Original Thompson Email Timeline
May 3, 2000 - Secretary of State Madeline Albright chastises all State Department employees for being careless about security.
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)
January 1, 2006 - Justin Cooper provides computer help to Clinton and her aides well before Clinton becomes secretary of state.
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)
August 1, 2008 - State Department rules prohibit the way some sensitive information will later be used on Clinton’s private server.
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)
The FBI will later determine that SBU information was frequently and knowingly sent to and from Clinton’s private server, but none of these steps were taken. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
September 1, 2008 - It is decided to replace Clinton’s first private server with a larger server built by Pagliano.
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)
January 1, 2009 - The State Department rolls out an easy way to preserve emails for record keeping, but Clinton’s office elects not to use it and Clinton will later claim she never even heard of it.
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.
January 12, 2009 - Huma Abedin allegedly wants Clinton’s email account on a private server and not on a server that is managed by someone else, so that is what is arranged.
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 (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)
January 20, 2009 - Obama wins a battle to use a BlackBerry during his presidency.
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.”
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)
January 21, 2009 - Most State Department officials claim they don’t know Clinton has a private email address or uses a private server.
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)
January 21, 2009 - Evidence suggests Clinton regularly keeps her BlackBerry stored inside a secure area against regulations, but she will later deny this.
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.”
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)
January 21, 2009 - Hundreds of Clinton’s emails are printed out by a Bill Clinton staffer; he may have a relevant security clearance.
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)
January 21, 2009 - Hundreds of classified emails are sent or received by Clinton while she is outside the US, including some to or from President Obama.
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)
January 21, 2009 - Clinton may regularly carry two mobile devices at once, although she will later claim otherwise.
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.
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)
January 21, 2009 - Clinton uses 11 different BlackBerrys and four iPads while she is secretary of state.
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.
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)
January 21, 2009 - Clinton’s frequently discarded BlackBerrys are sometimes destroyed and sometimes disappear.
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)
January 22, 2009 - Clinton signs a non-disclosure agreement promising to safeguard a type of top secret information.
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.”
January 23, 2009 - Colin Powell warns Clinton to “be very careful” because if she uses a BlackBerry for official business, her emails could become official records.
Clinton emails former Secretary of State Colin Powell two 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.”
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 the day 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.
February 1, 2009 - Clinton allegedly wants to use an iPad in her office but is not allowed to do so; however the iPad won’t be released until one year later.
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.
February 12, 2009 - An email suggests Clinton gets a new cell phone, despite her later claims that she didn’t use one.
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)
March 1, 2009 - An external hard drive backs up the data on Clinton’s private server, but it is unclear what happens to it or its replacement.
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.
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)
March 1, 2009 - Clinton’s personal email server is replaced; she will use the new one for the rest of her term as secretary of state.
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.
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)
In 2015, Hillary Clinton will say of her server, “It was sitting there in the basement. It was not any trouble at all.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/2015)
March 1, 2009 - Bryan Pagliano and Justin Cooper jointly manage Clinton’s private server.
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.
March 1, 2009 - Pagliano is warned that classified information could be sent to Clinton’s private server, but there is no sign he takes action or passes this warning on.
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)
March 16, 2009 - Clinton sends a department-wide email encouraging the preservation of records in response to FOIA requests.
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.
March 22, 2009 - Clinton writes about designing a system for how her documents are handled by the State Department.
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.”
Abedin replies, “We’ve discussed this. I can explain to you when I see [you] today.” (US Department of State, 5/31/2016)
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)
April 3, 2009 - Clinton’s top aides privately complain that people who know Clinton’s old email address still have emails forwarded to her.
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)
April 18, 2009 - During an overseas trip, Abedin reveals in an email that she has left Clinton’s daily schedule in an unlocked hotel room.
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.
Abedin replies: “Yes. It’s on the bed in my room. U can take it. My door is open. I’m in the lobby.”
(US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
April 22, 2009 - Clinton’s top staffers appear to be doing a favor for someone connected to the Clinton Foundation.
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.
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.
Upon becoming secretary of state earlier in 2009, Clinton promised to avoid any possible conflict of interest between State Department work and Clinton Foundation work. (CBS News, 8/10/2016) (US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
April 25, 2009 - Clinton’s top staffers provide help for a top Clinton Foundation donor due to a request from the Clinton Foundation.
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.
Upon becoming secretary of state earlier in 2009, Clinton promised to avoid any possible conflict of interest between State Department work and Clinton Foundation work. (Judicial Watch, 8/12/2016) (CBS News, 8/10/2016)
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)
June 1, 2009 - Colin Powell allegedly advises Clinton at a party to use private email, but nobody at the party later supports Clinton’s claim that this happens.
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.
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.”
Clinton said that Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email address. (Federal Bureau of Investigations (09/02/16)
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.
June 1, 2009 - A lobbyist uses his rare direct email access to Clinton to arrange more aid for the country of Palau.
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)
In a September 2010 email, Farrow praises Clinton and Sullivan for helping to get the aid package done, and jokingly promises Clinton a medal and a free vacation in Palau. (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) Farrow also forwards a thank you letter from Palau President Johnson Toribiong in April 2011, belying Clinton’s claim that she only ever had email contact with one foreign official, from Britain. (US Department of State, 10/30/2015) (US Department of State, 10/30/2015)
June 28, 2009 - A Blumenthal email suggests he is working on projects for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
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.”
Band is a close personal aide to Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton, and also works at the Clinton Foundation. Blumenthal then writes about other matters relating to Germany and Iran. Clinton speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) two weeks later. (US Department of State, 12/31/2015) (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)
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)
September 21, 2009 - Clinton’s meeting with major business leaders on this day is just one of dozens of meetings later not listed on her official calendar.
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)
- 2010 Shanghai Expo
- American Tower Corp.
- Blackstone Group
- Estee Companies Inc.
- Honeywell International Inc.
- Lewis Frankfort
- Loews Corp.
- McGraw Hill Companies
- New York Stock Exchange
- Omnicom Group
- possible conflict of interest
- Starbucks Corp.
- State Department
- Steven Schwarzman
- US government
January 1, 2010 - Clinton appears in a cybersecurity video for State Department personnel.
It will remain publicly unknown until the video is leaked to Fox News in October 2016.
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)
July 1, 2010 - After contacting a Secret Service agent about frequent hacking attacks on Clinton’s server, the managers of the server apparently never contact anyone else from other government departments for help.
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.
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.
The number of hacking attacks steadily grows through the rest of Clinton’s time in office. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
July 1, 2010 - “Brute force” hacking attempts on Clinton’s private server begin and steadily increase, but it is unknown if any are successful.
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)
July 1, 2010 - A Secret Service agent advises Pagliano to take a step to improve the security of Clinton’s private server, but the step is not taken.
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.
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)
August 2, 2010 - Clinton suggests letting someone working for her aide’s husband to send her a secure phone.
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)
August 23, 2010 - An email forwarded to Clinton apparently reveals an aide to the leader of Afghanistan is being paid by the CIA.
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)
The article will be published in the Times two days later, on August 25, 2010. (The New York Times, 8/25/2010)
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.
November 26, 2010 - Clinton will have no explanation why a work-related email sent this day won’t be included in all the work-related emails she will later hand over.
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.
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)
January 1, 2011 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains begins with an email written by Clinton.
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)
January 1, 2011 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains includes three emails written by Clinton.
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)
January 1, 2011 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains includes one email written by Clinton.
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)
January 1, 2011 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains includes two emails written by Clinton.
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)
January 1, 2011 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains ends with an email sent by Jake Sullivan to Clinton.
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)
January 1, 2012 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains includes two emails written by Clinton.
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)
- (B1) "information withheld in the interest of national defense or foreign policy"
- (B5) information withheld due to "interagency or intra-agency communications"
- 22 top secret emails
- Cheryl Mills
- classified emails
- Hillary Clinton
- Jake Sullivan
- specific email
- State Department
- top secret level emails
- William Burns
January 1, 2012 - One of Clinton’s “top secret” email chains ends with an email sent by Jake Sullivan to Clinton.
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)
March 9, 2012 - A Justice Department memo clarifies a policy of avoiding interference in elections.
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.”
The department has had such policies for decades, and they usually are restated every presidential election, but the memo adds clarity to them. (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016) (US Department of Justice, 3/9/2012)
This department policy will be tested in 2016, when the FBI reopens an investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before Clinton is on the ballot for the US presidential election.
March 18, 2012 - An email chain shows Clinton asking help from Pagliano when she has trouble getting her emails.
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.
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”
Then Clinton replies, “Thanks again. I’m back in business.” (US Department of State, 10/12/2016)
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.
March 30, 2012 - Clinton’s BlackBerry emails could be intercepted by Saudi Arabia while she visits that country.
Clinton travels to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from March 30 to 31, 2012. (US Department of State, 3/30/2012)
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.
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)
June 19, 2012 - Cheryl Mills conducts interviews to find the Clinton Foundation’s next leader while working as Clinton’s chief of staff, raising a possible conflict of interest.
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)
June 24, 2012 - Clinton’s reply to a Blumenthal email indicates she knows Blumenthal is getting his intelligence from a former CIA official.
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.”
Clinton answers, “Former US intell w continuing contacts.” (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)
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)
June 28, 2012 - Clinton sends President Obama an email from on or above Russian soil; Obama uses a pseudonym for his email address.
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)
August 2, 2012 - Clinton gets another email clearly marked as “classified,” contradicting her later claims.
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)
October 10, 2012 - Blumenthal appears to be secretly working with the State Department to influence the media’s portrayal of Clinton and the department on Benghazi.
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.
Clinton replies with the message “Passing on,” and forwards the email to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, as Blumenthal requested. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 9/26/2012) (Media Matters, 10/9/2012)
In June 2015, Blumenthal will reveal under oath that he was paid around $200,000 a year by Media Matters for a part-time consulting beginning in late 2012, or around the time of this email. (Fox News, 6/19/2015) (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016)
In early 2009, President Obama banned Clinton from giving Blumenthal a State Department job, but this email suggests the ban was not entirely effective.
October 13, 2012 - Clinton receives an email that reveals undercover CIA officers use State Department cover in Afghanistan.
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)
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)
October 30, 2012 - Clinton’s private server is down for 11 days due to Hurricane Sandy.
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)
December 11, 2012 - Clinton’s chief of staff Mills is sent an email about a FOIA request from Clinton’s emails, but does nothing about it; Clinton may get the email as well.
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)
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)
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, 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.
Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, will conclude in a 2016 report that the State Department gave an “inaccurate and incomplete” response about Clinton’s email use to CREW and in other similar cases. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 1/6/2016)
December 31, 2012 - Blumenthal starts getting paid an “eye-popping” salary for part-time work at Clinton-affiliated organizations.
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)
January 5, 2013 - Someone accesses the email account of one of Bill Clinton’s staffers on the private server used to host Hillary Clinton’s emails.
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.”
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)
February 1, 2013 - Clinton later claims she wasn’t given any instructions on how to preserve her emails when she left office.
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.”
A May 2016 State Department inspector general report will conclude this wasn’t a proper method, and Clinton should have printed and filed her emails when she left office. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
February 1, 2013 - At least one manager of Clinton’s server does very little during a transition phase, despite the Guccifer hack threat.
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.
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)
March 1, 2013 - A back-up of all of Clinton’s emails are put onto a laptop and then forgotten about.
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)
March 15, 2013 - Clinton’s private server is repeatedly scanned shortly after Guccifer’s hack revealed her server domain.
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)
March 20, 2013 - Cheryl Mills expresses concerns to Bryan Pagliano about the security of Clinton’s private email server after the Guccifer hack.
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)
May 10, 2013 - The State Department responds to a FOIA request that there is no evidence of a Clinton email address when there clearly is.
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.
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.
Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, will conclude in a 2016 report that the State Department gave an “inaccurate and incomplete” response about Clinton’s email use in this case and in other similar cases. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 1/6/2016)
May 28, 2013 - Clinton sends an email containing classified information despite having left the State Department.
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.
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)
May 31, 2013 - A device is bought to make back-ups of Clinton’s private server, but a Clinton company makes clear it doesn’t want any back-up data stored remotely.
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.
June 1, 2013 - Clinton’s server is relocated and then replaced by a new server, but the old server keeps running.
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.
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.
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.”
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 2015 Washington 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)
- Bill Thornton
- Bryan Pagliano
- Chappaqua (New York)
- Datto cloud service
- Datto SIRIS S2000
- Dell PowerEdge R620
- Equinix data center
- Equinix Inc.
- FBI's Clinton email investigaton final report
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- New Jersey
- New York (New York)
- Paul Combetta
- Platte River Networks (PRN)
- private server
- private server configuration
- Secaucus (New Jersey)
June 29, 2013 - Some of Clinton’s emails are later recovered due to a back-up of computer files made on this date.
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)
July 1, 2013 - Clinton’s emails still are not encrypted.
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)
August 7, 2013 - State Department officials find 17 FOIA requests relating to Clinton’s emails at the time the department found her email address, but none of the requesters are told about the emails.
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.
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.
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.
October 1, 2013 - Clinton’s server gets anti-hacking protection after going several months without any.
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)
October 29, 2013 - In a private speech, Clinton says 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 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.
October 29, 2013 - In a private speech, Clinton says that her department officials “were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues.”
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)
October 29, 2013 - In a private speech, Clinton asks why the computers of a fugitive whistleblower were not exploited by foreign countries “when my cell phone was going to be exploited.”
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)
December 1, 2013 - Clinton’s old server, no longer being used, is turned off.
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)
January 1, 2014 - The data on Clinton’s first private server is transferred to another computer, causing some of Clinton’s emails to be lost.
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)
January 6, 2014 - In a private speech, Clinton says when she got to State Department, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices.”
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)
February 1, 2014 - A laptop containing all of Clinton’s emails from one year earlier is permanently lost in the mail.
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.
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 laptop is apparently permanently lost. However, some of Clinton’s emails will somehow be recovered from the Gmail account in 2016, even though they were all deleted. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
July 23, 2014 - The House Benghazi Committee reaches an agreement relating to the production of Clinton’s emails.
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)
July 24, 2014 - The manager of Clinton’s server asks for help in a social media forum to remove Clinton’s address from her emails.
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?”
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)
July 31, 2014 - Heather Samuelson, one of Clinton’s lawyers, allegedly leads the sorting of over 60,000 of Clinton’s emails.
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.
August 19, 2014 - Clinton and her future campaign chair Podesta appear to discuss classified information before Podesta warns her to stop.
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.”
Podesta then replies, “Yes and interesting but not for this channel.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)
The email chain will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016. Thus, it is unknown what parts of the chain might be deemed classified by the US government.
August 28, 2014 - In a private speech, Clinton admits it was against the rules for some State Department officials to use BlackBerrys at the same time she used one.
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)
September 30, 2014 - Clinton’s lawyers are sent the rest of Clinton’s emails so they can finish sorting them.
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.
October 29, 2014 - A computer file from Platte River has a key role in how Clinton’s emails are sorted, according to testimony by Cheryl Mills.
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)
November 1, 2014 - Clinton’s emails are copied to a different server, but the FBI will never check if that server had any of her work-related emails.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org email address to her new hrcoffice.com address. Clinton began using the email@example.com 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.
December 1, 2014 - Copies of Clinton’s emails are deleted from the computers of two of Clinton’s lawyers.
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.
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.”
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)
December 1, 2014 - Clinton finally stops using the clintonemail.com domain and server for her daily emails.
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.
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)
December 2, 2014 - The House Benghazi Committee asks Clinton for all Benghazi-related emails from her personal email address.
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.
December 5, 2014 - Two out of 14 boxes of Clinton’s work-related emails may get lost.
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.
December 6, 2014 - Clinton tells Mills she doesn’t need her “personal” emails, resulting in Mills telling those managing Clinton’s server to delete them.
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.
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)
December 10, 2014 - The manager of Clinton’s private server asks for Internet advice on how to keep copies of some of Clinton’s personal emails after changing a setting to delete them all.
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?”
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.
December 11, 2014 - The person who will later delete Clinton’s emails refers to a “Hillary cover-up operation,” which might or might not be a joke.
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.
January 13, 2015 - Clinton’s press secretary has “teed-up stories” for a New York Times reporter before and she has “never disappointed.”
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 Politico over 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.”
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)
February 1, 2015 - Clinton’s staff asks the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to report Hillary’s economic policies in a “progressive” light.
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.
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)
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)
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.
March 2, 2015 - Clinton’s campaign chair privately says “we are going to have to dump all” of Clinton’s emails.
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.”
Mills replies with a joke, “Think you just got your new nick name :).” (WikiLeaks, 11/1/2016)
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.
March 2, 2015 - The company managing Clinton’s server tightens security on the server after its existence is exposed.
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.
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.
March 3, 2015 - A surge of hacking attempts follows the revelation of Clinton’s use of a private email server in the media.
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)
March 3, 2015 - The company managing Clinton’s private server fails to fully test its security vulnerabilities.
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.”