connolly,” which contains the office of David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer. The State Department officials involved were not sure if the boxes “were consolidated or what could have happened to the two other boxes.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016) December 5, 2014 is the day Clinton gives 55,000 pages containing 30,000 of her work-related emails to the State Department.
Although it’s unclear if any emails actually got lost, Fox News will publish an article about this on October 6, 2016, not long after the FBI interview of the official is made public. (Fox News, 10/6/2016) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will then mention the lost boxes in a presidential debate against Clinton three days later.
In 2016, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills will be interviewed by the FBI. Mills will claim that in December 2014, Clinton decided she no longer needed access to any of her emails older than 60 days. This comes shortly after the State Department formally asked Clinton for all of her work-related emails, on October 28, 2014. This decision has to take place before an email discussing it on December 11, 2014, written Paul Combetta, the Platte River Networks (PRN) employee managing Clinton’s private server.
Paul Combetta (Credit: Facebook)
Even so, Mills will claim she instructed Combetta to modify the email retention policy on Clinton’s clintonemail.com email account to reflect this change. (PRN is managing Clinton’s private server at the time.) This means that the 31,830 Clinton emails that Mills and Clinton’s other lawyers David Kendall and Heather Samuelson recently decided were not work-related will be deleted after 60 days.
However, Combetta will later say in an FBI interview that he forgot to make the changes to Clinton’s clintonemail.com account and didn’t make them until late March 2015.
Clinton will also later be interviewed by the FBI. She will claim that after her staff sent her work-related emails to the State Department on December 5, 2014, “she was asked what she wanted to do with her remaining personal emails. Clinton instructed her staff she no longer needed the emails. Clinton stated she never deleted, nor did she instruct anyone to delete, her emails to avoid complying with FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], State [Department], or FBI requests for information.”
However, Clinton saying her personal emails were no longer needed, then having Mills tell PRN to have them delete them after 60 days, will result in all of Clinton’s emails that her lawyers deemed personal getting permanently deleted. The FBI will later recover some of the emails through other means and discover that thousands actually were work-related. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On December 10, 2014, “stonetear” asks for advice from Reddit users on how to implement a 60-day email “purge” policy. This will later be revealed to be an alias for Paul Combetta, a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee actively managing Clinton’s private server at the time.
He writes: “Hello. I have a client who wants to push out a 60 day email retention policy for certain users. However, they also want these users to have a ‘Save Folder’ in their Exchange folder list where the users can drop items that they want to hang onto longer than the 60 day window.
All email in any other folder in the mailbox should purge anything older than 60 days (should not apply to calendar or contact items of course). How would I go about this? Some combination of retention and managed folder policy?”
Combetta as ‘stonetear’ asking Reddit users for help. (Credit: Reddit)
Cheryl Mills (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Getty Images)
In 2016, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills will be interviewed by the FBI. Mills will claim that in December 2014, Clinton decided she no longer needed access to any of her personal emails, and they could be deleted after 60 days. This comes shortly after the State Department formally asked Clinton for all of her work-related emails, on October 28, 2014.
According to a later FBI report based on a February 2016 interview with Combetta, Combetta communicates with Mills and/or Clinton lawyer Heather Samuelson by email on December 10 and 12, 2014, as well as by phone on December 9 and 10, 2014. In these communications, they tell Combetta they want the last 60 days of the emails of Clinton and Clinton aide Huma Abedin moved to new accounts. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
However, as can be seen from Combetta’s Reddit post, it appears Mills wanted Combetta to figure out how to keep some of the emails “longer than the 60 day window,” in contradiction to the later claim in Combetta’s interview, as well as Clinton’s later claim that all of her over 31,000 personal emails were unwanted and should be permanently deleted.
Paul Combetta is a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee who helps manage Clinton’s private server. In his February 18, 2016 FBI interview, his second, he will be asked about some communications from December 2014. An FBI summary of the interview published in September 2016 will state: “December 11, 2014 with the subject line ‘RE: 2 items for IT support,’ and a December 12, 2014 work ticket referencing email retention changes and archive/email cleanup, [Combetta] stated his reference in the email to ‘…the Hillary cover-up operation …’ was probably due to the recently requested change to a 60 day email retention policy and the comment was a joke. He did not recall the prior retention policy.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
Nothing more has been publicly released about this. However, it has been reported that Clinton decided in December 2014 to change the email retention policy on her private server to 60 days, effectively permanently wiping all her emails from her tenure as secretary of state. Combetta is the one given this job, but he will not do it until late March 2015, under mysterious and controversial circumstances.
Note that the FBI summary will merely report Combetta’s claim that “Hillary cover-up operation” comment was a joke and doesn’t give an opinion if that is true or not.
Nick Merrill, Clinton’s campaign press secretary, writes an email memo to Clinton’s other core staffers (including John Podesta and Robby Mook) who are developing a strategy that is described as being “designed to plant stories on Clinton’s decision-making process about whether to run for president.”
The email names Maggie Haberman who at the time writes for Politico, but will switch to covering the election for the New York Times one month later. Merrill writes, “We have ha[d] a very good relationship with Maggie Haberman of Politicoover the last year. We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed. … [F]or this we think we can achieve our objective and do the most shaping by going to Maggie.”
According to a later article by the Intercept, “The following month, when she is at the Times, Haberman publishes two stories on Clinton’s vetting process.”
The Intercept will be given this email and others by the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 in October 2016. The Intercept will comment that the email is just one of many “Internal strategy documents and emails among Clinton staffers” that “shed light on friendly and highly useful relationships between the campaign and various members of the US media, as well as the campaign’s strategies for manipulating those relationships. … At times, Clinton’s campaign staff not only internally drafted the stories they wanted published but even specified what should be quoted “on background” and what should be described as “on the record.” (The Intercept, 10/09/2016) (Wikileaks, 10/13/2016)
Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill writes an email to several Clinton staffers, describing two stories the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are preparing to publish that will be covering Clinton’s economic policies.
Nick Merrill holds an umbrella for Clinton, as Jennifer Palmieri looks on, in Ashland, Ohio, on August 1, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnick / The Associated Press)
Merrill writes, “Both will have a dose of personnel name-gaming, and I’ve spoken to both to steer them towards progressive names, which they seem to both have on their own. I want to give both stories something on the record that addresses the core of the story, but also speaks some of the things we all felt needed a little proactive addressing, like inevitability and timing.”
Merrill then suggests the core of the stories will be about, “Increasing access to opportunity and fighting for upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers in every job she’s held. You heard it from her on the campaign trail last fall, where she laid out the challenges we face. She’s casting a wide net, talking to a wide range of people on a range of specific topics. There’s no red X on a calendar somewhere, but make no mistake, if she runs, she will take nothing for granted, she’ll present bold ideas, and she will fight for every vote.” (Wikileaks, 10/24/2016)
Amy Chozick (Credit: Google Plus)
One week later, the New York Times publishes an article by Amy Chozick, entitled “Economic Plan is a Quandry for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” As hoped, the core of the story Merrill mentions in his email is covered in the article and is included as a quote by Bill Clinton’s previous treasury secretary:
“’It’s not enough to address upward mobility without addressing inequality,’ said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration who is among those talking with Mrs. Clinton. ‘The challenge, though, is to address inequality without embracing a politics of envy.’”
Chozick then “steers” readers to several other “progressive names” and writes, “Several of Mr. Clinton’s former advisers, including Alan S. Blinder, Robert E. Rubin and Mr. Summers, maintain influence. But Mrs. Clinton has cast a wide net that also includes Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality; Alan B. Krueger, a professor at Princeton and co-author of ‘Inequality in America’; and Peter R. Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who focuses on retirement issues, is also playing a prominent role.” (New York Times, 2/7/2015)
Laura Meckler (Credit: Tout)
A few days after that, The Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Laura Meckler entitled, “Hillary Clinton Economic Plan to Chart Center-Left Course.” The article appears to be less “steered” by the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t include “a dose of personnel name-gaming” and offers a more balanced approach between what the liberal base of the Democratic party hopes for, as opposed to Clinton’s more centrist economic positions. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2015)
Because one of the recipients of this email is Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, it will be released by Wikileaks in October 2016.
Lanny Davis and Hillary Clinton (Credit: public domain)
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta emails Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers at the time, as well as being her former chief of staff. He writes, “On another matter….and not to sound like Lanny, but we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do so sooner than later.”
This is in reference to the New York Times front-page story from earlier in the day, publicly revealing that Clinton exclusively used a private email account while secretary of state.
“Lanny” is a likely reference to Lanny Davis, who was a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and is a longtime media surrogate for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Less than a week later, Davis will publicly advocate that Clinton should be transparent with her emails.
By saying “dump,” Podesta could mean dump them to the public, or he could mean get rid of them. Unfortunately, there are no more comments from him or Mills to help clarify his meaning.
These emails will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
On the morning of March 2, 2015, a front-page New York Times article reveals Clinton’s use of her own private email server. Platte River Networks (PRN) is managing the server.
Bill Thornton (Credit: public domain)
Later in the day, PRN employee Bill Thornton writes in an internal company email, “I spent some time in their firewall just now locking everything down (pretty tight).” (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
However, on March 4, 2015, an analysis of the server’s publicly visible settings will show it has a misconfigured encryption system. Further articles the next day will expose more security vulnerabilities.
PRN will make more changes to improve the server’s security around March 7, 2015.
On March 2, 2015, a New York Times article publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a personal email account and private server to conduct government business. The FBI’s Clinton email investigation will later identify an increased number of login attempts to her server and its associated domain controller just after this article comes out.
According to the FBI in September 2016, “Forensic analysis revealed none of the login attempts were successful. [The] FBI investigation also identified an increase in unauthorized login attempts into the Apple iCloud account likely associated with Clinton’s email address during this time period.” (Clinton’s email address, which had been publicly revealed in March 2013, was still used as the user name for the account.) “Investigation determined all potentially suspicious Apple iCloud login attempts were unsuccessful.”
Despite all this, Clinton does not simply turn the server off. Instead, Platte River Networks (PRN) employees, who are managing the server, make some security improvements around March 7, 2015.
PRN staff also discuss the possibility of conducting penetration testing against the server to highlight vulnerabilities, so they can be fixed. However, the penetration testing ultimately doesn’t happen. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the company managing Clinton’s private server. Due to a wave of hacking attacks on the server following the public revelation of the server on March 2, 2015, PRN considers doing penetration testing. That means hiring someone to try to hack the server in order to expose its vulnerabilities so they can be fixed.
Cybersecurity expert Johannes Ullrich will later comment, “It’s a good idea, and it’s also commonly done.”
On March 2, 2015, the New York Times publishes a front-page story about Clinton’s emails practices and her use of a private email server.
The Equinix data center in Secaucus, NY. (Credit: public domain)
In the days following the publication of the article, Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers as well as her former chief of staff, requests that Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company managing Clinton’s server, conduct a complete inventory of all equipment related to the server.
In response to this request, an unnamed PRN employee travels to the Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, where the server is located, to conduct an onsite review of the equipment. At the same time, another unnamed PRN employee logs in to the server remotely to check on it.
This will result in some changes to the security settings of the server around March 7, 2015. Additionally, many emails (other than Clinton’s) are deleted from the server on March 8, 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
David DeCamillis, the vice president of sales for Platte River Networks (PRN), emails other PRN employees about the news reported in the New York Timesthe day before revealing Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address hosted on her private server. He writes, “I’m sure the Republicans are giving each other high fives; especially Jeb Bush.”
PRN is the company that has been managing the server since June 2013. There will later be suggestions that PRN was chosen by Clinton or her employees to manage the server at least in part due to the company’s political preference for Democrats, and this email seems to fit with such a preference.
DeCamillis also wonders what emails the company might be asked to turn over. PRN employee Paul Combetta will send a reply detailing what work he’s done on Clinton’s server. (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
At the time, Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor of Florida, is seen as the Republican frontrunner for the November 2016 presidential election, though he will ultimately fail to win the Republican nomination.
The committee already had requested that the State Department turn over all of Clinton’s emails relating to Benghazi or Libya. But on March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported a front-page story that revealed Clinton’s lawyers had deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails without input from anyone else, deeming them “personal” in nature.
The committee gives a letter to Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, requesting the preservation and production of all documents and media related to email@example.com, the email Clinton used while she was secretary of state. In addition, they ask the same for her firstname.lastname@example.org account. This account was only used by Clinton starting one month after she left the State Department, but at the time that isn’t clear. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
One day later, the committee will issue two subpoenas to Clinton, but they have a more limited scope.
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, the FBI will summarize her as saying, “Concerning the Congressional preservation request on March 3, 2015 for email and other records, Clinton trusted her legal team would comply with the request.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
On March 3, 2015, David DeCamillis, the vice president of sales for Platte River Networks (PRN), wonders what emails the company might be asked to turn over in an email to other PRN employees. This is because of a New York Times article on March 2, 2015 revealing Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address hosted on her private server, and PRN has been managing that server since June 2013.
Paul Combetta (Credit: CSpan)
PRN employee Paul Combetta replies to the email, although the date of the reply hasn’t been specified. “I’ve done quite a bit already in the last few months related to this. Her [Clinton’s] team had me do a bunch of exports and email filters and cleanup to provide a .pst [personal storage file] of all of HRC’s [Hillary Rodham Clinton’s] emails to/from any .gov addresses. … I billed probably close to 10 hours in on-call tickets with CSEC related to it :).”
CSEC is a likely reference to Clinton Executive Services Corp. (CESC), a Clinton family company paying for PRN’s services. Combetta will delete and then wipe all of Clinton’s emails later in March 2015. His mention of sending Clinton’s emails likely refers to when PRN sent those emails to two of Clinton’s lawyers in late July 2014. (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
It is not clear if this is all of Combetta’s reply. But if it is, it is notable that he doesn’t mention that he deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails off the laptops of two lawyers working for Clinton by this time, and allegedly was told to change the settings on Clinton’s server so her emails would be deleted over time as well.
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta writes an email to Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s lawyers. The email is written two days after Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address was publicly revealed, and one day after a House committee requests the preservation of all of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state.
Podesta writes, “Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That’s the heart of his exec [executive] privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I seems like they will.” “Potus” stands for “president of the United States,” which in this case is Barack Obama.
The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. Mills’ reply, if any, is unknown. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
It will later be reported that there were only about 18 emails between Clinton and Obama during her secretary of state tenure.
On March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported that Clinton exclusively used a private email address while she was secretary of state. Two days later, the Associated Press reported her account was hosted on a private server.
Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters while her aide Nick Merrill stands nearby in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on May 29, 2015. (Melina Mara / The Washington Post)
Two days after that, on March 6, 2015, Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill discusses the news in emails to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, as well other Clinton aides, including Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jennifer Palmieri, Philippe Reines, and Robby Mook.
Merrill writes, “Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term.” He suggests having Clinton take part in an email-related joke on television with comedian Larry Wilmore, “getting the human side of HRC for the cameras…” Additionally, “we’d have a set-the-record-straight piece to this that closes off that avenue of attack as well. It might be crazy, but it might also be the one-two punch we need right now.” The email will later be released by WikiLeaks due to the hacking of Podesta’s email account.(WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
However, the story won’t die out, and will become a longstanding controversy instead. Clinton won’t publicly confirm or discuss her use of the email account and server until March 10, 2015. (The Associated Press, 10/11/2016)
The Clintons stand behind Terry McAuliffe during his inauguration as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 72nd governor. (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is widely considered the best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and was co-chair of one of Bill’s presidential campaigns and the chair of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2016, McAuliffe says, “We’re best friends, I’ve been family friends with the Clinton’s for thirty years. It’s a great relationship, we vacationed together for years, we’re just very personal friends…” (The Valley’s Music Place, 3/31/2016)
On March 7, 2015, McAuliffe and other state Democratic Party leaders meet with Dr. Jill McCabe and persuade her to run for a state senator seat in Virginia. Dr. McCabe is a hospital physician who has never run for political office before. This has potentially larger political implications, because her husband is Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who runs the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office at the time.
Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)
FBI officials will later claim that after the March 7, 2015 meeting, Andrew McCabe seeks ethics advice from the FBI and follows it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and also avoiding any of his wife’s campaign activities or events.
Five days before Jill McCabe is asked to run, on March 2, 2015, the New York Times publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address, and her use of a private email server is revealed two days later, starting a major and prolonged political controversy. Jill McCabe announces her candidacy on March 12, 2015.
On July 10, 2015, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally begins, although it may have informally begun earlier.
Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)
Andrew McCabe’s Washington, DC, field office provides personnel and resources to the investigation. At the end of July 2015, he is promoted to assistant deputy FBI director, the number three position in the FBI.
During the 2015 election season, McAuliffe’s political action committee (PAC) donates $467,500 to Jill McCabe’s campaign. Furthermore, the Virginia Democratic Party, ”over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control,” according to the Wall Street Journal, donates an additional $207,788 to her campaign. “That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him.”
This represents more than a third of all the campaign funds McCabe raises in the election. She is the third-largest recipient of funds from McAuliffe’s PAC that year.
Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)
On November 3, 2015, Jill McCabe loses the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. Once the campaign is over, “[Andrew] McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” according to the Journal.
In February 2016, Andrew McCabe is promoted to deputy FBI director, the second highest position in the FBI. In this role, he is part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions are made by FBI Director James Comey.
However, that is not the only potential conflict of interest. By February 2016, four FBI field offices are conducting investigations of the Clinton Foundation. McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he resigned when he became the governor of Virginia in 2013. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)
Also, at some point in 2015, if not earlier, the FBI begins conducting an investigation of McAuliffe. When the existence of this investigation is publicly leaked in May 2016, media reports suggest it may involve McAuliffe’s financial relationship with a Chinese businessperson who has donated millions to the foundation. It is also reported that investigators have looked at McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. (CNN, 5/24/2016)
Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)
In the spring of 2016, Andrew McCabe agrees to recuse himself from the McAuliffe investigation, due to McAuliffe’s donations to Jill McCabe’s election campaign. However, he doesn’t recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation or the Clinton email investigation, despite McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)
In mid-July 2016, the FBI seeks to reorganize the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office should take the lead, while the Washington office that he formerly headed should take the lead with the McAuliffe investigation. The Journal will later report, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined.” However, the decision is implemented.
McCabe also is involved in an effort to shut down the foundation investigation in August 2016, but his role is unclear.
In October 2016, McCabe’s potential conflicts of interest will be revealed by two Wall Street Journal articles. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016) In early November 2016, the Journal will report that “some [in the FBI] have blamed [McCabe], claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)
Around that time, James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI’s New York office, will say of McCabe, “The guy has no common sense. He should be demoted and taken out of the chain of command.” (The American Spectator, 11/1/2016)
In the days following a New York Times article revealing Clinton’s use of her private server, Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers as well as her former chief of staff, requests that Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company managing Clinton’s server, conduct a complete inventory of all equipment related to the server. Two unnamed PRN employees do so.
This results in some changes to the server’s security settings around March 7, 2015. According to a September 2016 FBI report, these changes “include disabling the server’s public-facing VPN page and switching from SSL protocol to TLS to increase security.”
The FBI will explain: “TLS is a protocol that ensures privacy between communicating applications, such as web browsing, email, and instant-messaging, with their users on the Internet. TLS ensures that no third-party eavesdrops on the two-way conummication. TLS is the successor to SSL and is considered more secure.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Obama says he found about it at “the same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” This is a reference to the New York Times story that first broke the scandal on March 2, 2015. (CBS News, 3/7/2015) Obama presumably already knew she used a private email address due to the emails between him and Clinton. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)
In a September 2016 report, the FBI will reveal that the “FBI forensically identified deletions from [Clinton’s] server on March 8, 2015 of .pst files not associated with Clinton’ s email account or domain, and other server data.”
A .pst or “Personal Storage Table” file is a file format used to store copies of emails and other items within Microsoft software.
This incident will only be mentioned in a footnote in an FBI report, with no mention of who made the deletions or why. It also is not clear how thorough the deletions are. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin had a frequently used email account hosted on the server, but it is unknown if these deletions include her emails.
Platte River Network’s new, 12,000 sq. foot office, which they moved into in mid-2015. (Credit: Stuart Sipkin / Demotis / Corbis))
It seems probable an employee of Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company managing Clinton’s server, made the deletions. Shortly after a news report made Clinton’s use of the server public knowledge on March 2, 2015, Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers as well as her former chief of staff, requested that PRN conduct a complete inventory of all equipment related to the server, and one unnamed PRN employee physically checked the server while another one remotely logged on to check it.
Lanny Davis (Credit: Leigh Vogel / The Associated Press)
Lanny Davis was a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and is a longtime media surrogate for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Speaking to journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News, he says regarding Clinton’s emails on her private server, “There can be a neutral party to review all these records. Nothing unlawful-”
Wallace asks, “You’d like to have a neutral party? … [D]o you think that’s a reasonable idea?”
Davis replies, “I think it is a reasonable idea if anybody has any doubts that there’s a delete on a hard drive-”
Wallace interrupts, “To have an independent party go inspect her private email?”
Davis responds, “I think there is a reasonable idea. If the State Department asks, she will say yes.” (Fox News, 3/8/2015)
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “We gotta zap Lanny out of our universe. Can’t believe he committed her to a private review of her hard drive on TV.” (WikiLeaks, 11/1/2016)
Podesta’s reply, if any, is unknown. The Mook email will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
Clinton will never agree to a neutral review of her server. Later in the month, an employee of the company managing her server will delete and wipe all the emails from her server.
Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers at the time, as well as being her former chief of staff, sends an email to some employees at Platte River Networks (PRN), the company that is managing Clinton’s private server. On March 3, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee sent a letter to Clinton’s lawyers, asking that they preserve all of Clinton’s emails. This is because of a New York Times report the day before that indicated Clinton probably had many emails from when she was secretary of state that the State Department did not. Mills’ email to PRN references this preservation request.
In March 2015, PRN is preparing to move from a small downtown loft in Denver, to a more spacious 12,000 sq. foot office space. (Credit: Platte River Networks / Facebook)
PRN employee Paul Combetta is one of the recipients of this email from Mills. In a February 18, 2016 FBI interview, he will claim that he didn’t recall seeing the preservation request mentioned in the email. But he will be interviewed by the FBI again, on May 3, 2016. At that time, he will indicate that he deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails from her server in late March 2015, despite the fact that, according to an FBI report, “he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on [Clinton’s] server.”
It is not clear why he will do this. He will also state during his second interview, “he did not receive guidance from other PRN personnel, PRN’s legal counsel, or others regarding the meaning of the preservation request.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In September 2016, a New York Post article will reveal details of a number of emails between Platte River Networks (PRN) employees, the company managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013.
In it, the Post will mention that PRN employees “frantically sought to ‘cover our asses’ when news broke that [Clinton’s] communications were deleted.” Unfortunately, the article won’t mention which PRN employee wrote the “cover our asses” quote or when that email was sent. (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
However, the revelation that over 30,000 of Clinton’s emails were deleted occcurs in public comments by Clinton on March 10, 2015, so it seems probable the email is from shortly after that date, although this is not certain. The timing could be important, because the emails won’t actually be deleted from Clinton’s private server by PRN employee Paul Combetta until around March 31, 2015, three weeks after Clinton’s public claim that they were deleted.
In Clinton’s United Nations press conference, she states, “The laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed.” (CBS News, 3/10/2015)
Jennifer L. Costello, assistant inspector general (left), inspectors general from the State Department, Steve Linick (center), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Charles McCullough (right), are swearing in to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)
However, a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude that while it was permissible for a department employee to have a private email account and use it occasionally, it was not allowed to use one exclusively for work matters. Plus, she was required to get approval from other department officials to use a mobile device, to use a private server, and more, and she never did. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
In July 2016, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, author of the May 2016 report, will be specifically asked under oath in a Congressional hearing about Clinton’s above comment. He will reply, “I can tell you our report said that she didn’t have approval from senior officials at the department. And we don’t believe it was permitted, both under the rules, and none of the senior officials who were there at the time gave her approval or were even aware that she had a server, according to them. So, let me see if I can digest that long answer into a very short, concise statement. It is not an accurate statement.” (C-SPAN, 7//7/2016)
Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill writes in an email to Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri and Robby Mook: “[The] State [Department] just called to tell me that [New York Times reporter Michael] Schmidt seems to have what appear to be summaries of some of the exchanges in the 300 emails the [House Benghazi] committee has. He shared 2 anecdotes with State, one was an exchange that [Clinton] had with Jake [Sullivan] about some of the media stories following the attacks, the other an exchange that [Clinton] had with [Clinton aide Cheryl Mills] and [Clinton aide] Huma [Abedin] on non-state.gov accounts, but that was later forwarded to a state.gov account. Again, it appears that he does not have the email but that someone, likely from the committee, is slipping him cherry-picked characterizations of the exchanges. I haven’t heard directly from Schmidt yet but will circle back when I do.”
Top Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri (left), Huma Abedin (center), and Robby Mook attend a campaign rally with Clinton in 2016. (Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters)
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri replies, “This is no bueno [no good]. This is some kind of bullshit. Adding [Clinton campaign chair] John [Podesta] to this chain. If [Representative Trey] Gowdy is doing selective leaks, we are in very different kind of warfare.” (WikiLeaks, 10/29/2016)
Schmidt broke a March 2, 2015 story that Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state. The State Department gave about 300 emails to the House Benghazi Committee, chaired by Gowdy (R).
Presumably, Palmieri is upset that someone is leaking emails to a reporter, not that the State Department is sharing this information about the leak with the Clinton campaign. The department will later claim it never worked to help Clinton with her email controversy, despite emails such as this one.
The email will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016.
Clinton tweets a photo of her meeting with President Obama in the White House Situation Room, with Josh Earnest in the background, and unknown (right), on March 23, 2015. (Credit: Hillary Clinton / Twitter)
Clinton meets with President Obama at the White House. This is noteworthy since it appears to be the first time they met since Clinton’s email controversy started on March 2, 2015, and Clinton is only a private citizen at the time. There is no public notice of the meeting beforehand. Afterwards, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirms that it happened, but provides few details: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit. This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.” (Politico, 3/23/2015)
In November 2016, an email released by WikiLeaks will reveal some more about the meeting. One day before the meeting, Clinton aide Huma Abedin emailed Clinton, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. Those three are scheduled to meet with Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)
President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)
According to another email released by WikiLeaks, Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough sent Podesta an email on March 17, 2015, asking to meet Podesta in person. Podesta offered to drop by the White House or meet him ‘offsite’ if necessary. The next morning, they ended up meeting at a Starbucks a short walk from the White House. (WikiLeaks, 10/25/2016)
It isn’t known what Clinton and Obama discuss, but it seems probable that Clinton’s email controversy would come up. Three days earlier, onMarch 20, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee formally requested that Clinton turn over her private email server. Sometime between March 25 and 31, 2015, an employee of the company managing Clinton’s private server will delete and wipe all of Clinton’s emails from her private server. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign will begin one month later.
Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company managing Clinton’s server, holds a conference call with some members of former President Bill Clinton’s staff. This is according to a later FBI report, but the FBI has not revealed who exactly takes part in the conference call or what is discussed.
The four “President Clinton” aides who had access to the private server were from left to right, Justin Cooper, Doug Band, Jon Davidson, and Oscar Flores. (Credit for all photos: public domain)
PRN employee Paul Combetta will later say that in the days just after this call, between March 25 and 31, 2015, he suddenly remembers that he did not make changes to the email retention policy to Clinton’s email account, as one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills requested him to do back in December 2014. He will then proceed to do so, resulting in the permanent deletion of all of Clinton’s emails that had been deemed personal.
Platte River Networks (PRN) is managing Clinton’s private server, and two PRN employees are occasionally working on it. Around December 2014, PRN employee Paul Combetta was told by one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills to delete all copies of Clinton’s emails off Mills’ computer and the computer of another lawyer working for Clinton, Heather Samuelson. He did so. But he says he was also told by Mills to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s clintonemail.com email account so that Clinton’s unwanted “personal” emails would be deleted after 60 days, and he forgot to do that.
Combetta will be interviewed by the FBI on February 18, 2016. At that time, he will say that after a conference call between PRN and the staff of former President Bill Clinton on March 25, 2015, roughly between March 25 and 31, 2015, he will realize he forgot to make the change, but then will tell the FBI that he didn’t do anything about it.
However, Combetta will be interviewed by the FBI again on May 3, 2016, and his answers will change. This time, he will say he had what told the FBI was “an ‘oh shit’ moment.” Then, sometime between March 25 and 31, 2015, he deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from Clinton’s server. Furthermore, he used BleachBit to delete the exported .pst files he had created on the server system containing Clinton’s emails.
There are six employees leading PRN in 2015. From left to right they are Brent Allshouse, David DeCamillis, Treve Suavo, Sam Hickler, Craig Papke, and Dave Robinson (not pictured). (Credit: Linked In and Platte River Networks)
An FBI report will explain, “BleachBit is open source software that allows users to ‘shred’ files,” as well as other functions. “BleachBit’s ‘shred files’ function claims to securely erase files by overwriting data to make the data unrecoverable.”
Additionally, the FBI investigation will later find “evidence of these deletions and determined the Datto backups of the [Clinton’s] server were also manually deleted during this timeframe.” However, the FBI will not mention if they figured out who deleted the Datto back-ups, whether it is Combetta or someone else.
BleachBit System Cleaner 1.8 (Credit: BleachBit)
Note that Combetta was only asked by Mills to change the deletion policy on Clinton’s account, which would have deleted only her “personal” emails 60 days later. He actually immediately deleted all of her emails, including her work-related ones, and then used a program to make their later recovery impossible. It is not clear if anyone told him to do this, and if so who, or if he did it on his own.
Furthermore, Combetta took these actions even though Mills sent him (and others at PRN) an email on March 9, 2015, which mentioned how the House Benghazi Committee had requested to Clinton’s lawyers that all of Clinton’s emails should be preserved. In his first FBI interview, he will deny being aware of this. But in his second FBI interview, according to the FBI, at the time he made the deletions, “he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on [Clinton’s] server.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In March 2013, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal’s email account was broken into by the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, and some emails between Blumenthal and Clinton were publicly revealed. Cody Shearer was a business partner with Blumenthal in a company called Osprey Global Solutions that is sometimes mentioned in the hacked emails.
When contacted by Gawker for a comment about such emails, Shearer says that “the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information.”
Nothing else is known about this investigation, presuming it exists. Shearer is also described by Gawker as “a longtime Clinton family operative.” (Gawker, 3/27/2015)
On November 19, 2015, an unnamed Datto executive will be interviewed by the FBI. Datto had provided back-up service and equipment to Platte Rivers Networks (PRN) when PRN was managing Clinton’s private server from June 2013 onwards. It will later be reported that in early August 2015, PRN employees discovered that in addition to a Datto back-up device attached to Clinton’s server, Datto had been also backing up Clinton’s server to the Internet “cloud.” Some internal PRN emails from early August 2015 show some employees acting surprised after being told about this.
A graphic of Datto’s cloud structure. (Credit: Datto, Inc.)
However, according to a later FBI summary of the Datto executive’s interview, he said that PRN must have known about the cloud back-up all along. “As evidence, [he] stated the partner portal, that PRN had log-in credentials to, had a feature displaying backed-up data an options to ‘delete cloud’ or ‘delete local.’ [He] stated PN would have seen their back-ups under ‘delete cloud.'”
More crucially, during the interview, the FBI will show him a Datto document “indicating email records were manually deleted from the Datto secure cloud back-ups of the [Clinton] server in March 2015.” He then will tell the FBI that it couldn’t have been a Datto employee who made the deletions, because there would have been a work ticket created showing that. Furthermore, IP addresses associated with the deletions indicate that someone from PRN must have done it, although PRN had a shared account so it can’t be proven who exactly made the deletions. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 10/17/2016)
A Datto letter sent to the FBI in October 2015 will indicate that Datto technical experts reviewed administrative files and discovered through the device’s Internet interface that a series of deletions took place on the device on March 31, 2015, between 11:27 a.m. and 12:41 a.m. Furthermore, a much greater amount of data had been “deleted automatically based on the local device’s then-configured pruning parameters.” (US Congress, 9/12/2016) It is unclear if this refers to data deleted from the local Datto device or the Internet cloud back-up.
Although it is unknown who made these deletions, in a May2016 FBI interview, PRN employee Paul Combetta will confess to deleting all of Clinton’s emails on her server as well as the Datto back-up device in precisely this time period, between March 25, 2015 and March 31, 2015.
Platte River Networks (PRN) is a computer company managing Clinton’s private server. PRN employee Paul Combetta will later admit to the FBI that he deleted all of Clinton’s emails from her server and then used the computer program BleachBit to permanently eliminate the emails. This is despite the fact that he claims he had only been told by one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills back in December 2014 to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s account.
On March 25, 2015, there was a conference call between PRN employees and members of former President Bill Clinton’s personal staff. On March 31, 2015, there is another conference call. Combetta will later say he made the deletions at some point between the two calls.
Details about the second call are murky because the FBI only discovered it took place due to discovering a PRN work ticket about it. The ticket mentions PRN employees talking to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall as well as her lawyer Mills. But when Combetta was asked about it, according to the FBI, “PRN’s attorney advised [him] not to comment on the conversation with Kendall, based upon the assertion of the attorney-client privilege.”
In 2016, Mills will be interviewed by the FBI. She will state that she was unaware that Combetta made such deletions and modifications in March 2015. This presumably would mean they were not discussed in the second conference call, or any time after that. Clinton will also be interviewed in 2016, and she will also claim she was unaware of the March 2015 email deletions. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The headquarters of French television network TV5 Monde in Paris, France. (Credit: Pierre Verdy / Agence France Presse)
The French television network TV5 Monde is attacked by hackers on April 8, 2015. A group claiming to be linked to ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) and calling itself “Cyber Caliphate” shuts down the network’s TV channels for several hours. The group also posts pro-ISIS propaganda on the station’s website.
However, on June 9, 2015, it is reported by the BBC and elsewhere that French police have decided that attack was actually done by hackers based in Russia. The “Cyber Caliphate” claim was a false front to deflect blame. Police are said to be focusing their investigation on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear or APT 28. French media reports that the group has also targeted the computer systems of Russian dissidents, Ukrainian activists, and others. (BBC, 6/9/2015) (France24, 6/10/2015)
In July 2016, the Washington Post will report that French authorities believe the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) was behind the cyberattack. This is one of two Russian military intelligence agencies that will be accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2015 and 2016. The GRU has been linked to the Fancy Bear or APT 28 hacking group. The Post will also claim that some analysts believe the attack was Russian retaliation against France for backing out of an agreement to sell helicopter carriers to Russia because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)
Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / Washington Post)
An email written by Clinton’s Deputy Press Secretary Jesse Ferguson is addressed to several Clinton staffers and states, “We wanted to make sure everyone on this email had the latest information on the two upcoming dinners with reporters. Both are off-the-record.”
Ferguson lists the first party to occur on, “April 9th  at 7:00p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).”
The second party is to occur the following evening on, “April 10th at 6:30p.m. Cocktails and Hors D’oeuvre at the Home of Joel Benenson. … This is with a broader universe of New York reporters.”
A total of thirty eight reporters commit to attend one or both of the “off-the-record” parties. The email will be publicly released in October 2016 by WikiLeaks.
A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox. (Wikileaks, 04/06/15) (Wikileaks, 04/09/2015)
Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)
In an April 10, 2015 email, Clinton’s deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson describes an “off-the-record” cocktail party for “key national reporters, influential reporters, anchors and editors. … Especially (though not exclusively) those that are based in New York.” Top level Clinton staff are also invited. It is to take place one day later in the home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, in the Upper East Side of New York City.
The memo also lists the pre-campaign goals Clinton’s staff hopes to achieve by having the cocktail party:
Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC [Clinton] in advance of the announcement
Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period
Framing the HRC message and framing the race
Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more
Thirty-eight “influential reporters, anchors and editors” are also listed, and agree to attend the party. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)
A second email sent on Apil 6, 2015 indicates a second dinner party is also planned for “April 9th at 7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).” (Wikileaks, 10/16/2016)
A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox.
These emails will be released by Wikileaks in October, 2016.
Politico’s chief political correspondent and senior staff writer Glenn Thrush emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta a large portion of a piece he is writing, entitled “Hillary’s Big-Money Dilemma.”
Thrush appears to be asking for Podesta’s approval of a story he is writing about Clinton’s problems with building a small donor base.
Thrush writes to Podesta, “Hey sir— sorry to bother — OTR [off the record] question. Was working on a fundraising story… Been talking to bundlers who told me that one of the reasons you need to get [Clinton] out on the road was simply that the Hillfunders mid-level strategy was[n’t] getting enough traction and you had to mine the old ’08 crowd a little quicker than u thought… Also – to be a pain in the ass – I’ve heard that u were never entirely on board with the whole ‘flat’ idea in the first place. Cheers/Thrush”
John Podesta (Credit: Carlo Barria / Reuters)
Podesta replies, “I’m the sultan of flat. My whole pitch is all are welcome and grow the network.”
Thrush then asks Podesta, “Can I send u a couple of grafs [paragraphs], OTR [off the record], to make sure I’m not fucking anything up?”
Podesta replies “sure.”
Thrush writes back, “I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this. Tell me if I fucked up anything.” He includes five paragraphs from the article he is preparing to publish.
The five paragraphs appear in almost identical form in the final version of the article that is published two days later on May 1, 2015. (Politico, 5/1/2015)
After Thrush’s email is released by WikiLeaks in October 2016, Thrush will be accused of lacking journalistic ethics. On October 17, 2016, he will post the following tweet: “My goal in emailing Podesta: TO GET HIM TO CONFIRM STUFF I HAD FROM LESSER SOURCES. It worked. Nobody controls my stories but me. Troll on!” (Twitter, 10/17/2016)
An unnamed State Department official who worked in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) will be interviewed by the FBI on August 17, 2015. She will claim there was a deliberate effort to change some Clinton emails bearing the “B(1)” code, which classifies information due to “national security,” to the “B(5)” code, which classifies information mostly due to “interagency or intra-agency communications.”
This person “believed there was interference with the formal [Freedom of Information Act] FOIA review process. Specifically, [the State Department’s] Near East Affairs Bureau upgraded several of Clinton’s emails to a classified level with a B(1) release exemption. [Redacted] along with [redacted] attorney, Office of Legal Counsel called State’s Near East Affairs Bureau and told them they could use a B(5) exemption on an upgraded email to protect it instead of the B(1) exemption.”
Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy (Credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)
The interviewee reported in early May 2015 that Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy “held a closed-door meeting with [redacted] and [redacted] [Justice Department’s] Office of Information Programs where Kennedy pointedly asked [redacted] to change the FBI’s classification determination regarding one of Clinton’s emails, which the FBI considered classified. The email was related to FBI counter-terrorism operations.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
In October 2016, Fox News will report, “This appears to be one of two emails that kick-started the FBI [Clinton email investigation] in the summer of 2015.” (Fox News, 10/6/2016) The email in question was sent on November 18, 2012 by department official Bill Roebuck and forwarded to Clinton by her aide Jake Sullivan. If Kennedy tried to change the classified code on this email he must have failed, because when the email is published on May 22, 2015, it is classified at the “secret” level (the medium level below “top secret”) due to a section using the B(1) code. (US Department of State, 5/22/2015)
However, classification codes may be changed on other emails. On August 26, 2015, Fox News will report that “Kennedy, who was deeply involved in the Benghazi controversy, is running interference on the classified email controversy on Capitol Hill. Two sources confirmed that Kennedy went to Capitol Hill in early July  and argued [the November 18, 2012] email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan [plus one other email] did not contain classified material. … One participant found it odd Kennedy insisted on having the discussion in a secure facility for classified information, known as a SCIF,” although Kennedy claimed the two emails were unclassified. (Fox News, 8/26/2015)
Then, on September 1, 2015, Fox News will report that “At least four classified Hillary Clinton emails had their markings changed to a category that shields the content from Congress and the public… in what State Department whistleblowers believed to be an effort to hide the true extent of classified information on the former secretary of state’s server. The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May , was confirmed by two sources — one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department’s legal office, the designation was switched to ‘B5’…”
Kate Duval (Credit: LinkedIn)
One of the lawyers in the office where the changes are made is Kate Duval, who once worked for Williams & Connolly, the same law firm as Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall. Duval also served as an attorney and advisor in the Obama Administration on oversight issues and high-profile investigations, most recently at the Department of State and, before that, as Counselor to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. There are internal department complaints that Duval, and a second lawyer also linked to Kendall, “gave at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest during the email review. A State Department spokesman did not dispute the basic facts of the incident, confirming to Fox News the disagreement over the four classified emails as well as the internal complaints. But the spokesman said the concerns were unfounded.” (Fox News, 9/1/2015)
Kennedy will also be interviewed by the FBI on December 21, 2015. Redactions will make the interview summary difficult to follow, but apparently he will be asked about these accusations. He will say that while the official who accused him “says it like it is” and has “no fear of telling truth to power,” he “categorically rejected” the allegations of classified code tampering. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
Hill columnist Brent Budowsky writes an email with the subject heading “John, be careful” to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta about attacks Clinton opponents will launch during the 2016 race.
Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)
Budowsky writes, “I am not going to raise this publicly, but one of [Clinton’s] opponents will soon charge that she is running an ‘imperial campaign.’ If it is the right opponent, Democrat or Republican, the charge will resonate.”
He suggests that “probably 90 percent of the total media coverage of [Clinton] has a negative slant, from her paid speeches to foundation donations to not answering questions from the press.”
Budowsky also warns, “Her caution on policy has created a news vacuum that is filled by these other stories. While I don’t have the highest regard for most of the campaign press corps, they are getting dangerously unhappy about [Clinton] refusing to answer questions. If we look at a long curve of her numbers, there is reason for serious concern if trends continue, and I see nothing today that will change them unless Clinton changes her strategy,”
He also voices concern that “he’s heard from many, many Democrats and that there is something off-key about her campaign. The hope that Republican candidates are so bad she can win by playing cautious. That is a very dangerous way to run for president.”
Budowsky concludes, “There is a missing element in her campaign and it is troubling. The ‘imperial campaign’ charge will resonate when the right candidate figures it out.”
Podesta responds, “Message heard, although I think caution will ultimately be measured by what she says and what she’s for rather than how many press gaggles she does.”
Neera Tanden (center), president of the Center for American Progress, with co-founder John Podesta (left), and Hillary Clinton, poses during a gala celebrating the 10th anniversary of the center on October 24, 2013. (Credit: Chip Somodavilla / Getty Images)
Politico reports that Blumenthal was paid $10,000 per month by the Clinton Foundation while Clinton served as secretary of state, and “Some officials at the charity grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons.” (Politico, 5/28/2016)
In an apparent reaction to this, Neera Tanden, president of the left-wing think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP), writes sarcastically in an email to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, “Sidney sure is the gift that keeps giving!”
Podesta replies, “It always amazes me that people like Sid either completely lack self awareness or self respect. Maybe both. Will you promise to shoot me if I ever end up like that?” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)
On January 1, 2016, Podesta will also discuss Blumenthal with Brent Budowsky, a political commentator and longtime Clinton supporter. Podesta will write in an email, “Sid is lost in his own web of conspiracies. I pay zero attention to what he says.” (WikiLeaks, 10/13/2016)
Blumenthal sent over 800 emails to Clinton while she was secretary of state, and she often complimented them and/or forwarded them to others.
In September 2016, the FBI will reveal in a publicly released report, “On July 10, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a full investigation based upon a referral received from the US Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), submitted in accordance with Section 81 1(c) of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 and dated July 6, 2015, regarding the potential unauthorized transmission and storage of classified information on the personal email server of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The FBI’s investigation focused on determining whether classified information was transmitted or stored on unclassified systems in violation of federal criminal statutes and whether classified information was compromised by unauthorized individuals, to include foreign governments or intelligence services, via cyber intrusion or other means.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
However, according to an account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this merely formalized it. CNN, 8/20/2015)
Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered? Like whole thing is fucking insane.”
An email is written on this day suggesting the Boston Globe is working with Clinton’s presidential campaign during her primary race against Senator Bernie Sanders.
Marjorie Pritchard (Credit: Facebook)
Marjorie Pritchard, the Boston Globe‘s op-ed editor, writes Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta and asks if they still plan to submit an op-ed. The email reads, “Just wondering if we are still on for that piece. [Clinton spokesperson] Brian [Fallon] said last week it was ready and just needed approval. It would be good to get it in on Tuesday, when she is in New Hampshire. That would give her big presence on Tuesday with the piece and on Wednesday with the news story.” (WikiLeaks, 07/26/2016)
Pritchard doesn’t allude to what the coming Wednesday story will be, but the following Wednesday after Pritchard sends the email, the Globe will run a profile on the Clinton effort in New Hampshire titled, “Wanted: More Hillary Clinton true believers,” along with another story discussing Clinton’s New Hampshire town hall appearance.
This email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016.
At some point in August 2015, employees at Datto, Inc., a company that specializes in backing up computer data, realize that a private server they have been backing up belongs to Clinton. The server is being managed by Platte River Networks (PRN), and Datto made the connection after media reports revealed PRN’s role.
According to an unnamed Datto official, due to worries about the “sensitive high profile nature of the data,” Datto then recommends that PRN should upgrade security by adding sophisticated encryption technology to its backup systems.
Andy Boian (Credit: Fox News)
PRN spokesperson Andy Boian later acknowledges receiving upgrade requests from Datto, but he says, “It’s not that we ignored them, but the FBI had told us not to change or adjust anything.”
Boian adds, however, the company did not take Datto’s concerns to the FBI.
The newest version of the server is still in use by the Clintons’ personal office at the time, despite being in news headlines since March 2015. (The Washington Post, 10/7/2015)
On August 12, 2015, the FBI takes an older version of the server from PRN’s control. The FBI doesn’t realize Clinton’s emails were moved from the old server to the new one. They eventually will figure this out and take the new server away as well, on October 3, 2015.
Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)
Justin Cooper is a former Bill Clinton aide who helped Bryan Pagliano manage Clinton’s private server while Clinton was secretary of state.
In September 2016 Congressional testimony, Cooper will reveal that he was interviewed by the FBI three times as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The first time is in August 2015, the second time is in the fall of 2015, and the third time is in the spring of 2016. He will say he was never offered an immunity deal. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
Cooper appears to have been the first key play in the Clinton email controversy to have been interviewed by the FBI.
Clinton’s server has been managed by Platte River Networks (PRN) since June 2013. And since that time, PRN has subcontracted Datto, Inc. to make periodic back-ups of all the data on the server. PRN has thought that the back-ups have been only made through a device attached to the server called the Datto SIRIS S2000.
Sam Hickler (Credit: public domain)
However, on August 1, 2015, an unnamed PRN employee notices that data from the server was possibly being sent to an off-site Datto location. On August 6, 2015, Sam Hickler, PRN’s vice president of operations, contacts Datto employee Leif McKinley about this, CCing PRN employees Paul Combetta and Treve Suazo.
McKinley confirms that, due to a misunderstanding, Datto has been making periodic back-ups of the server data through the Internet “cloud” as well as locally through the device. Furthermore, periodic back-ups have been made this way since June 2013.
Treve Suazo (Credit: Platte River Networks)
Suazo, the CEO of PRN, tells Datto on August 6, 2015, that “This is a problem.” This is because the Clinton Executive Services Corp. (CESC), the Clinton family company that hired PRN to manage the server, explicitly stated from the beginning that they didn’t want any remote back-ups to be made. Thus, PRN employees tell Datto not to delete whatever data was stored in the cloud, and instead work to get it back to the control of PRN.
On August 7, 2015, Datto and PRN employees discuss saving the data on a thumb drive and sending it to PRN. Then, according to an email from one unnamed PRN employee to another, they would have Datto “wipe [the data] from the cloud.”
This is according to a letter that will be sent in October 5, 2015 to Datto CEO Austin McChord by Senator Ron Johnson (R). Johnson is chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and is conducting oversight of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. However, Johnson will be unable to determine what happened next, such as if the thumb drive was sent and the data was wiped. Furthermore, McChord will not be able to reveal that information to Johnson because Datto needs PRN’s permission to share that information and PRN won’t give it. (US Congress, 9/12/2016) (US Congress, 9/12/2016)
Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, gives the FBI a thumb drive which has a .pst file containing 30,524 emails. On December 5, 2014, Clinton’s lawyers gave the State Department 30,490 emails, sorted to be all of Clinton’s work-related emails. It isn’t clear why there is a 34 email difference.
On July 31, 2016, the Justice Department asked Kendall to turn over his thumb drive.
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. On August 8, 2015, Senator Ron Johnson (R), chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, asks PRN for a staff-level briefing on the server. A July 2016 letter co-written by Johnson will indicate that there was an “initial production” by PRN later in August 2015 about various matters, “including maintaining Secretary Clinton’s private server.” (US Congress, 7/22/2016) (Politico, 11/13/2015)
However, it seems apparent that PRN says nothing about the later-revealed fact that PRN employee Paul Combetta deleted and wiped all of Clinton’s emails off her server in late March 2015, because Johnson will show no knowledge of that in the above-mentioned letter or other letters. Furthermore, in September 2015, PRN will publicly state that it has no knowledge of the server being wiped.
Furthermore, when the FBI picks up Clinton’s server from a data center in New Jersey on August 12, 2015, they only pick up one server. But actually there are two servers there, both being managed by PRN, and Clinton’s emails had been transferred from the old one to the new one. The FBI will discover this on their own and pick up the newer server as well on October 3, 2015, so it seems probable that PRN is not honest with the Congressional committee about this basic fact either.
Additionally, when Johnson’s committee asks to interview PRN employees one month later, the company will refuse and will cease cooperating with Congressional investigators.
Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)
Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign, writes in an email that gets sent to over a dozen top Clinton aides, “As you all know, I had hoped that we could use the ‘server moment’ as an opportunity for her [Clinton] to be viewed as having taken a big step to deal with the email problem that would best position us for what is ahead. It is clear that she is not in same place…” (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
The “server moment” refers to Clinton turning over one of her private email servers to the FBI, which takes place on August 12, 2015. The Associated Press will later note, “At the time, the political aides were working out details of revealing that Clinton had directed her staff to hand over her server… Palmieri was writing other campaign aides to arrange for a Univision reporter to ask ‘a few questions on emails’ during an interview that would otherwise focus on college affordability.” (The Associated Press, 10/11/2016)
Other aides taking part in the email chain include Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson; Nick Merrill, David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, Robby Mook, Brian Fallon, Jake Sullivan, Katherine Turner, and John Podesta – but not Clinton. The email will later become public due to WikiLeaks publishing Podesta’s emails. (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
It seems likely the dispute is due to Clinton not wanting to apologize for her behavior that caused her email controversy. She finally will apologize in early September 2015, but it will be reported she did so only reluctantly and after great pressure from supporters and aides.
Clinton will be interviewed by Univisionfour days after Palmieri’s email, and she will be asked several questions about her emails. However, she won’t give any apologetic answers. (Univision, 8/12/2016)
In March 2015, the House Benghazi Committee subpoenaed records, including work-related emails from personal accounts, from ten former Clinton aides, for a two-year period surrounding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. The State Department then asked those ten people for their records. It is known that four of the aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—have turned over records, including from personal email accounts. However, it is not known what happened with the other six, or even who they are.
Clinton wrote in a sworn affidavit on August 6, 2015 that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s private server and that Mills did not. Otherwise, department officials and Clinton’s staff have failed to reveal who else had an email account on Clinton’s server or even which other aides had any kind of personal email account.
The Intelligence Community inspector general’s office says it is not currently involved in any inquiry into Clinton’s former top aides because it is being denied full access to the aides’ emails by the State Department.
The media outlet Gawker is suing for access to Reines’ emails. Bradley Moss, a lawyer for Gawker, says: “I think the headline is that there’s nothing but murkiness and non-answers from the State Department. I think the State Department is figuring this out as it goes along, which is exactly why no one should be using personal email to conduct government business.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)
The State Department inspector general’s office says it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides, after requests from Congress. In March 2015, three Republican Senate committee chairs—Richard Burr, Ron Johnson, and Bob Corker—requested an audit of some of her aides’ personal emails.
Douglas Welty, a spokesperson for the inspector general’s office, says, “We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.” However, the office won’t say which aides are being investigated. (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)
Platte River Networks (PRN) has been managing Clinton’s private email server. According to a New York Post article in September 2016, around August 2015, PRN wants to double check their behavior after media reports that the FBI is investigating Clinton’s server. “Company execs scrambled to find proof that Clinton’s reps had months earlier asked to cut the retention of emails from 60 days to 30 days.”
Paul Combetta (left) Bill Thornton (right) (Credit: AP)
On August 12, 2015, PRN employee Bill Thornton writes, “OK, we may want to work with our attorneys to draft up something that absolves us of that question. I can only assume that will be the first and last question for us, ‘Why did we have backups of the system since the time of inception, then decide to cut them back to just 60 or 30 days?’ If we can get that from them in writing, I would feel a whole lot better about this.”
The other PRN employee who has been actively managing the Clinton account with Thornton, Bill Combetta, responds that he believes the request was made to PRN by phone.
An email exchange between the two on the same topic several days later will make clear that the Clinton representatives are employees of Clinton Executive Services Corp. (CESC) the Clinton family company that has been paying PRN. (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
Obama announces that he will nominate current CIA Director Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, and General David Petraeus as the next director of the CIA on April 11, 2011. (Credit: CNN)
An unnamed State Department official who works in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) is interviewed by the FBI on this day. According to a later FBI summary of the interview, she claims that around August 10, 2015, just a week before the interview, “[redacted] from Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) called [her] and told her Centcom records showed approximately 1,000 work-related emails between Clinton’s personal email and General David Petraeus, former commander of Centcom and former director of the CIA. Most of those 1,000 emails were not believed to be included in the 30,000 emails that IPS was reviewing. Out of the 30,000 emails, IPS only had a few emails from or related to Petraeus…” She “recommended the FBI should talk with [redacted] regarding the alleged 1,000 emails between Clinton and Petraeus.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
On September 25, 2015, the New York Times will report on the existence of 19 work-related emails between Clinton and Petraeus sent in January 2009 that were not turned over when Clinton gave what she said was all her 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department in December 2014. Since that time, neither these 19 emails nor any other of the alleged 1,000 emails between them have been made public.
An email dated August 18, 2015, where Powell expresses to Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds that Clinton’s email problems show how capable she is of causing problems for herself, as well as for others and their email usage. “They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin’ record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine. … Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” (Washington Post, 09/14/16)
PRN grew exponentially in 2015, including a number of new employees. (Credit: Platte River Networks)
Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks (PRN), sends an email to Leif McKinley, an employee of Datto, Inc. PRN is managing Clinton’s private server, and Datto has been subcontracted by PRN to provide back-up for the server. Combetta writes: “We are trying to tighten down every possible security angle on this customer. It occurs to us that anyone at PRN with access to the Datto Partner Portal (i.e. everyone here) could potentially access this device via the remote web feature. Can we set up either two-factor authentication, or move this device to a separate partner account, or some other method (disable remote web access altogether?) to allow only who we permit on our end to access this device via the Internet?” (US Congress, 9/12/2016)
On May 14, 2015, a photo of PRN employees was posted to their website and suggests the number of employees working there at the time to be approximately 28. (Platte River Networks, 5/14/15)
In September 2016, after the email is publicly released, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will comment, “If I understand the email correctly, every single employee of PRN could have accessed some of the most highly classified national security information that’s ever been breached at the State Department.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
Clinton’s top campaign officials are debating a statement Clinton would make on her use of an email server in her home. Campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon writes in an email, “We should not think it is fine to find something that ‘should have been classified at the time.’ Our position is that no such material exists, else it could be said she mishandled classified info.” The email is sent to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, as well as Clinton aides Jen Palmieri, Robby Mook, and three others. (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
After the email is leaked in October 2016, Bloomberg News will note that “Fallon’s [email] came just days after Clinton gave a vague answer on the erasure of emails that her lawyers deemed not to be work-related. Asked if she’d wiped her server, she responded: ‘Like with a cloth or something?’”
Additionally, “It wasn’t immediately clear when or if Clinton delivered the statement suggested by Fallon, which would have come after months of downplaying the issue. Four days after Fallon wrote the email, Clinton said using the server ‘clearly wasn’t the best choice. I’m confident that this process will prove that I never sent nor received any email that was marked classified.” (Bloomberg News, 10/13/2016)
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server. In August 2015, the Senate Homeland Security Committee asked PRN for a staff-level briefing on the server, and got one later that month.
In earlySeptember 2015, Congressional investigators communicate with Ken Eichner, a lawyer working for PRN, asking to interview five employees in Denver, Colorado, where PRN is located. But on September 17, 2015, Eichner writes in an email, “I am going to respectfully decline [permission for] any interviews.”
In September 2015, some PRN employees are interviewed by the FBI, but details of that remain unknown. In November 2015, it will be reported that PRN isn’t cooperating with Congressional investigators at all, and isn’t allowing Datto, Inc., a company it subcontracted to help back up Clinton’s server, to cooperate either. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
Ken Eichner has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” for more than a decade and named by 5280 Magazine as one of Colorado’s top criminal lawyers. (Super Lawyers) (5280 Magazine)
Platte River Network (PRN) is the company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. In November 2015, Politico will report that the FBI interviewed some PRN employees in September 2015. This will be confirmed by PRN spokesperson Andy Boian. The same month, PRN turns down a request for the Senate Homeland Security Committee to interview five of its employees.
It isn’t known how many employees are interviewed by the FBI or who they are. The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report released in September 2016 will make no mention of any PRN interviews in 2015 at all (though there could be mentions that are redacted).
However, it will later be revealed that PRN only had two employees doing the work on the Clinton server, and one of them was Paul Combetta, so it seems likely he would be interviewed. But the FBI report will say that Combetta was only interviewed twice, both times in 2016. It will later be revealed that Combetta was the person who deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails from her server. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
Maura Pally (Credit: Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan)
Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The subject heading is “Re: This Bryan Pagliano situation.” Most of their email exchange appears to be about other matters, but Tanden makes the comment, “Bryan was the one who retrieved all our emails for Maura to read. Maybe that is why he’s avoiding testifying.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)
This email comes one day after it is first reported that Pagliano is going to plead the Fifth before a Congressional committee that wants to question him about his role managing Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state. (The New York Times, 9/5/2015)
It is not clear who “Maura” is. However, the only Maura in Clinton’s inner circle at the time is Maura Pally. She was deputy counsel on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2013, she began working for the Clinton Foundation. She was the interim CEO of the foundation from January until April 2015, and she has been vice president of programs at the foundation since then. (Politico, 5/30/2013) (Politico, 4/27/2015)
Clinton campaigns in Portsmouth, NH with Senator Jeanne Shaheen on September 5, 2015. (Credit: Cheryl Senter / The Associated Press)
On September 2, 2015, it was reported that Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano would take the Fifth and refuse questions from a House committee. On September 5, 2015, Clinton says in response, “I would very much urge anybody who is asked to cooperate to do so.” (The New York Times, 9/5/2015)
But in November 2015, it will be reported that two computer companies involved with Clinton’s private server, Platte River Networks and Datto, Inc., are refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigators. Furthermore, the Clinton campaign will fail to comment on whether Clinton’s lawyers have encouraged these two companies to cooperate. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
Clinton appears on Face the Nation with John Dickerson, on September 20, 2015. (Credit: CBS)
In an interview with CBS News journalist John Dickerson, Clinton is told that her use of a private server has never been done before, “not at this level, not solely a server just for you.”
Clinton replies, “It was done by others. And let me just say that, yes, when I did it, it was allowed, it was above board. And now I’m being as transparent as possible, more than anybody else ever has been.” (CBS News, 9/20/2015)
Platte River Networks (PRN) has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013, and since that time they used the service of another company, Datto, Inc., to make back-ups of the data on the server. As a result, they need PRN’s permission to share data.
Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, Inc. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / Hearst Connecticut Media)
On this day, David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer, and PRN agree to allow Datto to turn over the data from the backup server to the FBI. This is according to an unname person familiar with Datto’s storage, quoted in McClatchy Newspapersfour days later.
Datto says in a statement that “with the consent of our client and their end user, and consistent with our policies regarding data privacy, Datto is working with the FBI to provide data in conjunction with its investigation.”
However, according to McClatchy Newspapers, the unnamed source says “that Platte River had set up a 60-day retention policy for the backup server, meaning that any emails to which incremental changes were made at least 60 days prior would be deleted and ‘gone forever.’ While the server wouldn’t have been ‘wiped clean,’ the source said, any underlying data likely would have been written over and would be difficult to recover.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)
It appears that the FBI does get data from Datto over the next couple of weeks, because an October 23, 2015 letter from Datto to the FBI will refer to some Datto back-up data that is now in the FBI’s possession. (US Congress, 9/12/2016)
A Datto back-up device was attached to the server, and the data was backed up to the “cloud” as well. It is unknown if the FBI ever gets useful data from the cloud copy.
An inside look at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Credit: Chang W. Lee / New York Time)
Although the mainstream media in 2015 generally mentions only one Clinton email server, there actually are two in existence at this time. Both are located at an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and both are managed by Platte River Networks (PRN).
Clinton’s emails and other data had been transferred from the old server (which the FBI will later call the “Pagliano Server”) to the new server (which the FBI will call the “PRN Server”) in late June 2013, leaving the old server mostly empty but still running. On August 12, 2015, the FBI only picked up the old server for analysis.
A September 2016 FBI report will explain, “At the time of the FBI’s acquisition of the Pagliano Server, Williams & Connolly [the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall] did not advise the US government of the existence of the additional equipment associated with the Pagliano Server, or that Clinton’s clintonemail.com emails had been migrated to the successor PRN Server remaining at Equinix. The FBI’s subsequent investigation identified this additional equipment and revealed the email migration.”
The report will continue, “As a result, on October 3, 2015, the FBI obtained, via consent provided by Clinton through Williams & Connolly, both the remaining Pagliano Server equipment and the PRN Server, which had remained operational and was hosting Clinton’s personal email account until it was disconnected and produced to the FBI.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A graphic that appears during Megyn Kelly’s interview with James Kallstrom. (Credit: Fox News)
Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom is interviewed by Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly about President Obama’s comments on October 8, 2015 regarding the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. He says, “I know some of the agents, Megyn. I know some of the supervisors and I know the senior staff. And they’re P.O.ed [pissed off], I mean, no question. This is like someone driving a nail, another nail into the coffin of the criminal justice system and what the public thinks about it.”
He adds that he doesn’t think the FBI investigators will allow Obama’s comments to affect them. And he concludes, “[I]f it’s a big case and it’s pushed under the rug, they won’t take that sitting down.” (Fox News, 10/16/2015)
Clinton’s State Department jet offered phone lines for secure and non secure calls. (Credit: CNN)
While interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin reveals that when Clinton traveled a secure cell phone usually traveled with her. “We didn’t need to use it very often because she was always within close enough proximity with an actual hard line secure phone, but now that you’ve asked me, I actually do remember that on occasion there was a secure cell phone.” She ends up admitting that Clinton traveled with the phone most of the time. Sometimes it was carried by Abedin, and sometimes by other Clinton aides. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)
Huma Abedin (center) enters a hearing held by the House Benghazi Committee on October 16, 2015. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)
While interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin says that Clinton “absolutely used the secure phones” installed in her houses in Washington, DC, and Chappaqua, New York. However, “The secure fax was deployed very little, mostly because we often had technical challenges receiving the faxes. She sometimes struggled with the equipment and…”
Abedin is interrupted with a recollection of an email in which she wrote, “Don’t ever use the fax machine.”
Abedin replies, “Yes. It was so maddening to try and execute it without there being some challenge, so, you know, secure faxes, we pretty quickly gave up on. And when she was in Washington, it was very convenient to have a pouch delivered. She often had a pouch delivered anyway. She lived in very close proximity to the State Department so we would just ask those documents to be included in the pouch.” Documents were delivered by courier to Clinton in Chappaqua as well. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)
Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin is interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee. She makes the following claims in her testimony:
Huma Abedin arrives to testify at a hearing before the House Benghazi Committee on Oct. 16, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loee / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)
While she was at the State Department she was aware that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account for all her email communications. However, although many higher-ups in the State Department know Clinton used a personal email account, none of them knew that she used it exclusively.
Asked if she ever had any conversation with Clinton “about using personal email versus official email” prior to Clinton becoming secretary of state, Abedin replies, “It doesn’t mean it’s out of the realm of possibility, but I don’t recall any specific conversations with her.”
When asked if she was aware that Clinton’s email account was maintained on a private server, she replies, “I know it was an email address that was provided by the IT [information technology] person in President Clinton’s office. [She later identifies this as Justin Cooper.] I’m not certain that I was aware of what server it was on or not on.” However, she says she was “absolutely” certain it wasn’t on a State Department server.
She had three email accounts: a state.gov one, a Yahoo mail one, and a clintonemail.com one.
Anyone who asked for Clinton’s private email address was given it, and she doesn’t recall a time when a person was denied it.
Sidney Blumenthal’s memoir of his four years as a presidential assistant to Bill Clinton. (Credit: public domain)
She knew Sid Blumenthal well from her earlier work under the Clintons going back to when Bill Clinton was president, she never saw him at the State Department and didn’t have communication with him by phone or email. She was only dimly aware of how often he emailed Clinton because she would print out his emails for Clinton sometimes.
She had a “top secret” security clearance while she worked at the State Department but it lapsed shortly after she left the department in early 2013 and she doesn’t have one anymore. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)
David Kendall (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)
On this day, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, gives two BlackBerrys to the FBI and indicates they might contain or have previously contained emails from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. But FBI forensic analysis will find no evidence that either BlackBerry were ever connected to one of Clinton’s personal servers or contained any of her emails. The two BlackBerrys don’t even contain SIM cards or Secure Digital (SD) cards.
The FBI determines that Clinton used 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state, and two more using the same phone number, but these two BlackBerrys are not any of those. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A snippet from the invoice published by Complete Colorado on October 19, 2015. (Credit: Todd Shepherd / Complete Colorado) (Used with express permission from CompleteColorado.com. Do not duplicate or republish.)
On October 19, 2015, Complete Colorado reports that Platte River Networks (PRN), the company managing Clinton’s private server, drafted an invoice to Clinton’s representatives, asking to be reimbursed for legal and public relations (PR) expenses relating to the Clinton email controversy.
The invoice totals at least $44,000, but it may be incomplete. The expenses were incurred from late July 2015 to mid-September 2015. The only PRN employee mentioned by name in the invoice is Paul Combetta. In September 2016, it will be revealed that he was one of two PRN employees handling Clinton’s server, and he deleted all of Clinton’s emails from the server. (Complete Colorado, 10/19/2015)
However, on November 13, 2015, Politico will report that the Clinton campaign says Clinton is not paying PRN’s legal and PR bills, and Clinton never received the invoice. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
Her testimony took place on September 3, 2015. Only minor redactions are made. They do this without the permission of the Republicans heading the committee, claiming they were forced to do it “in order to correct the public record after numerous out-of-context and misleading Republican leaks.” This comes just one day before Clinton is due to testify in public before the committee. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015)
During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks Clinton questions about how her emails from her tenure as secretary of state were sorted and some of them deleted in late 2014. He asks, “You have stated that you used a multi-step process to determine which ones were private, which ones were public, which ones belonged to you and your family, which ones belonged to the taxpayer. Who oversaw this multi-step process in making that determination which ones we might get and which ones that were personal?”
Clinton replies, “That was overseen by my attorneys and they conducted a rigorous review of my emails…”
Jordan visually identifies the three lawyers who were known to be involved in the sorting process — David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson — because they are sitting right behind Clinton in the hearing, and Clinton confirms those are the ones. He then asks Clinton what she means by “rigorous.”
Sitting behind Clinton at the Benghazi committee hearing are, starting left in order of appearance, Heather Samuelson, Jake Sullivan, Phil Schiliro, Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall. (Credit: Getty Images)
Clinton explains, “It means that they were asked to provide anything that could be possibly construed as work related. In fact, in my opinion — and that’s been confirmed by both the State Department…”
Jordan interrupts, “But I’m asking how — I’m asking how it was done. Was — did someone physically look at the 62,000 emails, or did you use search terms, date parameters? I want to know the specifics.”
Clinton responds, “They did all of that, and I did not look over their shoulders, because I thought it would be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.”
Then Jordan asks, “Will you provide this committee — or can you answer today — what were the search terms?”
Clinton answers, “The search terms were everything you could imagine that might be related to anything, but they also went through every single email.”
When asked for more specifics, she says, “I asked my attorneys to oversee the process. I did not look over their shoulder. I did not dictate how they would do it. I did not ask what they were doing and how they made their determinations.”
After more questioning, Clinton refuses to mention any of the search terms.
Additionally, when asked if there were in fact two servers, she says there was just one.
She also says, “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”
Jordan concludes his questioning by asking, “If the FBI finds some of these emails that might be deleted, as they’re reviewing your server, will you agree to allow a neutral third party — like a retired federal judge — to review any emails deleted to determine if any of them are relevant to our investigation?”
On July 7, 2016, after concluding the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails, FBI Director James Comey will be questioned under oath by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?”
Comey will reply, “No.”
Gowdy will also ask, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”
Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”
Gowdy then will ask if it’s true she never sent or received information marked classified on her private email.
Comey will reply, “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.”
Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will ask Comey if the FBI has investigated the truthfulness of Clinton’s testimony under oath. After Comey says that would require a referral from Congress, Chaffetz will promise to get him one right away. (Politico, 7/7/2016)
Representative Jim Jordan asks Clinton pointed questions during the House Benghazi hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)
During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks her about her private email server or servers. “[T]here was one server on your property in New York, and a second server hosted by a Colorado company in — housed in New Jersey. Is that right? There were two servers?”
Clinton replies, “No. … There was a… there was a server…”
“Just one?” Jordan presses.
Clinton continues, “…that was already being used by my husband’s [Bill Clinton’s] team. An existing system in our home that I used. And then later, again, my husband’s office decided that they wanted to change their arrangements, and that’s when they contracted with the company in Colorado,” Platte River Networks.
Jordan asks, “And so there’s only one server? Is that what you’re telling me? And it’s the one server that the FBI has?”
Clinton answers, “The FBI has the server that was used during the tenure of my State Department service.”
However, in a public speech on July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will reveal that Clinton “used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways… (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)
Two days later, Comey will be questioned under oath in a Congressional hearing by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”
Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”
Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will promise to give the FBI a referral from Congress so the FBI can investigate the truthfulness of this and other comments Clinton made under oath. (Politico, 7/7/2016)
Steven Cash is a lawyer for Datto, Inc., the company that has been backing up the data on Clinton’s private server. They have been subcontracted to do this by Platte River Networks (PRN), the company managing the server. Cash emails an unnamed FBI agent, informing him of several issues to be aware of prior to a conference call planned for later that day.
A Datto hard drive, the Datto SIRIS S2000, has been attached to Clinton’s server since June 2013. Cash says that Datto technical experts have reviewed administrative files and discovered through the device’s Internet interface that a series of deletions took place on the device on March 31, 2015, between 11:27 a.m. and 12:41 a.m. The data had a date range from January 28, 2015 to March 24, 2015.
Furthermore, a much greater amount of data had been “deleted automatically based on the local device’s then-configured pruning parameters.” Cash writes that “These manual requests were requested from the Local Device’s web interface for the [redacted] agent…” (US Congress, 9/12/2016) While it is possible a person’s is in the redacted space, it could also be something such as “PRN employee.”
In a May 2016 FBI interview, PRN employee Paul Combetta will confess to deleting all of Clinton’s emails on her server as well as the Datto back-up device in precisely this time period, between March 25, 2015 and March 31, 2015. It is not known if the FBI knew of the deletions prior to this letter from Datto. However, the letter certainly makes it clear, but this will not become public knowledge until an FBI report released in September 2016, almost one year later.
Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri sends an email to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta and White House spokesperson Eric Schultz. In it, she forwards a link to a new New York Times article in which FBI Director James Comey suggests that crime could be rising nationwide because police officers are becoming less aggressive due to the “Ferguson effect,” anti-police sentiment following unrest earlier that year in Ferguson, Missouri. Comey’s claim is highly controversial.
Palmieri then comments, “Get a big fat ‘I told you so’ on Comey being a bad choice.”
There is no apparent reply from either Podesta or Schultz.
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. Politico reports that it has declined requests by the Senate Homeland Security Committee to interview five employees about the security of Clinton’s server.
The Datto Logo (Credit: Datto)
Additionally, Datto, Inc. was employed by PRN to back up data from the server. On October 6, 2015, McClatchy Newspapers quoted Datto’s attorney who said the company had permission from representatives of Clinton and Platte River to cooperate with the FBI investigation. But on October 19, 2015, Datto told the committee that it can’t answer questions from the committee because it has a confidentiality agreement with its client PRN and can only answer questions about that account with their permission. PRN gave permission initially but then changed its mind.
PRN spokesperson Andy Boian says that the interview requests from Congress weren’t “formal” inquiries, even though request letters were delivered on official Senate letterhead. He adds, “We as a company have felt like we have done everything we can to comply with every request by both the FBI and the Homeland Security Committee, and we really have nothing left to give.”
The Infograte Logo (Credit: Infograte)
Tania Neild, CEO of the technology broker company InfoGrate, helped Clinton select PRN to run their server. She declined to be interviewed by Congressional investigators, invoking a nondisclosure agreement she had with her client.
The SECNAP Logo (Credit: SECNAP)
Another computer company, SECNAP, was involved in the security of the server. They apparently aren’t cooperating with Republican investigators either, because Dennis Nowak, a lawyer for SECNAP, says that communications technology companies are governed by a law that imposes criminal and civil penalties for disclosing customer information, and that can only be waived by subpoena, search warrant, court order, or consent of the client.
These four companies apparently have fully cooperated with the FBI. But Politico reports, “While the firms have voluntarily produced some information for Congressional Republicans in the past, now it seems they’re not willing to go beyond their legal obligations when it comes to responding to committee inquiries.”
In September 2015, Clinton publicly said regarding the FBI’s Clinton investigation that she “would very much urge anybody who is asked to cooperate to do so.” However, Politico asked the Clinton campaign if it had encouraged these computer companies to cooperate with Congressional investigators, and the campaign had no comment. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
These companies will continue to refuse to cooperate with Congress. In August 2016, Congressional Republicans will issue subpoenas to PRN, Datto, and SECNAP to finally force their cooperation.
Private equity investor and former Bill Clinton advisor Glenn Hutchins colludes with Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta and her advisor Neera Tanden on what question he should ask Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on an upcoming CNBC show where he will be appearing as a panelist and Trump is scheduled as a call-in guest.
Hutchins writes, “I am going on CNBCbetween 8 and 9 AM … and expect, among other topics, to be asked about HRC [Clinton]. My plan is to contrast the Rs [Republicans] whining after the CNBC debate with her masterful performance before the Benghazi, and pose the question of who looks presidential. As I prepare, any input from you two would be welcome.”
Glenn Hutchins asks Trump a question on CNBC’s Squawk Box, on November 16, 2015. (Credit: CNBC)
The following day Hutchins writes another email stating, “Turns out now that Trump is calling in between 8 and 8:10. So I am going on at 7:45 in order to be in place for [the] call. I am trying to craft one question to ask him in case I get a chance. Any thoughts?”
Podesta responds, “Maybe given his wages are too high which he has walked back to only being about the minimum wage: ask him Since so much low wage work is concentrated in the service sector from fast food workers to housekeepers, why would raising the minimum wage affect US competitiveness?”
Hutchins then replies, “Neera: can someone please send me what Trump has said about the minimum wage?”
Neera answers, “Wouldn’t it be also good for the CNBC audience to discuss his tax plan that adds 10 trillion to the deficit?”
Hutchins finally responds, “Here’s my question: You have said that raising the minimum wage would make America [non]competitive. But virtually all minimum wage jobs … are in services industries that don’t export like your hotels and resorts. How do you explain that? fyi, the leisure and hospitality industry account for ~60% of the total private sector minimum wage jobs in the US.”
According to a July 2016 Yahoo News article, the FBI contacts the DNC in late 2015 and tells their IT (information technology) staffers that there has been a hacking attack on the DNC’s computer network. The FBI provides no details, such as who the hackers might be.
It will later be discovered that a hacker broke into the DNC network in the summer of 2015. Despite the FBI warning, the hacker won’t be ejected from the network until around June 2016. (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on this day about the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee investigation. “Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt. Basic fault falls on a courageous ambassador who thoughts [sic] Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place.” He is referring to former ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
Powell also comments, “But blame also rests on his leaders and supports back here. [Patrick] Kennedy, Intel community, [State Department] and yes HRC,” referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
When Bryan Pagliano, who managed Clinton’s private server, is interviewed by the FBI on this day, he will mentioned that he recalled finding “a virus” on her server at some point. But according to the FBI, he “could provide no additional details, other than it was nothing of great concern. FBI examination of the [server] and available server backups did not reveal any indications of malware.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Blumenthal appears on MSNBC on May 13, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)
Sid Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, reporter, and Clinton Foundation employee in the years Clinton is secretary of state. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.
The FBI identified at least 179 out of the over 800 emails that Blumenthal sent to Clinton containing information in an intelligence memo format. The State Department determined that 24 Blumenthal memos that contained information currently classified as “confidential,” as well as one classified as “secret” both currently and when it was sent.
Blumenthal tells the FBI that the content of the memos was provided to him from a number of different sources, including former US government officials and contacts, as well as contacts within foreign governments.
(In one email to Clinton, Blumenthal mentioned intelligence that he said came from an active US official, but apparently the FBI doesn’t ask him about this. The FBI report also will not mention emails in which Clinton sent Blumenthal classified information, despite him having no security clearance.)
Blumenthal’s memos contained a notation of “CONFIDENTIAL” in all capital letters. He claims this meant the memos were personal in nature and didn’t refer to the US government category of classified information at the “confidential” level.
The State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick issues a report claiming that the department “repeatedly provided inadequate and inaccurate responses to Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests involving top agency officials, including a misleading answer to a request three years ago seeking information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email use.”
Politico states the new report also points to “a series of failures in the procedures the office of the secretary used to respond to public records requests, including a lack of written policies and training, as well as inconsistent oversight by senior personnel.”
According to the report, “These procedural weaknesses, coupled with the lack of oversight by leadership and failure to routinely search emails, appear to contribute to inaccurate and incomplete responses.”
CREW’s Logo (Credit: CREW)
One important flawed department response was a letter sent to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in May 2013 after the organization asked for details on email accounts used by Clinton. State’s response to CREW was, “no records responsive to your request were located.” The report says the inspector general’s office “found evidence that [Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills] was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up.” However, according to the report, none of those officials appear to have reviewed the results of the search done in the department’s files, and there was “no evidence” that those staffers who did the search and responded to CREW knew about Clinton’s private email setup. CREW followed up last year by saying it never received any final response to its FOIA request.
The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)
Other flaws pointed out by the inspector general’s report include extreme delays in other cases, such as an Associated Press FOIA request for Clinton’s schedules that was pending without substantive response for five years.
Politico also filed a FOIA request for legal and ethics reviews of former President Bill Clinton’s paid speeches. That request was pending for four years before the department began producing records.
The Gawker Logo (Credit: Gawker Media)
Another failed response involved a Gawker request for emails that former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines exchanged with 34 news organizations. Politico reports “that request initially received a “no records” response from [the] State [Department], even though State has now found 81,000 potentially responsive emails in its official files. At a court hearing last month, a government lawyer would not concede that the no-records response was inadequate.” (Politico, 1/7/2016)
Clinton works with Dan Schwerin, director of speechwriting, on a few last-minute changes to her speech before declaring victory in the Democratic presidential primary on June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Barbara Kinney / Politico)
The Clinton campaign and MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes show All In set up a phone in interview between Hayes and Clinton, with a plan to carry out a “tax hit” on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Emails released by Wikileaks in October 2016 shows the discussion of this plan among Clinton staffers, with the apparent compliance of reporter Chris Hayes to help set the stage.
Clinton campaign speechwriter Dan Schwerin writes the script Clinton will use during the interview, but first runs it by several other campaign staffers, asking for their opinions and suggestions before the final draft is given to Clinton.
Schwerin writes, “[Clinton] is going to call into Chris Hayes’ show this afternoon to do her tax hit. How does this look to you guys?” He includes Clinton’s plan to add “a new ‘fair share surcharge’ on multi-millionaires and closing loopholes to make it harder to game the system.”
Chris Hayes has a call-in interview with Clinton on January 11, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)
When the live interview begins, Chris Hayes poses the question, “Hillary Clinton is expanding her efforts to challenge Bernie Sanders on his signature issue, the economic inequality, and I got a chance to speak earlier with Secretary Clinton and joining me by phone, from Iowa, we discussed everything from the electability question to what Bernie Sanders said today about her campaign. But I start by asking about her proposed tax hikes for the highest earners.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)
Clinton responds to Hayes’ question by reading Schwerin’s written script, almost word for word. A video is also provided that highlights the event.
Hayes will then follow up with an interview of Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, and allows a response to Clinton’s new “fair share surcharge” plan. (MSNBC Transcript, 01/11/2016)
An internal review of Clinton’s private paid speeches is conducted by campaign aides, in an effort to survey the political damage her remarks could cause if they ever became public. The review is conducted by Clinton’s research director Tony Carrk. On this day, Carrk sends the results of the review to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and other Clinton aides. His email consists of dozens of pages of potentially politically damaging quotes from Clinton’s speeches. It will get released on October 7, 2016 when WikiLeaks starts publishing emails from Podesta’s private email account. Clinton will confirm the authenticity of the email two days later.
Below are some notable revelations from Carrk’s email:
Clinton said that with everybody watching “all of the back room discussions and the deals… you need both a public and a private position.”
Clinton said she had to leave her phone and computer in a special box when traveling to China and Russia, but there is evidence she sent at least one email from Russia.
Clinton admitted it was against the rules for some State Department officials to use BlackBerrys at the same time she used one.
Clinton said when she got to State Department, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices.”
Clinton asked why the computers of a fugitive whistleblower were not exploited by foreign countries “when my cell phone was going to be exploited.”
Clinton said that her department officials “were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues.” (Wikileaks, 10/7/2016)
Wendy Sherman is interviewed by the FBI. Sherman served as deputy secretary of state under Clinton (the third highest ranking post), and as under secretary of state for political affairs. Her name will later be redacted in the FBI summary of the interview, but the Daily Caller will identify the interviewee as Sherman due to details mentioned elsewhere in the interview.
Sherman served as chief negotiator on a nuclear deal between the US and Iran, which was agreed to in 2014. In the FBI summary of her interview, she said that she was not aware of any specific instances where she was notified of a potential hack of her State Department or personal email accounts or those of other department employees. However, she “explained [she] was sure people tried to hack into [her] personal email account and the accounts of [redacted] team approximately two years ago during [redacted] in the Iran negotiations. Specifically, [redacted] received a similar email. [She] reported the incident to [State Department] Diplomatic Security who reportedly traced the emails back to a [redacted].”
Elsewhere in the interview, she said that it “was not uncommon for [her] to have to use [her] personal Gmail account to communicate while on travel, because there were often times [she] could not access her [State Department] unclassified account.”
The Daily Caller will later comment, “While it is no surprise that hackers would attempt to infiltrate the negotiating teams’ email accounts — the US government has robust spy operations that try to do the same thing — Sherman’s use of a personal account while overseas likely increased her chances of being hacked.” (The Daily Caller, 9/24/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Reagan White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. “I didn’t tell Hillary [Clinton] to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, took away 60,000 emails, had her own domain.”
On the same day, in a separate email to Condoleeza Rice, who succeeded him as secretary of state, Powell writes, “Been on the phone and email all afternoon. Hillary and Elijah Cummings have popped off.”
Also on this day, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a memo after reviewing the email practices of the past five secretaries of state. It was determined that 12 emails obtained by the inspector general contained classified national security information, two of which went to the personal email account of Powell and ten of which went to the personal email accounts of the immediate staff of Rice. The memo also states that the information was not marked as classified.
Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)
Representative Elijah Cummings (D) releases a statement in response to the OIG’s findings, and concludes, “Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for President.” (House Oversight Committee, 02/04/16)
Two days later, Rice writes back to Powell, “I don’t think Hillary’s — ‘everyone did it,’ is flying.” (Politico, 09/13/16)
The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.
The FBI’s Clinton email investigation determines that Clinton used 11 BlackBerrys while she was secretary of state, and two more using the same phone number after she left office. On February 9, 2016, the Justice Department requests all 13 BlackBerrys from Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall.
Williams & Connolly replies on February 22, 2016 that they were unable to locate any of them. As a result, the FBI is unable to acquire or forensically examine any of Clinton’s BlackBerrys.
The FBI also identifies five iPads associated with Clinton which she could have used to send emails. The FBI obtains three of them, though it’s not clear if they come from Williams & Connolly or other sources. One iPad was given away by Clinton shortly after she bought it, so it is not examined by the FBI.
Out of the other two, one contains three previously unknown Clinton emails from 2012 in the “drafts”” folder. The FBI assesses the three emails and determines they don’t contain any potentially classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company managing Clinton’s private server from June 2013 until at least October 2015, and PRN employee Paul Combetta played a pivotal role in the deletion of Clinton’s emails from her server.
On February 18, 2016, Combetta is interviewed by the FBI for the first time. He says that between March 25 and 31, 2015, he realized he failed to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account on her server, as Clinton’s lawyer (and former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills told him to do in December 2014. This would result in the deletion of some of her emails after 60 days. However, he claims that despite this realization, he still didn’t take any action. Additionally, on March 9, 2015, Mills sent him and other PRN employees an email which mentioned that the House Benghazi Committee had made a formal request to preserve Clinton’s emails. Combetta tells the FBI that he didn’t recall seeing the preservation request referenced in the email.
On May 3, 2016, Combetta has a follow-up FBI interview, and his answers on key issues completely contradict what he said before. This time, he says that when he realized between March 25 and 31, 2015 that he forgot to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account, he had an “oh shit!” moment. Then, instead of finally changing the policy settings, he entirely deleted Clinton’s email mailbox from the server, and used the BleachBit computer program to effectively wipe the data to make sure it could never be recovered. He also deleted a Datto back-up of the data. And he did all this without consulting anyone in PRN or working for Clinton. Furthermore, he admits that he was aware of the mention in the March 9, 2015 email from Mills mentioning the Congressional request to preserve Clinton’s emails.
A September 2016 FBI report will simply note these contradictions. There will be no explanation why Combetta was not indicted for lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice, and other possible charges. There also will be no explanation why his answers changed so much in his second FBI interview, such as him possibly being presented with new evidence that contradicted what he’d said before. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In December 2014, a hrcoffice.com domain was created on a different private server, and apparently Clinton switched to using an email account on that server around that time.
On February 22, 2016, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, tells the FBI in a letter: “Secretary Clinton did not transfer her clintonemail.com emails for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 to her hrcoffice.com account.” This time period represents Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The FBI apparently trusts Clinton’s lawyer. A September 2016 FBI report will state: “The investigation found no evidence Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account contained or contains potentially classified information or emails from her tenure as secretary of state. The FBI has, therefore, not requested or obtained equipment associated with Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton and Sullivan have a discussion during the House Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)
When Clinton was secretary of state, Sullivan first served as her deputy chief of staff for policy and then as the director of policy planning. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.
The FBI determined that seven email chains containing 22 emails were sent by Sullivan to Clinton were later deemed classified at the “top secret/Special Access Program” (TP/SAP) level, which is above “top secret.”
As a result, much of the interview regards these emails. The FBI asks Sullivan to review about 14 emails he sent or received “on unclassified systems” that were later determined to contain classified information up to the TS/SAP level.
Sullivan gives some reasons why the emails may have been sent on Clinton’s unclassified server. According to the FBI, “With respect to the SAP, Sullivan stated that it was discussed on unclassified systems due to the operational tempo at that time, and State [Department] employees attempted to talk around classified information. Sullivan also indicated that, for some of the emails, information about the incidents described therein may have already appeared in news reports. … Sullivan did not recall any instances in which he felt uneasy about information conveyed on unclassified systems, nor any instances in which others expressed concerns about the handling of classified information at State.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Sullivan will also give his explanation of an email in which he wanted to send her a secure fax, but the fax machine wasn’t working and she told him to “send nonsecure.”
The Clinton campaign logo superimposed over the FBI logo. (Credit: public domain)
This is according to what two unnamed “sources who have been briefed on the matter” will tell Yahoo News in July 2016. FBI officials privately meet with senior Clinton campaign officials and express concern that hackers are using “spear phishing” techniques to access the campaign’s computers. They ask the campaign to turn over internal computer logs and the personal email addresses of top campaign staffers to help the FBI’s investigation. But the campaign declines to do so after deciding the request for personal data is too broad and intrusive. The FBI doesn’t give any mention as to who the hackers might be.
One month later, the campaign will learn on its own that its computers have been hacked and they will use a private cybersecurity company to combat the hackers.
Yahoo News will comment that the FBI’s “warning also could raise new questions about why the campaign and the DNC didn’t take the matter more seriously.”
At the time, the FBI has an active investigation into Clinton’s email usage while she was secretary of state, and Clinton’s campaign isn’t sure how extensive that inquiry is. There have been media reports that the investigation extended into unethical practices at the Clinton Foundation, which could theoretically include interest in more recent communications.
Yahoo News will report that, according to an unnamed internal source, “Campaign officials had reason to fear that any production of campaign computer logs and personal email accounts could be used to further such a probe.” But the FBI insists that its request for data to combat the hacking has no connection to any other investigation, and since there is no subpoena forcing the issue, the Clinton campaign turns down the request. (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)
John Podesta, left, and Robby Mook meet at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Getty Images)
On March 2, 2015, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta emails Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, and asks him, “Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” He is referring to the New York Times front page story from earlier in the day about Clinton exclusively using a private email account while secretary of state.
Mook replies, “Nope. We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016.CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.
Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)
Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”
Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)
Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)
On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”
Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.
Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)
Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)
Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)
On July 25, 2016, the Washington Post will report that the FBI warns the “Clinton campaign and dozens of lawmakers” that they are being targeted by hackers. Later reporting by Yahoo News will indicate that the Clinton campaign is first warned by the FBI in March 2016. The timing of the warning to lawmakers is less clear, except that the Post mentions it takes place “weeks before” a media report on June 14, 2016 that hackers had broken into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network.
It still has not been proven that hack on the lawmakers have been successful. However, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D) has told the Post that his email account was hacked recently. But he hasn’t been given any indication if law enforcement is investigating or who the hacker might be. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)
Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, is interviewed by the FBI. During the interview, she discloses she had four email accounts while working at the State Department:
an official State Department email account.
an account on Clinton’s clintonemail.com private email server.
a personal Yahoo account.
another personal email account that she had previously used to support the political activities of her husband Anthony Weiner.
Huma Abedin stops for a moment to text a message. (Credit: Polaris)
Abedin says she “routinely” forwarded State Department emails and documents to both her clintonemail.com account and her Yahoo account so she could more easily print them.
She is asked about one classified email sent to her State Department account from an aide to Richard Holbrooke, a special State Department envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She had forwarded the email to her Yahoo account in order to print it, but tells the FBI she was “unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of material she received. Instead, she relied on the sender to make that assessment and to properly make and transmit the document.”
In October 2016, it will be discovered that copies of at least some of Abedin’s emails wound up on the computer of her husband Weiner, leading FBI Director Comey to at least partially reopen the Clinton email investigation. Yahoo News will later suggest that Abedin’s FBI interview offered hints that “there might be relevant material on her husband’s personal devices. But agents do not appear to have followed up on the clues.” Furthermore, “there is no indication” for the FBI interview summary that the FBI “ever pressed her on what has now turned into an explosive issue in the final days of the 2016 campaign:”
Joseph DiGenova, who Yahoo News will describe as “a former US attorney and independent counsel who has been a strong critic of Comey and the FBI probe,” will call this evidence that the FBI investigation was “not thorough” and was “fatally flawed.” He will add, “The first thing [FBI agents] should have done was gotten a sworn affidavit about all her accounts and devices.” Then they should have immediately attempted to obtain the devices, including Weiner’s.
On June 28, 2016, Abedin will be deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. Testifying under oath, she will give answers that differ from her FBI interview. When asked about her email accounts, she will claim she rarely used her personal Yahoo account, and when she did she only used it to forward State Department “press clips” so she could print them. (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)
Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff when Clinton was secretary of state and since then has been one of Clinton’s lawyers. The date and most details of the interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.
Mills refuses to answer some questions, claiming attorney-client privilege.
Cheryl Mills and Clinton at the House Benghazi Committee hearing on October 23, 2015. (Credit: Chip Somodaville / Getty Images)
The FBI shows Mills seven emails that she forwarded to Clinton which contain information later determined to be classified. Acccording to the FBI, although “Mills did not specifically remember any of the emails, she stated that there was nothing in them that concerned her regarding their transmission on an unclassified email system. Mills also stated that she was not concerned about her decision to forward certain of these emails to Clinton.”
Apparently, some of the emails reviewed by Mills are classified at the “top secret/Special Access Program” (TP/SAP) level. Because the FBI will mention that while “reviewing emails related to the SAP referenced above, Mills explained that some of the emails were designed to inform State [Department] officials of media reports concerning the subject matter and that the information in the emails merely confirmed what the public already knew. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In late March 2015, Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks (PRN), deleted all of Clinton’s emails from her private server and then used a computer program to permanently wipe them. Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s lawyers and her former chief of staff, had communications with Combetta in that time period, including speaking in a conference call in which he also participated just after the deletions were done, on March 31, 2015.
However, Mills is interviewed by the FBI on this date, and the FBI will later report that “Mills stated she was unaware that [Combetta] had conducted these deletions and modifications in March 2015.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Mills’ claim is particularly surprising considering that Mills has continued to work as one of Clinton’s lawyers and in August 2015, it was reported that Clinton’s campaign had acknowledged “that there was an attempt to wipe [Clinton’s private] server before it was turned over last week to the FBI.” (NBC News, 8/19/2015)
Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)
Senator Charles Grassley (R), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to the State Department. He asks if some of Clinton’s former top aides, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines have kept their security clearances “in light of the fact that classified information has been discovered” on Clinton’s private server.
However, the State Department declines to tell him, saying it won’t discuss the status of any individuals’ security clearance. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)
It has previously been reported that Clinton and her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills have kept their security clearances.
Alexandra Chalupa, a consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has been working for several weeks on an opposition research file about Paul Manafort, the campaign manager of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Manafort has a long history of advising politicians around the world, including controversial dictators. Logging into her Yahoo email account, she gets a warning entitled “Important action required” from a Yahoo cybersecurity team. The warning adds, “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
Paul Manafort (Credit: Linked In)
Paul Manafort was a key adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from 2004 until 2010. Yanukovych is a controversial figure frequently accused of widespread corruption and was overthrown after a massive series of protests in February 2014, and has since been living in Russia, protected by the Russian government. Chalupa had been drafting memos and writing emails about Manafort’s link to pro-Russian Ukrainian leaders such as Yanukovych when she got the warning. She had been in contact with investigative journalists in Ukraine who had been giving her information about Manafort’s ties there.
Chalupa immediately alerts top DNC officials. But more warnings from Yahoo’s security team follows. On May 3, 2016, she writes in an email to DNC communications director Luis Miranda, “Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily occurrence on my Yahoo account despite changing my password often.”
A photo capture of the Yahoo security warning appearing on DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa’s computer screen. (Credit: Yahoo News)
In July 2016, she will tell Yahoo News, “I was freaked out,” and “This is really scary.” Her email message to Miranda will later be one of 20,000 emails released by WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, showing that there was good reason to be concerned about hacking attempts.
Chalupa’s email to Miranda, results in concern amongst top level DNC officials. One unnamed insider will later say. “That’s when we knew it was the Russians,” since Russia would be very interested in Chalupa’s research and other countries like China would not. This source also says that as a precaution, “we told her to stop her research.”
Yahoo will later confirm that it did send numerous warnings to Chalupa, and one Yahoo security official will say, “Rest assured we only send these notifications of suspected attacks by state-sponsored actors when we have a high degree of confidence.” (Yahoo News, 7/25/2016)
Clinton and Henry Kissinger in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. (Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
Kissinger made transcripts of some of his work-related phone calls. After he left office in January 1977, he took the only copies with him and eventually had them transferred to the Library of Congress, with tight restrictions on who could access them. A watchdog group sued for access, but the US Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the State Department had no obligation to search for documents that had been removed, even if they had been improperly taken.
However, there is a footnote written by Justice William Rehnquist that the ruling might not apply when someone is actively trying to thwart the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In two ongoing civil suits, judges have granted discovery to Judicial Watch in part to determine if Clinton or her aides had actively tried to thwart FOIA. That opens the possibility of a judge eventually ordering Clinton to hand over even the emails she deemed personal, if she still has them. (Time, 5/5/2016)
Samuelson is one of three Clinton lawyers who sorted Clinton’s emails to decide which ones were work-related and which ones were personal. She did most of the sorting, but she was supervised by Clinton lawyers Cheryl Mills and David Kendall. The FBI mostly asks her about this sorting process. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
According to a 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, department officials alleged that John Bentel, the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat for Information Resource Management, discouraged them from raising concerns about Clinton’s use of personal email. The report also alleges that Bentel falsely claimed that Clinton had legal approval for the use of her computer system.
At some point between the release of this report on May 25, 2016 and the conclusion of the FBI’s Clinton investigation by July 5, 2016, Bentel is interviewed by the FBI. According to an FBI summary, “Bentel denied that State [Department] employees raised concerns about Clinton’s email to him, that he discouraged employees from discussing it, or that he was aware during Clinton’s tenure that she was using a personal email account or server to conduct official State business.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Cynthia McFadden interviews Guccifer in Romania in April 2016. (Credit: NBC News)
Guccifer, whose real name Marcel-Lehel Lazar, is interviewed by the FBI as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. He appears to have spoken to the FBI previously, but these may have been about other matters, since he hacked dozens of US citizens.
Around the end of April 2016, Guccifer had high-profile interviews with Fox News and NBC News. It was already known that he broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013 and learned Clinton’s private email address. In both media interviews, Guccifer claimed that he then gained access to Clinton’s private server. But the FBI will later say that Guccifer admitted in his FBI interview that he lied about this.
Additionally, “FBI forensic analysis of the Clinton server during the timeframe [Guccifer] claimed to have compromised the server did not identify evidence that [he] hacked the server.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Many of Powell’s emails indicate he’s angry about being tied to Clinton’s emails and his disdain is not just reserved for Trump. The Washington Post suggests, “Clinton’s decision to cite his use of private email as secretary of state to justify her private email server has clearly proven a sore spot — both in these emails and in previous Powell comments.”
On May 29, 2016, Powell writes to former top Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, “I have told Hilleary’s [sic] minions repeatedly that they are making a mistake trying to drag me in, yet they still try,” “The media isn’t fooled and she is getting crucified. The differences are profound and they know it.” (Washington Post, 09/14/16)
The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.
Journalist Joe Conason is writing a book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidential years. The New York Times calls Conason “a longtime defender of the Clintons.” While researching for his book, he contacts Powell spokesperson Margaret Cifrino about an alleged dinner party incident. Due to a leak by hackers in September 2016 of all of Powell’s emails from 2014 to late August 2016, the entire correspondence will be made public.
Conason initializes contact with an email to Cifrino on June 17, 2016: “My inquiry chiefly concerns a dinner party he [Powell] attended for then-Senator Clinton in January 2009, which was hosted by former Secretary Madeleine Albright and attended by several former secretaries of state.”
After some back and forth, Conason replies with his questions:
Did [Powell] attend that dinner, along with former secretaries Kissinger, Christopher, Albright, and Rice?
Does he recall Secretary Albright asking all of them to give Secretary-designate Clinton one piece of advice from their own time at the State Department?
Did he advise Mrs. Clinton to use her own email account rather than a State Department account, as he did?”
Margaret Cifrino (Credit: public domain)
Cifrino passes on Powell’s reply to Conason:
“Our records show that the dinner was in June, not January. He doesn’t recall Items 2 or 3. He also publicly and widely used his personal email account, but he also had a State Department computer on his desk for classified communications. He does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and trans-formative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home servers and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June her system may have already been set up.”
On August 18, 2016, the New York Times publishes an article mainly based on Conason’s depiction of the Albright party. Conason claims that Albright asked all of the former secretaries of state at the party to provide one piece of advice to Clinton, and “Powell suggested that she use her own email.” Conason will also include this claim in his book published not long after that.
Madeleine Allbright (Credit:
However, in Powell’s response in the email exchange mentioned above, Powell clearly said he doesn’t recall Albright even asking that question, but did remember the email he exchanged with Clinton on January 23, 2009. Conason appears to be confusing the email with the dinner party. (New York Times, 08/18/16)
Then Conason writes an article for Newsweek on August 22, 2016 accusing Powell of giving “a very different answer” several months earlier. He quotes from the email exchange he had with Cifrino: “[Powell] does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and trans-formative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home server and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June I would assume her email system was already set up.”
Conason then comments in Newsweek: “So it is perplexing for him to say he doesn’t remember that dinner conversation at all now, since, according to his own assistant, he remembered at least some of what he said as recently as two months ago.”
Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)
Note Conason doesn’t quote Powell’s response to the question about the party, and instead gives Powell’s answer about the January 2009 email exchange with Clinton. (Newsweek, 08/16/16)
Additionally, the email leak will also include an exchange between Powell and Rice on August 28, 2016. Powell writes, “I was [with] Maddy [Madeline Albright] the other evening and she doesn’t remember an email conversation or even asking us a question recently.”
Rice writes back, ” Yes — I’m sure it never came up.”
Thus, not only does Conason misquote Powell, but the alleged Albright question at her party may never have happened at all.
In February 2014, an unnamed Platte River Networks (PRN) employee created a Gmail email account and briefly transferred all of Clinton’s emails into it from a back-up of Clinton’s server made in the spring of 2013. He transferred the Clinton emails to a new version of this server, but most of the emails on this server will later be destroyed. He also will tell the FBI that he deleted all of the emails from his Gmail account after completing the transfer.
However, the FBI will later report that on June 21, 2016, FBI investigators discovered 940 Clinton emails that were still on the Gmail account somehow. It has not been explained if the PRN employee simply failed to delete them all or if deleted emails were recovered.
All of the 940 emails date from October 25, 2010 to December 31, 2010. 56 of them were later deemed to be classified at the “confidential” level. 302 of them were not in the over 30,000 emails that Clinton gave to the State Department in December 2014. It has not been specified how many of these were deemed work-related. But of the 302 emails, the FBI gave 18 of them to other departments to for classification review. The State Department decided one email was classified “secret” when it was sent, but then later was downgraded to “confidential.” Another email was “confidential” when it was sent and later downgraded to be unclassified. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The email undercuts Clinton’s claim that she used a private email account and private server for “convenience.” This email was not included in the 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over in late 2014.
One unnamed “Clinton ally” says, “If Donald Trump didn’t have some major problems right now, I’d be worried. It basically sums up that she was aware of what was happening. It’s yet another headache for us.”
RNC (Republican National Committee) spokesperson Michael Short says: “The fact that such a key email, which contained damning information about her use of a private server, was not turned over casts doubt on the notion that this may have been an oversight and raises questions about what other work-related emails may have been deleted or inappropriately withheld.”
An unnamed “former senior aide to President Obama who supports Clinton” says Clinton’s email controversy in general “gives Trump something he can hammer her on. It’s something that the Republican base can actually rally behind. It adds fuel to the fire. Anytime there’s another drip, voters are distracted from whatever dumb thing Trump is saying so it’s not helpful. The more things that come out, the more it highlights the larger trust problem [with Clinton].”
Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, says the controversy is the “continuing story that plagues the Clinton campaign. The great danger is to her credibility because this has gone on for a long time and there are various incompatible details about why she did the things she did and it reminds people that they have been for decades been suspicious of the Clintons.” (The Hill, 6/24/2016)
A sample of a meeting with donors and loyalists that were omitted from Clinton’s official calendar. (Credit: The Associated Press)
In August 2013, the Associated Press (AP) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Clinton’s calendar and schedules from the State Department. Afteryears of delays and denials, AP recently got about one-third of Clinton’s planning schedules from when she was secretary of state, and will be getting more.
A comparison of the planning schedules with Clinton’s 1,500-page official calendar shows “at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded,” or for which the names of those she met were omitted. At least 114 outsiders attended these meetings. Only seven meetings were replaced on the calendar by other events, while more than sixty meetings were either omitted entirely or described briefly as “private meetings” without mention of who attended. The missing meetings involve “private dinners and meetings with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders, and ‘drop-bys’ with old Clinton campaign hands and advisers.”
For instance, meetings with controversial Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal are not mentioned, nor are meetings with billionaire Haim Saban, a major donor to Clinton’s political campaigns who also has given at least $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. A Clinton spokesperson says this merely shows that some records are more detailed than others. But AP points out that on the same days the names of donors Clinton meets with are omitted, the names of all the participants in other meetings are given.
Five former State Department logistics officials say that some previous secretaries of state omitted some details from their official calendars, but only for special occasions, such as medical appointments, and not meetings with donors or political interests. It is not known who edited Clinton’s official calendar. It also does not appear any federal laws were broken, although there are department rules against altering or deleting information.
Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), comments: “It’s clear that any outside influence needs to be clearly identified in some way to at least guarantee transparency. That didn’t happen. These discrepancies are striking because of her possible interest at the time in running for the presidency.” (The Associated Press, 6/24/2016)
Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)
On the night of June 27, 2016, Clinton and Lynch are in separate airplanes at the international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. According to an account by Lynch two days later, Clinton walks uninvited from his plane to her plane and talks with her for about half an hour. On June 30, 2016, CBS News will report, “An aide to Bill Clinton says that he spotted her on the tarmac, but CBS News has been told that she was in an unmarked plane.” (CBS News, 6/30/2016)
Lynch will say: “He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.” However, this encounter causes what the New York Times calls a “political furor” and “storm,” because Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary is being investigated by the FBI.
Furthermore, the FBI is expected to make a recommendation to indict her or not “in the coming weeks,” according to the Times. If the FBI does recommend indictment, then the decision to actually indict or not will rest with Lynch. Thus, many Republican politicians and even some Democrats criticize Bill Clinton and Lynch simply for meeting at all during such a politically charged time.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls it “one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year.” He says it was a “sneak” meeting, exposing that Clinton’s possible indictment is already a rigged process.
Republican Senator John Cornyn says that as a lawyer and attorney general, Lynch “must avoid even the appearance” of a conflict of interest, and renews his call for a special prosecutor to take charge of the Clinton investigation instead of Lynch.
David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, says he takes Clinton and Lynch at their word that their conversation didn’t touch on the FBI investigation, but that it was “foolish to create such optics.”
Democratic Senator Chris Coons says he is convinced Lynch is “an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal… I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest refuses to say whether the meeting was appropriate or not.
New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers comments: “It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president. […] He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane.” He adds that the meeting “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said.” (NPR, 6/30/2016)
The report is over 800 pages. and comes after 15 months of investigation, at a cost of over $7 million. However, the New York Times comments that the report “offers a handful of new details but nothing that will alter the conventional narrative about the events of September 11, 2012,” the date of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The report does point out numerous failures regarding the US government’s response to the attack, but those were mostly outside the control of Clinton’s State Department, such as a slow response time from the US military.
The Times also comments that “after nearly four years and eight congressional investigations, Mrs. Clinton emerged largely unscathed. […] In the end, the biggest revelation unearthed by the [committee] came 15 months ago: the disclosure that Hillary Clinton had used a private email address and server during her four years as secretary of state.”
Clinton comments, “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s pretty clear that it’s time to move on.” (The New York Times, 6/28/2016)
Some files from Clinton volunteer Sarah Hamilton are sent to the Smoking Gun website by the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0. Hamilton, who works for Clinton’s publicity office, appears to have fallen for a “spear phishing” attack, making the contents of her email inbox accessible. The Smoking Gun says this revealed many documents, “from schedules and talking points to briefing books and assorted logistics. But the records are absent the kind of intel for which hackers were probably searching, like policy discussions and confidential deliberations.”
Details of a February 2016 email chain are revealed, showing efforts by Clinton’s campaign to keep journalists, especially CNN producer Dan Merica, physically separated from Clinton so she wouldn’t be asked difficult questions. Hamilton, press secretary Nick Merrill, and others treated Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet the same way in mid-March 2016. In sending the documents, Guccifer 2.0 also reiterates his claim to be a lone hacker not working with the Russian government. (The Smoking Gun, 6/28/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/28/2016)