The FBI concludes Clinton contributed to discussions in 11 email chains, including four at the above top secret level.
A FBI report released on this day will mention: “The FBI investigation determined Clinton contributed to discussions in four email chains classified as ‘confidential’, three email chains classified as ‘secret’/NOFORN, and four email chains classified as ‘top secret’/ SAP.” (“SAP” stands for “Special Access Programs.”)
However, FBI classification is wildly different from State Department classification when it comes to “confidential” emails, with the FBI deeming 36 email chains of around 100 emails or less classified at that level, compared to the State Department deeming 2,028 individual emails classified at that level.
Furthermore, the FBI puts emails where Clinton asked aides to print out emails as different from replies that added to discussions. The FBI identified 67 times where Clinton forwarded emails for printing at either the “confidential” or “secret” levels. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
By contrast, a March 2016 Washington Post analysis concluded that 104 of all the emails deemed classified were written by Clinton. Presumably, they used the State Department definition of which ones were classified (since it was the only one publicly available at the time), and they were measuring individual emails instead of email chains. Furthermore, the Post noted that at least some of Clinton’s comments were deemed classified in three-fourths of these 104 emails, so presumably these were not emails where she just asked fo print-outs. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016)
Trump criticizes Clinton after the release of her FBI interview summary.
Hours after the FBI’s summary of Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview is released, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says: “Hillary Clinton’s answers to the FBI about her private email server defy belief. I was absolutely shocked to see that her answers to the FBI stood in direct contradiction to what she told the American people. After reading these documents, I really don’t understand how she was able to get away from prosecution.” (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)
The FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report and its summary of her FBI interview are released.
The FBI’s 47-page final report on its Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s 11-page summary of its July 2016 interview with Clinton are publicly released. However, both are heavily redacted. The last third of the final report is entirely redacted.
The Washington Post notes, “Ordinarily internal documents from FBI investigations are not made public. However, [FBI Director James] Comey has said the unusually high profile case warranted more robust public disclosures than is standard.”
It is believed both reports were finished just prior to when Comey gave a public speech on July 5, 2016, stating that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments in this case. Clinton’s interview occurred only three days prior to this.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers make the release of the two documents the main headline.
The Post comments, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staffers employed an informal and sometimes haphazard system for exchanging and storing sensitive information and were at times either unaware or unconcerned with State Department policy…” (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)
The Times comments: “The documents provided a number of new details about Mrs. Clinton’s private server, including what appeared to be a frantic effort by a computer specialist to delete an archive of her emails even after a congressional committee had requested that they be preserved.”
This is a reference to the revelation that Platte River Networks (PRN) employee Paul Combetta confessed to deleting and then wiping all of Clinton’s emails off her server in late March 2015, despite him being aware of a Congressional order to preserve them. This had been entirely unknown prior to the publication of the report. (The New York Times, 9/2/2016)
The following are other key findings in the FBI documents, as pointed out by the Times or the Post:
- Clinton defended her handling of the private server by repeatedly saying that she deferred to the judgment of her aides.
- She regarded emails containing classified discussions about planned drone strikes as “routine.” (In fact, such discussions make up most of her “top secret” emails.)
- She said she did not recall receiving any emails “she thought should not be on an unclassified system.” Furthermore, she “could not recall anyone raising concerns with her regarding the sensitivity of the information she received at her email address.” (In fact, she sent or received over 2,000 emails later deemed classified, including at least 22 at the “top secret” level.)
- She emailed Colin Powell a day after she was sworn into office to ask him about his use of a personal email account when he was secretary of state. Powell warned her to “be very careful” because if she used her BlackBerry for official business, those emails could become “official record[s] and subject to the law.”
- Some of her closest aides were aware she used a private email address but didn’t know she had set up a private server. (However, this is actually contradicted by other evidence.)
- She regularly brought her BlackBerry into a secure area near her office where it was prohibited, according to three of her aides. However, one aide said it was only stored there, not used.
- She used 13 BlackBerrys to send emails. The FBI was unable to recover any of them. Two aides said “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.”
- One aide recalled two occasions “where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.” (The New York Times, 9/2/2016) (The New York Times, 9/2/2016)
- The FBI wrote that “investigative limitations, including the FBI’s inability to obtain all mobile devices and various computer components associated with Clinton’s personal email systems, prevented the FBI from conclusively determining” whether her emails had been successfully hacked.
- Shortly after she left office, a laptop was made to contain back-up copies of all her emails. However, it got lost in transit.
- According to the Post, Clinton claimed she “did not know much about how the government classified information. For instance, she said she did not pay attention to the difference between levels of classification, like ‘top secret’ and ‘secret,’ indicating she took ‘all classified information seriously.'” And when she was shown an email with the (C) marking, which is commonly used by the department to indicate classified information, she didn’t recognize the marking.
- The Post also notes, “she repeatedly told agents she could not recall important details or specific emails she was questioned about.” (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)
- classification markings
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Putin denies that Russia was involved in the DNC hack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says in an interview about accusations of Russian government in the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails: “Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data? The important thing is the content that was given to the public …. There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it. … But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.”
However, an internal probe conducted by CrowdStrike Inc. traced the source of the hack to two Russian hacking groups connected with Russian intelligence, “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear.”
James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, claims that Russia has engaged in state hacking in the past and that Putin’s denials are “not credible.”
Putin continues: “You know how many hackers there are today? They act so delicately and precisely that they can leave their mark — or even the mark of others — at the necessary time and place, camouflaging their activities as that of other hackers from other territories or countries. It’s an extremely difficult thing to check, if it’s even possible to check. At any rate, we definitely don’t do this at a state level.” (Bloomberg News, 9/1/2016)
Colin Powell warns the Clinton campaign to not compare his AOL account to the Clinton private server.
Just one month earlier, former Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that Clinton had shot herself in the foot by not apologizing immediately and by dragging out her email controversy.
The Intercept later highlights an email Powell writes on August 28, 2016 which states, “HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.”
Powell says he tried to put an end to the matter by meeting with Cheryl Mills earlier that month. Instead, he writes, “I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s [sic] party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields.”
The emails reveal Powell isn’t shy about sharing his frustrations over the Clinton campaign’s attempt to “blur the lines between Clinton’s private email server and Powell’s AOL account,” according to the Intercept. He suggests to dozens of reporters and producers who emailed him to read his book, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership,” in which he devoted an entire chapter to his efforts to revamp the State Department’s IT system.”
Powell also argues, when he arrived at the State Department, the information technology system was extremely outdated. The Intercept will conclude, “[U]nlike Clinton, Powell never set up a private server. Instead, he used his personal AOL [AmericaOnline] account, on a server maintained by AOL, and used a government computer for classified communications.” (The Intercept, 09/13/16)
The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.
Clinton says she is sure that there are no damaging emails and/or Clinton Foundation controversies still to be made public.
Clinton is asked by MSNBC journalist Mika Brzezinski, “Are you certain that there are no emails or foundation ties to foreign entities that will be revealed that could perhaps permanently impact your presidential prospects?”
Clinton replies, “Mika, I am sure, and I am sure because I have a very strong foundation of understanding about the foundation—not to have a play on words—that the kind of work the foundation has done which attracted donors from around the world is work that went right into providing services to people.” (Politico, 8/26/2016)
Clinton criticizes an Associated Press article about her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors.
On August 24, 2016, the Associated Press published an article that claims more than half of all the private citizens Clinton met with when she was secretary of state had donated to the Clinton Foundation.
In a CNN interview later that same day, Clinton says the article is “a lot of smoke and no fire.” She adds, “This AP report, put it in context. It excludes nearly 2,000 meetings I had with world leaders. That is absurd. These are people I was proud to meet with, who any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with.”
The Associated Press made clear at the start of the article that they were excluding meetings with US and foreign politicians, since those presumably would take place as part of her government duties anyway. (Politico, 8/24/2016)
Clinton’s surrogates in the media also are very critical of the article. For instance, a Politico article about it later on the same day is entitled “Clinton camp rages against AP report.” The article notes that Clinton’s chief strategist Joel Benenson, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, long-time Clinton ally James Carville, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon, and Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala all make the same point in media interviews, that the Associated Press is “cherry-picking” by limiting its analysis to only private citizens who met with Clinton. They also assert that no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part was proven by the article. (Politico, 8/24/2016)
The State Department is ordered to review nearly 15,000 Clinton emails for public release, but it is unclear how many of these are previously unreleased work-related emails.
During the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, the FBI found some of Clinton’s over 31,000 deleted emails from when she was secretary of state. At the conclusion of the investigation in July 2016, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails,” but is it uncertain exactly how many of these emails were found, either work-related or personal. The FBI has given the State Department a CD containing the found emails, and the department has said it will publicly release all the work-related ones.
In a court hearing presided by US District Judge James Boasberg on this day, it is revealed that the CD contains around 14,900 emails. Boasberg orders the State Department to review the emails for public release in response to various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. However, it is still unclear if any of these are duplicates of the 30,000 Clinton emails already publicly released. Furthermore, it is unknown how many of the found deleted emails are personal and how many are work-related (aside from Comey’s vague “several thousand” emails comment).
In addtion, the FBI has given the State Department seven other CDs: one contains classified documents related to Clinton, another contains emails returned by Clinton, and the other five contain materials from other people that was retrieved by the FBI.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner says, “We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State. State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”
Regarding the CD of Clinton emails, Toner says, “We still don’t have a full sense of how many of the 14,900 are new. Granted, that’s a healthy number there, so there’s likely to be quite a few.”
Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus comments, “The process for reviewing these emails needs to be expedited, public disclosure should begin before early voting starts, and the emails in question should be released in full before Election Day.” (Politico, 8/22/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/22/2016)
On September 23, 2016, it will be revealed that 5,600 of the 14,900 recovered emails are deemed work-related.
Colin Powell says Clinton’s campaign is trying to blame her email scandal on him.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says of Clinton’s email scandal, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.” His comments come shortly after the New York Times reported that Powell advised Clinton should use a private email account for non-classified communications.
Powell adds, “The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.” Indeed, the Times mentioned that Powell’s advice came months after Clinton’s private email server and exclusive use of only a private email account began. (People, 8/21/2016)
A judge rules that Clinton can respond to a deposition with written answers instead of being questioned in person.
Judicial Watch has been seeking to have Clinton deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving her emails. However, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rules: “Judicial Watch’s argument that a deposition is preferable in this case because of the ability to ask follow-up questions is not persuasive. Given the extensive public record related to the clintonemail.com system, a record which Judicial Watch has acknowledged
Judicial Watch will be able to anticipate many follow-up questions. For those follow-up questions that Judicial Watch is unable to anticipate, it can move this Court for permission to serve additional interrogatories.”
Sullivan notes that due to legal precedents applicable to current and former Cabinet officials, he should only require Clinton to appear at a deposition if “exceptional circumstances” justify it.
Sullivan says he is still intent on finding out why Clinton’s private server was set up and whether there were other reasons beyond Clinton’s public claim of “convenience.” He also says it is important that she at least answer questions in writing about this because depositions of Clinton’s staff had shown that “her closest aides at the State Department do not have personal knowledge of her purpose in using the [server].”
Politico notes, “Technically, it is still possible one of several other judges considering similar cases could issue such an order [for Clinton to be deposed in person], but the clock may run out soon on efforts to force such an appearance in advance of the November [presidential] election.”
Judicial Watch also asked for the depositions of former State Department officials Clarence Finney and John Bentel.
Sullivan rejects the deposition of Finney, despite the fact that Finney’s job was to organize responses to FOIA requests. However, he does order the future deposition of Bentel. It has been reported that Bentel blocked other department employees from raising questions about Clinton’s use of her server. (Politico, 8/19/2016)