Email Timeline Post-Election 2016
March 15, 2015 - A Wikileaks Podesta email reveals Clinton campaign officials discussing the audacity of congressional members asking Hillary to release her emails and how to stop it

In March 2015, the Clinton campaign brass wondered whether they could recruit a friendly lawmaker to question House Benghazi investigators’ attempts to force Clinton to release her emails.

(Clinton pollster Joel Benenson writes,)

The problem? No one wanted to do it. They considered Elijah Cummings but then suggested they choose an “HRC Warrior,” as Podesta put it. “Who is her most fearsome House ally?” he wondered.

Mook suggested Nita Lowey, Steve Israel or “SJL” – apparently Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

As it turned out, none of them seemed eager.

“After i suggested this earlier in the week i talked to few people on the Hill,” wrote Jim Margolis, another Clinton strategist. “The challenge is getting a member of congress to do it… because they think they will be called upon to make the same disclosure. I pointed out that they don’t believe private emails should be made public, so there is no hypocrisy. But there is nervousness just the same.”

“Maybe a retiring senator like Mikulski. I’ll keep working it, too,” he said. (Read more: Politico, 10/07/2016)  (Archive)

March 19, 2015 - Hillary Clinton: ‘We really need camps for adults.’

“The likely 2016 presidential candidate who believes it takes a village to raise a child is now proposing “camps for adults.” Hillary Clinton is worried about America’s “fun deficit,” not our deficit-deficit, and told a group gathered for a speech that “We really need camps for adults.”

As I have gotten older, I have decided we really need camps for adults. And we need adults camps that you all run. Really. None of the serious stuff. None of the life-challenging stuff… more fun. I think we have a huge fun deficit in America. And we need to figure out how to fill that fun deficit, certainly for our kids but also for the rest of us. We need some [garbled] from time to time, maybe some enrichment, certainly some time outdoors. Maybe actually spending time with people that we didn’t know before.

This bizarre manifestation of Clinton’s well-known collective impulses has already been greeted by plenty of Twitter mockery. (Breitbart, 3/19/2015)  (Archive)

 

March 19, 2015 - Ukrainian oligarch, Victor Pinchuk's ties to Serhiy Leshchenko and the Clintons

On April 11, 2019, Greg Craig, Obama’s former White House counsel and a partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, was indicted for lying about and concealing his work in Ukraine. Craig, who reportedly worked closely with Manafort, was paid more than $4 million to produce an “independent” report justifying Ukraine’s trial and conviction of the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Notably, Craig’s name was not included in the “Black Ledger” leak from Leshchenko and Sytnyk.

The indictment notes that “a wealthy private Ukrainian” was fully funding the report. In a recent YouTube video, Craig publicly stated that “it was Doug Schoen who brought this project to me, and he told me he was acting on behalf of Victor Pinchuk, who was a pro-western, Ukrainian businessman who helped to fund the project.”

“The Firm understood that its work was to be largely funded by Victor Pinchuk,” Skadden wrote in recent FARA filings.

Pinchuk put out a statement on Jan. 21, denying any financial involvement:

“Mr. Pinchuk was not the source of any funds used to pay fees of Skadden in producing their report into the trial and conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko. He was in no way responsible for those costs. Neither Mr. Pinchuk nor companies affiliated with him have ever been a client of Skadden. Mr. Pinchuk and his team had no role in the work done by Skadden, including in the preparation or dissemination of the Skadden report.”

Pinchuk is the founder of Interpipe, a steel pipe manufacturer. He owns Credit Dnipro Bank, several ferroalloy plants and a media empire. He is married to Elena Pinchuk, the daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

Pinchuk has been accused of profiting immensely from the purchase of state-owned assets at severely below-market prices through political favoritism.

Between April 4 and April 12, 2016, Ukrainian parliamentarian Olga Bielkova had four meetings, with Samuel Charap (International Institute for Strategic Studies), Liz Zentos (National Security Council), Michael Kimmage (State Department), and David Kramer (McCain Institute).

FARA documents filed by Schoen showed that he was paid $40,000 a month by Pinchuk (page 5)—in part to arrange these meetings.

Schoen attempted to arrange another 72 meetings with congressmen and media (page 10). It’s unknown how many of these meetings, if any, took place.

In September 2013, Pinchuk pays Clinton to appear at a YES event promoting Ukrainian membership of the European Union, break with Russia, and regime change in Kiev and Moscow. (Credit: Pinchuk Foundation)

Schoen also helped Pinchuk establish ties with the Clinton Foundation. The Wall Street Journal reported on March 19, 2015, how Schoen connected Pinchuk with senior Clinton State Department staffers in order to pressure former Ukrainian President Yanukovych to release Tymoshenko–a political rival of Yanukovych–from jail. And the relationship between Pinchuk and the Clintons continued. According to the Kyiv Post:

“Clinton and her husband Bill, the 42nd U.S. president, have been paid speakers at the annual YES and other Pinchuk events. They describe themselves as friends of Pinchuk, who is known internationally as a businessman and philanthropist.”

Although exact numbers aren’t clear, reports filed by the Clinton Foundation indicate that as much as $25 million of Pinchuk’s donations went to the Clinton organization.

Pinchuk also has ties to Leshchenko, the Ukrainian MP who leaked the information on Manafort. Leshchenko had been a frequent speaker at the Ukrainian Breakfast, a traditional private event held at Davos, Switzerland, and hosted by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and has also been pictured with Pinchuk at multiple other events.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 4/26/2019)

Clinton meets Obama at the White House, their first meeting since Clinton’s email controversy began.

Clinton tweets a photo of her meeting with President Obama in the White House Situation Room, with Josh Earnest in the background, and unknown (right), on March 23, 2015. (Credit: Hillary Clinton / Twitter)

Clinton meets with President Obama at the White House. This is noteworthy since it appears to be the first time they met since Clinton’s email controversy started on March 2, 2015, and Clinton is only a private citizen at the time. There is no public notice of the meeting beforehand. Afterwards, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirms that it happened, but provides few details: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit. This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.” (Politico, 3/23/2015)

In November 2016, an email released by WikiLeaks will reveal some more about the meeting. One day before the meeting, Clinton aide Huma Abedin emailed Clinton, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. Those three are scheduled to meet with Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

According to another email released by WikiLeaks, Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough sent Podesta an email on March 17, 2015, asking to meet Podesta in person. Podesta offered to drop by the White House or meet him ‘offsite’ if necessary. The next morning, they ended up meeting at a Starbucks a short walk from the White House. (WikiLeaks, 10/25/2016)

It isn’t known what Clinton and Obama discuss, but it seems probable that Clinton’s email controversy would come up. Three days earlier, on March 20, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee formally requested that Clinton turn over her private email server. Sometime between March 25 and 31, 2015, an employee of the company managing Clinton’s private server will delete and wipe all of Clinton’s emails from her private server. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign will begin one month later.

A conference call precedes the permanent deletion of Clinton's "personal" emails.

Platte River Networks (PRN), the computer company managing Clinton’s server, holds a conference call with some members of former President Bill Clinton’s staff. This is according to a later FBI report, but the FBI has not revealed who exactly takes part in the conference call or what is discussed.

The four “President Clinton” aides who had access to the private server were from left to right, Justin Cooper, Doug Band, Jon Davidson, and Oscar Flores. (Credit for all photos: public domain)

PRN employee Paul Combetta will later say that in the days just after this call, between March 25 and 31, 2015, he suddenly remembers that he did not make changes to the email retention policy to Clinton’s email account, as one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills requested him to do back in December 2014. He will then proceed to do so, resulting in the permanent deletion of all of Clinton’s emails that had been deemed personal.

PRN only has two employees involved in managing Clinton’s server, so it seems highly likely Combetta takes part in the conference call. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 26, 2015 - In Paul Combetta's preparation to delete and then transfer the rest of Hillary Clinton’s emails, he first sent them to a dummy Gmail address with a name similar to a business in China

Paul Combetta (Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

(…) “Virtually every email which was sent to and received on the Clinton-email server was forwarded to “carterheavyindustries@gmail.com,” which raised a concern that a foreign actor gained access to Clinton’s emails after an intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) investigator searched Google for “Carter Heavy Industries” and came up with  a result for Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Co., Ltd, according to the documents (pdf).

(…) Frank Rucker, the ICIG investigator, and Jeanette McMillian, an ICIG attorney, told the FBI about the anomaly on Feb. 18, 2016, at a meeting which included Peter Strzok, who had just taken over as the section chief heading the investigation. Rucker told Congress that Strzok was “aloof and dismissive” and didn’t ask many questions.

(…) McMillian told Congress that her understanding of the Carter Heavy Industries email address was that it was a “drop box” to which the emails from the Clinton server were sent in real time.

“Even if you didn’t address an email to this address, the email went to it anyway,” McMillian said.

Rucker told Congress that it appeared that the Carter Heavy Industries email was inserted into Clinton’s server “based on his reading of the metadata.” Rucker was also concerned because he reviewed an email in which Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, discuss how Weiner’s account was possibly hacked by a political opponent who ended up receiving copies of all of his emails.

The investigator told Congress that it appears that the Carter Heavy Industries email was inserted into the routing table of Clinton’s server, but that he could only be sure if he examined the server, which he did not have access to. There could be an alternative explanation to why the email address was in virtually every message, Rucker said.

McMillian and Rucker were interviewed by the Senate Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees on Dec. 4, 2018, in response to media reports that cited anonymous sources claiming that China gained access to Clinton’s emails. The committees released unclassified versions of those transcripts along with several sets of supporting documents on Aug. 14.

The documents include several emails from Clinton and her staffers with message metadata showing the Carter Heavy Industries email address as a recipient.

Inspector General’s Inquiry

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was aware of the ICIG’s referral to the FBI but did not address it in his 568-page report on the FBI and DOJ handling of the Clinton-email inquiry. Horowitz had promised Congress a year ago to look into and report on what the FBI did to investigate the matter. The newly released documents include the results of Horowitz’s inquiry in the form of an April 9, 2019, letter to senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

In the letter, Horowitz and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson write that the Carter Heavy Industries email account was created by Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta, who managed Clinton’s email server. Combetta allegedly created the Carter Heavy Industries email on Aug. 20, 2012. Combetta then used the email as “dummy email” in order to transfer messages archived on Clinton’s second private server to the Platte River Networks server in early 2014.

What Combetta did with the email account between 2012 and 2014 and who else had access to it before and after the transfer remains a mystery. Neither the DOJ nor the ICIG inspector generals provide any details on whether the FBI ever examined the matter.

Combetta’s use of this email account is addressed in Horowitz’s report, although it is referred to as a “dummy email” instead of revealing the actual address. Horowitz and Atkinson do not explain how Combetta came to pick the email address. Combetta’s lawyer told Horowitz that the Carter Heavy Industries email was a made-up name and that Combetta had no connection to Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Co., Ltd.

Combetta, through an attorney, refused to be interviewed by the DOJ inspector general about the matter, according to the letter. He also said he had no documents responsive to subpoena about the issue.

Horowitz wrote that his office did not find any evidence to contradict the claims of Combetta’s lawyer.

“Accordingly, other than the similarity discussed above between the dummy email address and the name of a Chinese company identified by the former ICIG analyst and former Inspector General McCullough during a Google search, the ICIG and the DOJ OIG are unaware of any information that links Combetta or the dummy email address that he created with the Chinese government or a Chinese-owned company,” Horowitz and Atkinson wrote.

(Read more: The Epoch Times, 8/15/2019)

(Timeline editor’s note: There is a question as to whether Carter Heavy Industry is actually a Chinese owned company due to a subtitle on their website stating they are a solely owned U.S. company, so it is most likely a branch of Carter operating in Shandong. Also of note, Shandong Carter’s real business email address is not a Gmail address.)

(A snippet from Shandong Carter Heavy Industry’s website specifying they are a U.S. company.)

A Platte River Networks employee allegedly deletes all of Clinton's emails and then wipes them to prevent their recovery, despite apparently having no clear order to do so.

Platte River Networks (PRN) is managing Clinton’s private server, and two PRN employees are occasionally working on it. Around December 2014, PRN employee Paul Combetta was told by one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills to delete all copies of Clinton’s emails off Mills’ computer and the computer of another lawyer working for Clinton, Heather Samuelson. He did so. But he says he was also told by Mills to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s clintonemail.com email account so that Clinton’s unwanted “personal” emails would be deleted after 60 days, and he forgot to do that.

Combetta will be interviewed by the FBI on February 18, 2016. At that time, he will say that after a conference call between PRN and the staff of former President Bill Clinton on March 25, 2015, roughly between March 25 and 31, 2015, he will realize he forgot to make the change, but then will tell the FBI that he didn’t do anything about it.

However, Combetta will be interviewed by the FBI again on May 3, 2016, and his answers will change. This time, he will say he had what told the FBI was “an ‘oh shit’ moment.” Then, sometime between March 25 and 31, 2015, he deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from Clinton’s server. Furthermore, he used BleachBit to delete the exported .pst files he had created on the server system containing Clinton’s emails.

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There are six employees leading PRN in 2015. From left to right they are Brent Allshouse, David DeCamillis, Treve Suavo, Sam Hickler, Craig Papke, and Dave Robinson (not pictured). (Credit: Linked In and Platte River Networks)

An FBI report will explain, “BleachBit is open source software that allows users to ‘shred’ files,” as well as other functions. “BleachBit’s ‘shred files’ function claims to securely erase files by overwriting data to make the data unrecoverable.”

Additionally, the FBI investigation will later find “evidence of these deletions and determined the Datto backups of the [Clinton’s] server were also manually deleted during this timeframe.” However, the FBI will not mention if they figured out who deleted the Datto back-ups, whether it is Combetta or someone else.

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BleachBit System Cleaner 1.8 (Credit: BleachBit)

Note that Combetta was only asked by Mills to change the deletion policy on Clinton’s account, which would have deleted only her “personal” emails 60 days later. He actually immediately deleted all of her emails, including her work-related ones, and then used a program to make their later recovery impossible. It is not clear if anyone told him to do this, and if so who, or if he did it on his own.

Furthermore, Combetta took these actions even though Mills sent him (and others at PRN) an email on March 9, 2015, which mentioned how the House Benghazi Committee had requested to Clinton’s lawyers that all of Clinton’s emails should be preserved. In his first FBI interview, he will deny being aware of this. But in his second FBI interview, according to the FBI, at the time he made the deletions, “he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on [Clinton’s] server.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

There allegedly is a “massive” FBI investigation of Guccifer’s hack into Blumenthal’s emails.

Cody Shearer (Credit: Vimeo)

Cody Shearer (Credit: Vimeo)

In March 2013, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal’s email account was broken into by the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, and some emails between Blumenthal and Clinton were publicly revealed. Cody Shearer was a business partner with Blumenthal in a company called Osprey Global Solutions that is sometimes mentioned in the hacked emails.

When contacted by Gawker for a comment about such emails, Shearer says that “the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information.”

Nothing else is known about this investigation, presuming it exists. Shearer is also described by Gawker as “a longtime Clinton family operative.” (Gawker, 3/27/2015)

March 30, 2015 - Ukraine oligarch Victor Pinchuk who donated $29 million to Clinton Foundation demands a meeting with Bill Clinton to discuss the Maidan failure

“Wikileaks has just released another 1,135 John Podesta emails, bringing the total to 43,104 with seven days left until the November 8th US elections.

The latest release shows more Clinton Foundation pay-to-play arrangements, but not with Morocco kings or Saudi princes, but with a Ukraine oligarch.

Victor Pinchuk and his wife Elena Franchuk sign a $2.5 million cooperation agreement to fight AIDS in Ukraine with Bill Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

In an email from President Clinton’s Director of Foreign Policy, Amitabh Desai, to Hillary Clinton’s inner circle (including Huma Abedin and John Podesta), we see the Clinton Foundation’s biggest donor, billionaire Victor Pinchuk, push Hillary Clinton staff to either set up a “private” meeting with Bill Clinton (aka WJC), or “bring together a few western leaders to show support for Ukraine”…with WJC present at the event to show his commitment to “the county [sic] and for him [Victor Pinchuk].”

We are betting that Pinchuk was planning on leveraging Bill Clinton’s presence to display that the future President (via her husband) was fully behind the oligarch and his faltering plan to pivot west.

The email exchange paints a picture of a Ukraine oligarch “relentlessly following up” to expose his connection to the Clinton family, given that (as Desai wrote) Pinchuk “is under Putin’s heel right now, feeling a great degree of pressure and pain for his many years of nurturing stronger ties with the West.”

It’s important to note that Pinchuk was a big supporter of the Maidan coup…a foreign policy debacle that Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (another Hillary Clinton state department protege) helped spearhead.

From 2009 up to 2013 (the year the Ukrainian coup erupted), the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in Kiev.

Via Wikileaks…

(Read more: The Duran, November 2016)

An Internet cloud back-up of Clinton's server is deleted at this time, despite the company managing the server seemingly not knowing the cloud copy exists.

On November 19, 2015, an unnamed Datto executive will be interviewed by the FBI. Datto had provided back-up service and equipment to Platte Rivers Networks (PRN) when PRN was managing Clinton’s private server from June 2013 onwards. It will later be reported that in early August 2015, PRN employees discovered that in addition to a Datto back-up device attached to Clinton’s server, Datto had been also backing up Clinton’s server to the Internet “cloud.” Some internal PRN emails from early August 2015 show some employees acting surprised after being told about this.

A graphic of Datto's cloud structure. (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

A graphic of Datto’s cloud structure. (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

However, according to a later FBI summary of the Datto executive’s interview, he said that PRN must have known about the cloud back-up all along. “As evidence, [he] stated the partner portal, that PRN had log-in credentials to, had a feature displaying backed-up data an options to ‘delete cloud’ or ‘delete local.’ [He] stated PN would have seen their back-ups under ‘delete cloud.'”

More crucially, during the interview, the FBI will show him a Datto document “indicating email records were manually deleted from the Datto secure cloud back-ups of the [Clinton] server in March 2015.” He then will tell the FBI that it couldn’t have been a Datto employee who made the deletions, because there would have been a work ticket created showing that. Furthermore, IP addresses associated with the deletions indicate that someone from PRN must have done it, although PRN had a shared account so it can’t be proven who exactly made the deletions. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 10/17/2016)

A Datto letter sent to the FBI in October 2015 will indicate that Datto technical experts reviewed administrative files and discovered through the device’s Internet interface that a series of deletions took place on the device on March 31, 2015, between 11:27 a.m. and 12:41 a.m. Furthermore, a much greater amount of data had been “deleted automatically based on the local device’s then-configured pruning parameters.” (US Congress, 9/12/2016) It is unclear if this refers to data deleted from the local Datto device or the Internet cloud back-up.

Although it is unknown who made these deletions, in a May 2016 FBI interview, PRN employee Paul Combetta will confess to deleting all of Clinton’s emails on her server as well as the Datto back-up device in precisely this time period, between March 25, 2015 and March 31, 2015.

A Platte River Networks employee talks to two of Clinton's lawyers shortly after deleting and wiping all of Clinton's emails from her server.

Platte River Networks (PRN) is a computer company managing Clinton’s private server. PRN employee Paul Combetta will later admit to the FBI that he deleted all of Clinton’s emails from her server and then used the computer program BleachBit to permanently eliminate the emails. This is despite the fact that he claims he had only been told by one of Clinton’s lawyers (and her former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills back in December 2014 to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s account.

On March 25, 2015, there was a conference call between PRN employees and members of former President Bill Clinton’s personal staff. On March 31, 2015, there is another conference call. Combetta will later say he made the deletions at some point between the two calls.

Details about the second call are murky because the FBI only discovered it took place due to discovering a PRN work ticket about it. The ticket mentions PRN employees talking to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall as well as her lawyer Mills. But when Combetta was asked about it, according to the FBI, “PRN’s attorney advised [him] not to comment on the conversation with Kendall, based upon the assertion of the attorney-client privilege.”

In 2016, Mills will be interviewed by the FBI. She will state that she was unaware that Combetta made such deletions and modifications in March 2015. This presumably would mean they were not discussed in the second conference call, or any time after that. Clinton will also be interviewed in 2016, and she will also claim she was unaware of the March 2015 email deletions. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

April 7, 2015 - A Podesta email released by Wikileaks reveals the Clinton campaign's 'Pied-Piper' strategy against Trump

Donald Trump stands with Hillary Clinton before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Hempstead, N.Y. (Credit: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

(…) So to take Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up. Shortly after her kickoff, top aides organized a strategy call, whose agenda included a memo (see attachment) to the Democratic National Committee: “This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field,” it read.

“The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,” read the memo.

 

(A clip from the Pied-Piper strategy memo)

“Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to:
• Ted Cruz
• Donald Trump
• Ben Carson
We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.”

While the campaign also kept a close eye on Rubio, monitoring his announcement speech and tightly designing the tweeted responses to his moves, Clinton’s team in Brooklyn was delightedly puzzled by Trump’s shift into the pole position that July after attacking John McCain by declaring, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Eleven days after those comments about McCain, Clinton aides sought to push the plan even further: An agenda item for top aides’ message planning meeting read, “How do we prevent Bush from bettering himself/how do we maximize Trump and others?”

They wouldn’t have to work very hard at it though; the debates were the beginning of the end for the candidate Clinton’s team always thought she would face on Election Day. The day after the first debate in August, Clinton confidante Neera Tanden emailed Podesta her analysis: “Bush sucked. I’m glad Hillary is obsessed with the one candidate who would be easiest to beat 🙂 Besides Trump, of course.”

“Just like everybody, I thought this was a Bush against a Clinton, that’s all it was going to be,” said former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. “When I saw the first set of debates, I would turn them on in an entertainment mode to see what Donald’s going to say today. It was funny.” (Read more: Politico, 11/07/2016)  (Archive)

A hacking attack on a French TV network is blamed on a Russian group that will later be accused of hacking political entities in the US.

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The headquarters of French television network TV5 Monde in Paris, France. (Credit: Pierre Verdy / Agence France Presse)

The French television network TV5 Monde is attacked by hackers on April 8, 2015. A group claiming to be linked to ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) and calling itself “Cyber Caliphate” shuts down the network’s TV channels for several hours. The group also posts pro-ISIS propaganda on the station’s website.

However, on June 9, 2015, it is reported by the BBC and elsewhere that French police have decided that attack was actually done by hackers based in Russia. The “Cyber Caliphate” claim was a false front to deflect blame. Police are said to be focusing their investigation on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear or APT 28. French media reports that the group has also targeted the computer systems of Russian dissidents, Ukrainian activists, and others. (BBC, 6/9/2015) (France24, 6/10/2015)

In July 2016, the Washington Post will report that French authorities believe the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) was behind the cyberattack. This is one of two Russian military intelligence agencies that will be accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2015 and 2016. The GRU has been linked to the Fancy Bear or APT 28 hacking group. The Post will also claim that some analysts believe the attack was Russian retaliation against France for backing out of an agreement to sell helicopter carriers to Russia because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)

 

John Podesta hosts an "off the record" dinner for 20 reporters who will be "on the bus" with Clinton's campaign.

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / Washington Post)

An email written by Clinton’s Deputy Press Secretary Jesse Ferguson is addressed to several Clinton staffers and states, “We wanted to make sure everyone on this email had the latest information on the two upcoming dinners with reporters. Both are off-the-record.”

Ferguson lists the first party to occur on, “April 9th [2015] at 7:00p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).”

The second party is to occur the following evening on, “April 10th at 6:30p.m. Cocktails and Hors D’oeuvre at the Home of Joel Benenson. … This is with a broader universe of New York reporters.”

A total of thirty eight reporters commit to attend one or both of the “off-the-record” parties. The email will be publicly released in October 2016 by WikiLeaks.

A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox. (Wikileaks, 04/06/15) (Wikileaks, 04/09/2015)

April 26, 2015 - Clinton's campaign team scramble to react to allegations made about the Clinton Foundation in "Clinton Cash"

Clinton Foundation donor, George Stephanopoulos, interviews “Clinton Cash” author, Peter Schweitzer on April 26, 2015. (Credit: ABC News)

(…) Clinton’s team scrambled in the spring of 2015 to reaction to allegations made about the Clinton Foundation in “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

Emails show an elaborate response plan, even debuting a rapid-response website for grassroots supporters to get talking points.

“The biggest question for this group is if and how HRC engages on Clinton Cash this week and what are the ‘two lines’ she would deliver,” Jake Sullivan wrote on May 3 to 10 top aides, including Jennifer Palmieri, Robby Mook, Mandy Grunwald, Joel Benenson, and Jim Margolis. Benenson responded with a few lines for Clinton to say about the foundation’s “life-saving work around the world.”

“The notion that that anyone donating to the foundation was going to influence me in my job is absurd,” Benenson suggested Clinton say, to which Margolis suggested, adding “and never happened.”

Of the rapid-response website, Sullivan wrote, “John [Podesta] and I discussed yesterday and think it is important that supporters and press know that we will deal aggressively with unfair attacks, but our real focus and hers is her proactive vision. Important that we do not appear beleaguered.”

In April, the team looked for ways to have reporters thoroughly debunk “Clinton Cash” before its release. “Amy Chozick from the NYT called us to indicate she had obtained a copy of the book on her own and intends to file a separate story tomorrow. Her story will not unpack all of the book’s claims … she will do a more process-y story about the book’s existence, the fact that the publisher has approached multiple media outlets in advance of the book’s publication to spoon-feed them some of the book’s research,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon wrote to other Clinton advisers.

He added, “We think this story, though it was not originated by us, could end up being somewhat helpful in casting the book’s author as having a conservative agenda.”

When the author, Peter Schweitzer, stumbled through an awkward interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos — himself a Clinton Foundation donor — the comms team took a victory lap as they sent around the transcript.

“[G]reat work everyone. this interview is perfect. he lands nothing and everything is refuted (mostly based on our work),” wrote spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

“This is therapeutic to watch. George is cool as a cucumber, doesn’t rush into it, but just destroys him slowly but surely over the course of the interview,” chimes in Nick Merrill.” (Read more: Politico, 10/07/2016)  (Archive)

April 30, 2015 - The DOJ receives a scathing legal judgment from an Austrian high court, for the politically motivated arrest and attempted extradition of titanium giant, Dmitry Firtash

“It’s not often that private individuals take on the entire State Department and win resounding victories in courts. It’s even rarer for the Justice Department to receive scathing legal judgments issued against it that openly accuse top-level employees of orchestrating politically motivated trials on sham charges. Yet this is exactly what happened last month when an Austrian High Court judge refused to hand over to the FBI one Dmitry Firtash, Ukrainian billionaire, after finding that there had been improper political interference from the US in the matter.

Essentially, the case revolves around supposed bribes given in 2006 by Firtash and his associates to Indian officials to launch a titanium project – a project that never materialized. After a grueling 13 hour hearing, Judge Christoph Bauer argued in his final decision that the case was “politically motivated” and rested solely on the testimony of two anonymous witnesses that the FBI refused to show before the court (the Judge questioned if those individuals were even real). He then accepted the line of defense put forth by Firtash, and acknowledged that the United States “attempted to pressure the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, into accepting Ukrainian association with the European Union” and that “America obviously saw Firtash as somebody who was threatening their economic interests”, according to the New York Times.

(…) Behind the scenes and across the aisle, Republicans and Democrats joined hands to pressure the Yanukovych government, first into signing the Association Agreement with the European Union and snub Russia, before blackmailing the President to step down unconditionally. Make no mistake, this is not your run of the mill the-American-government-is-bad argument; this is lifted straight from the takedown administered by Judge Christoph Bauer in the Firtash case.

An Austrian court has refused to extradite Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash (far right) to the US. He is wanted on bribery charges but the court said political motivations lay behind the US move. (Credit: H.P. Bader/Reuters)

Indeed, the Judge saw the causation behind the correlation of events that led to Yanukovych’s fall and Firtash’s arrest. An initial warrant for his arrest was issued in October 2013, at the same time Nuland went to Ukraine to persuade Yanukovych to sign the EU deal. The request was rescinded four days later, signaling that the Undersecretary of State had obtained assurances from the Ukrainian president. It was only four days after the ouster of Yanukovych that the arrest request was renewed leading to Firtash’s arrest the same day the new Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk, was visiting Washington.

Chillingly, even after the painful naming and shaming the US Department of Justice received from Austria, a country whose justice system is beyond reproach, Geoffrey Pyatt, our Ambassador to Ukraine renewed calls for Firtash’s arrest and extradition because “he must be brought to justice”. It’s worth noting that Firtash is not accused of any crimes and that Judge Bauer will most probably reject the appeal by US authorities.” (Read more: Foreign Policy Journal, 6/12/2015)  (Archive)

May 15, 2015 - Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell: Foreign governments have Hillary's email

Michael Morell (Credit: Glenn Fawcett/DoD)

“Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said that he believes some foreign intelligence agencies possess the contents of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

“I think that foreign intelligence services, the good ones, have everything on any unclassified network that the government uses,” Morell said Friday in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

“I don’t think that was a very good judgment,” he added of Clinton’s decision to use the private server for official State Department business. “I don’t know who gave her that advice, but it was not good advice.”

“She’s paying a price for it now,” Morell said of the server. “It was not good.” (Read more: Politico, 5/15/2015)

May 19, 2015 - Emails suggest the Justice Department communicates with Hillary Clinton's campaign as the administration deals with fallout from her use of a private server

(…) “Brian Fallon, Clinton’s campaign spokesman and a Justice Department alum, wrote in May 2015 that “DOJ folks” had tipped him off to an upcoming status hearing in a high-profile lawsuit that threatened to expose Clinton’s 30,000 work-related emails to the public.

An earlier email from an unidentified source shows someone alerted Fallon to filings in the Clinton email case.

When Fallon informed Clinton confidantes that the Justice Department “filed a briefing saying the gov’t proposes releasing HRC’s cache of work-related emails in January 2016,” Cheryl Mils, a board member at the Clinton Foundation, reacted with surprise.

The conversation is one of many that shed light on the Clinton campaign’s efforts to stay ahead of a controversy that progressed rapidly during the early months of her White House bid.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 10/11/2016)

July 6, 2015 - The Intel Community IG determines the classified national security information in Clinton's emails may have been "compromised" and shared with a foreign power

Former National Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough (Credit: Getty Images)

“Two secret letters the FBI sent to the State Department have revealed for the first time that the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the classified emails sent through it, stemmed from a so-called “Section 811” referral from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (ICIG). The ICIG determined that classified, national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.”

Section 811 of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 “is the statutory authority that governs the coordination of counterespionage investigations between Executive Branch departments or agencies and the FBI.” A Section 811 referral is a report to the FBI about any unauthorized information that may have been disclosed to a foreign power.

A Section 811 referral “arises whenever there is a compromise of classified information — for whatever reason,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It could include espionage, but it could also include negligence, inadvertence, or something else…. Section 811 does not assert a violation of criminal law.”

The two letters, dated October 23, 2015 and January 20, 2016, and marked “For Official Use Only,” were written by Peter Strzok and Charles H. Kable IV, the section chiefs of the FBI’s counterespionage section, and sent to Gregory B. Starr, the assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. They were written while the FBI was investigating Clinton’s use of an unsecure, private email server and the dissemination of classified information.

A snippet from Peter Strzok’s letter proving he was aware Clinton’s emails may have been compromised by a foreign power.

“The potential compromise was identified when, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request [by VICE News], the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and the ICIG reviewed electronic mail (email) communications from the private email accounts previously used by a former Secretary of State during her tenure at DoS,” Kable wrote. “An initial review of this material identified emails containing national security information later determined by the US Intelligence Community to be classified up to the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information Level.”

The letters were turned over to VICE News in response to a FOIA lawsuit we filed against the FBI last year seeking, among other records, correspondence between the FBI and the State Department about Clinton’s private server and the FBI’s probe into it. The FBI had previously said that if it were to disclose the contents of these letters — even the identities of the senders and receivers — it would jeopardize its investigation.” (Read more: VICE News, 8/09/2016) (FBI Vault)

July 6, 2015 - IC IG McCullough issues an 811 referral on possible compromise of Clinton's private server and the FBI ignores it

“Congressional investigators have gathered enough evidence to suggest that the FBI, under the Obama administration, ignored a major lead in the Clinton-email probe, according to transcripts of closed-door testimonies of several current and former bureau officials.

The office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General informed the FBI in 2015 that a forensic review of Hillary Clinton’s emails unearthed anomalies in the metadata of the messages. The evidence in the metadata suggested that a copy of every email Hillary Clinton sent during her tenure as the secretary of state was forwarded to a foreign third party.

The existence of the lead was first revealed during the public testimony of Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz in June last year. Horowitz acknowledged the existence of the specific lead and said he spoke about it to Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Charles McCullough. Yet, despite the alarming nature of the referral, Horowitz’s 568-page report on the FBI’s handling the Clinton-email investigation made no mention of the lead or how the bureau handled it. The omission caught the attention of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who pressed Horowitz for an explanation. Horowitz said he would get back to the committee with answers.

It’s unclear if Horowitz ever followed up on that promise. Meadows went on to question several current and former FBI officials about the lead, including Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bill Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, John Giacolone, and James Comey. In all of the interviews, transcripts of which were reviewed for this article, the officials claimed to remember nothing about the specific referral from the ICIG, suggesting that the lead was either suppressed or ignored by investigators.

During questioning, Meadows repeatedly suggested that Strzok, the former FBI official best known for being fired from the agency last year for his anti-Trump text messages, ignored the lead and never followed up with the ICIG regarding the referral. The bureau also didn’t interview anyone from the ICIG’s office, including Frank Rucker, the investigator who initially briefed the FBI team about the anomalies, according to the transcripts.

An official from the ICIG communications office didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview with Rucker.

Meadows summed up what lawmakers have learned about the ICIG lead while questioning Comey on Dec. 17 last year. Comey served as the director of the FBI during the Clinton-email probe. He was one of the last witnesses interviewed by lawmakers shortly before the House judiciary and oversight committees wrapped up their review of actions taken and not taken by the FBI and the DOJ during the 2016 presidential election.

“Well, just to be clear, Mr. McCullough has indicated to Members of Congress that there was zero followup,” Meadows told Comey. “There are allegations they believe were largely ignored by the FBI.” (The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)

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