January 20, 1993–January 20, 2001: Bill Clinton is the president of the US for eight years and Hillary Clinton is the first lady.

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Hillary Clinton (left) and Bill Clinton (right) after Bill’s presidential victory in 1992. (Credit: Luke Frazza / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Democrat Bill Clinton is the president of the US for eight years and his wife Hillary Clinton is the first lady.

October 30, 1995: The State Department orders that all employees must preserve their emails.

New regulations state that “such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

1996: Future FBI Director Comey wants to charge Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater investigation.

Cover of Time magazine on April 4, 1994, with the subhead "How the president's men tried to hinder the Whitewater investigation" (Credit: Time Magazine)

Cover of Time magazine on April 4, 1994, with the subhead “How the president’s men tried to hinder the Whitewater investigation” (Credit: Time Magazine)

James Comey is deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee. According to Time Magazine in March 2016: “In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to ‘far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,’ Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted ‘a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.’”

However, Comey is not in charge of the case, and his superiors decide not to press charges against Bill or Hillary Clinton in the matter.

In 2013, Comey will be appointed director of the FBI, which will make him the de facto head of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails that starts in 2015. (Time, 3/31/2016)

June 2, 1996: Clinton shows a pattern of evasion regarding the Whitewater investigation.

Clinton talks to reporters after testifying before a grand jury investigating Whitewater on January 26, 1996. (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton talks to reporters after testifying before a grand jury investigating Whitewater on January 26, 1996. (Credit: The Associated Press)

The Washington Post publishes a front-page story analyzing Hillary Clinton’s public comments about the Whitewater investigation. It concludes, “From the beginning of the Whitewater controversy, Hillary Clinton has maintained a public posture seemingly at odds with her actions. She was reluctant to release records during the 1992 campaign. She fought David Gergen’s recommendation to turn over all the records in 1993. She led White House opposition to the appointment of a special counsel in early 1994. There appears to be a four-year pattern of Hillary Clinton avoiding full disclosure, occasionally forgetting places and events that might embarrass her, and revising her story as documents emerge and the knowledge of her questioners deepens.” (The Washington Post, 6/2/1996)

Bloomberg News will later comment, “The impression that she had something to hide—even when she may not have—was cemented when her Whitewater billing records from her old practice, the Rose Law Firm, mysteriously went missing for two years, then turned up in a reading room in the third-floor residence at the White House.” (Bloomberg News, 3/3/2015)

May 3, 2000: Secretary of State Madeline Albright chastises all State Department employees for being careless about security.

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Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Credit: Politico)

Albright gives a speech in front of 800 State Department officials in Washington, DC, that is also broadcast to other department officials in other states and countries. She says, ”I don’t care how skilled you are as a diplomat, how brilliant you may be at meetings, or how creative you are as an administrator, if you are not professional about security, you are a failure.” Her speech comes after some recently reported security breaches in her department, including the disappearance of a laptop containing classified information. She adds, “You may have seen reports indicating that I am furious about these incidents. Well, I am, and I hope you are, too.”

According to the New York Times, US diplomats privately acknowledge that they are sometimes cavalier about security. One unnamed longtime department official says, ”Nobody cares about security within the department.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2000)

June 9, 2000: Clinton says she doesn’t want to use email, due to the many times she’s been investigated.

Clinton in a home video recording on June 9, 2000. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton in a home video recording on June 9, 2000. (Credit: public domain)

Home video footage from a private fundraiser shows Senator Clinton talking about how she has deliberately avoided using email so she wouldn’t leave a paper trail. “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I? I don’t even want… Why would I ever want to do email? Can you imagine?”

But apparently necessity will force her to change her mind, and it is known that by 2006 she will start using a BlackBerry for email. (ABC News, 3/6/2015) (ABC News Video, 3/6/2015)

2005 and 2007: The State Department issues computer usage regulations that Clinton will later violate.

In 2005, new State Department regulations state that normal day-to-day activities should be conducted on an authorized computer system, known as an automated information system (AIS). Examples of an AIS include a server and a mobile device.

In 2007, new regulations specify that nondepartmental AISs containing department information must be registered with the department and maintain certain minimum security standards.

In 2016, an internal department investigation will determine that Clinton never registered her private server or mobile devices and thus never had them checked to see if they maintained the required security standards. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

Between January 26, 2005 and January 20, 2009: Limited BlackBerry use is allowed in the secretary of state’s suite, but is phased out for security concerns.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Credit: public domain)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Credit: public domain)

Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. Although she doesn’t use email much at all, her top aides doand at some point that becomes a security problem. In a February 2009 email, the NSA’s senior liaison to the State Department will explain what happens: “Former Secretary Rice had received waivers for her staff; however, use expanded to an unmanageable number of users from a security perspective, so those waivers were phased out and BlackBerry use was not allowed in her suite.”

When Clinton becomes the next secretary of state, she and her aides will want to use BlackBerrys too, but security officials won’t allow it after the growing problems with Rice’s aides. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)

November 4, 2005: State Department policy decrees day-to-day operations are to be done on government servers.

US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC.

State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. (Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid)

The State Department decrees that “sensitive but unclassified” information should not be transmitted through personal email accounts. It also states, “It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [government server], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication, and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.” (US Department of State, 1/12/2016) (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

The department’s regulations also require that “Departing officials must ensure that all record material that they possess is incorporated in the Department’s official files and that all file searches for which they have been tasked have been completed, such as those required to respond to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], Congressional, or litigation-related document requests. Fines, imprisonment, or both may be imposed for the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of records as stated in the US Criminal Code (e.g., 18 U.S.C., section 2071).” (US Department of State, 8/17/2007)

2006: Clinton begins using a handheld BlackBerry device for her email communications.

Clinton talks on a BlackBerry in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2007. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton talks on a BlackBerry in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2007. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton begins using a handheld BlackBerry device for her email communications. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

2006 or Earlier: 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 2006: Bryan Pagliano begins working for Clinton.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: The Associated Press)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: The Associated Press)

Bryan Pagliano, who later will manage Clinton’s private email server, is hired to be the IT [Information Technology] director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. According to his later resume, his job is to “Hire and manage a team of systems administrators, engineers, and administrative staff.” From 1999 to 2006, he worked as “Senior Systems Engineer” and “Systems Team Lead” for a company giving computer assistance to non-profits in the Washington, DC, area. (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) Pagliano provides technical support for BlackBerry communications during Clinton’s campaign. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

2007—2008: Clinton gets hooked on using a BlackBerry.

A BlackBerry 7230, a model from the early 2000's. (Credit: Stephen Foskett)

A BlackBerry 7230, a model from the early 2000’s. (Credit: Stephen Foskett)

According to a February 2009 email by Donald Reid, a State Department security official, when Clinton is running for president in 2007 and 2008, she and her top aides become “addicted” to using BlackBerry devices to keep in contact with large numbers of people. Once Clinton “got the hang of it, she was hooked.” Also, she does not like to use desktop computers. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)

March 2007—2008: The Bush Administration gets embroiled in a private email scandal.

On April 13, 2007, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports on the Bush administration's missing emails. (Credit: CNN)

On April 13, 2007, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux reports on the Bush administration’s missing emails. (Credit: CNN)

A Congressional oversight committee investigates allegations that the White House fired US attorneys for political reasons. The committee asks Bush officials to turn over relevant emails, only to find that government work had been conducted on private email addresses. Millions of emails are deleted and permanently lost, preventing the committee from continuing their investigation. Bush officials use email accounts associated with a private gwb43.com server owned and controlled by the RNC [Republican National Committee], which is a private political entity not covered by government oversight laws. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2007) (Vox, 3/2/2015)

In 2015, shortly after Clinton’s use of a private email address will be revealed, Vox will comment, “That [Bush administration email] scandal unfolded well into the final year of Bush’s presidency, then overlapped with another email secrecy scandal, over official emails that got improperly logged and then deleted, which itself dragged well into Obama’s first year in office. There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same.”

Vox will also note, “Perhaps even more stunning is that the Obama White House, whose top officials were presumably exchanging frequent emails with Clinton, apparently did not insist she adopt an official email account.” (Vox, 3/2/2015)

2008: A government guide explains how to deal with the accidental mention of classified information.

The US government posts an internal guide on how to deal with “spillage”—the common term for classified information accidentally getting onto an unclassified system. The guide, “National Instruction on Classified Information Spillage,” explains how such errors should be assessed and reported. One step mentioned for more severe cases is: “Determine whether the incident should be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation and/or criminal prosecution.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

2008: The US government publishes rules for email storage.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

2008: A government warning will be ignored in the way Clinton’s email server is set up and managed.

The federal government’s US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), warns that exposed server ports are security risks. According to a 2015 Associated Press article, “It [says] remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.”

But according to records from late 2012, the private email server used by Clinton while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 will have exposed server ports, and it will use remote-control programs without encryption tunnels. This will leave it more vulnerable to hacker attacks. (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015)

January 15, 2008—September 30, 2013: The State Department has no permanent inspector general for the entire time Clinton is secretary of state.

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Acting Inspector General Harold Geisel (Credit: public domain)

Instead, an acting inspector with close ties to State Department leadership fills the role. An “inspector general” is an internal watchdog tasked with discovering mismanagement and corruption. The position goes vacant in January 2008. President Obama doesn’t nominate anyone to fill the position for more than four years, making it the longest time any department ever went without a permanent one.

Five months after Clinton leaves office, Obama nominates Steve Linick, who is confirmed as the new permanent inspector general three months later, on September 30, 2013.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will write, “The lack of a confirmed inspector general raises questions about oversight of the department under Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. The department has been criticized for its failure to gather and archive the email records of Mrs. Clinton and other officials and for responses to public-record requests that lawmakers and advocacy groups say were insufficient… It isn’t clear whether Mrs. Clinton had any role in the lack of a nomination.”

The acting inspector general during Clinton’s term, Harold Geisel, is banned from taking the job permanently due to conflict of interest rules. Matthew Harris, a professor who researches inspectors general, will later comment, “It’s a convenient way to prevent oversight.” Acting inspectors general “don’t feel empowered; they don’t have the backing of their people. They’re in a position where they could be removed at any moment.”

Representative Ed Royce (R), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will later suggest, “A permanent IG [inspector general] would have objected to [Clinton’s] efforts to circumvent congressional oversight by keeping her emails off the books.”

The White House has yet to explain why it waited so long to nominate a replacement. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2015)

February 1, 2008: Clinton’s private email domain is set up under a false name.

Another view of the Clinton family home in Chappaqua, New York. (Credit: Susan Farley / Getty Images)

A view of the Clinton family home in Chappaqua, New York. (Credit: Susan Farley / Getty Images)

An IP address associated with the clintonemail.com domain later used by Hillary Clinton is registered to “Eric Hoteham” on this date. The IP address for clintonemail.com, along with others registered in Hoteham’s name, is connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home address in Chappaqua, New York. ABC News will later call Hoteham a “mystery man,” since no one with that name is known to exist.

He may or may not be the same as the similarly named Eric Hothem who worked for Bill Clinton when he was president, was an aide for Hillary Clinton in the early 2000s, and has worked for Citicorp and then JP Morgan since. That person has refused to comment on the matter. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (ABC News, 3/6/2015)

February 1, 2008: The Clinton Foundation’s email domain is linked to Clinton’s private server.

On the same day “Eric Hoteham” (who is probably a Clinton associate named Eric Hothem) registers clintonemail.com for the private server in the Chappaqua house where Bill and Hillary Clinton live, he registers two other domain names: wjcoffice.com and presidentclinton.com. “WJC” most likely stands for Bill Clinton’s full name “William Jefferson Clinton.” The FBI will later determine that this “was primarily a legacy domain that contained mostly forwarded email.” But presidentclinton.com will be used for email accounts of Clinton Foundation employees and other employees of President Clinton.

These other two domains are also based in Clinton’s house, on the same server that will become infamous for containing all of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of state. Apparently, the server won’t become operational until around June 2008.

Bil Clinton doesn’t maintain an email account on the server. His wife Hillary won’t start using an email account on the server until January 2009. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (The New York Times, 3/4/2015) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

April 15, 2008: Clinton promises transparency.

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Clinton closes a cell phone before handing it back to her aide Huma Abedin in 2008. (Credit: Politico)

During Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, Clinton says that if she is elected, “we will adopt a presumption of openness and [fulfilling] Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests and urge agencies to release information quickly.” (The Federation of American Scientists, 4/15/2008)

But the Washington Post will later report that within days of Clinton becoming the secretary of state in early 2009, “Clinton’s senior advisers were already taking steps that would help her circumvent those high-flown words.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Around June 2008: Clinton’s first private email server is set up in her house.

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The Apple Power Macintosh G4 Server (Credit: public domain)

According to the FBI, around 2007, Justin Cooper purchased an Apple OS X server. Cooper is a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton at the time. On February 1, 2008, the domain names clintonemail.com, wjcoffice.com, and presidentclinton.com were registered, but apparently the server that uses them won’t be operational until a few months later. The server is physically located in a house in Chappaqua, New York, where Bill and Hillary Clinton live.

The server consists of an Apple Power Macintosh G4 or G5 tower and an HP printer. According to Cooper, around June 2008, an Apple employee installs the server in the basement of the Chappaqua house. Cooper is the only person with administrative access to the server. However, the Clinton family and their house staff have physical access to it.

Hillary Clinton uses her att.blackberry.net email account as her primary email address until around mid-to-late January 2009 when she will switch to a newly created hdr22@clintonemail.com account hosted on this server. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

June 7, 2008: Clinton concedes the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama after a close primary race.

Obama will win the general election in November 2008 and make Clinton his secretary of state shortly thereafter. (ABC News, 6/7/2008)

After June 7, 2008: Clinton’s computer technician starts managing Clinton’s private server.

Carrie Pagliano, wife (left), Bill Clinton (center), and Bryan Pagliano (right). (Credit: Facebook)

Carrie Pagliano, wife (left), Bill Clinton (center), and Bryan Pagliano (right). (Credit: Facebook)

At some unknown point after Clinton ends her presidential campaign on June 7, 2008, Bryan Pagliano is tasked as the lead specialist to take care of the new private email server in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, house. He will keep the job until mid-2013. Pagliano worked as the IT (information technology) director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

He is paid by Clinton’s Senate leadership PAC (political action committee) through April 2009, then starts working for the State Department a month later. (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)

August 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)

Mid-August 2008: The Chinese government apparently hacks into the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain.

Admiral Dennis Blair (Credit: Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA)

Admiral Dennis Blair (Credit: Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA)

Hacking teams traced back to China are caught breaking into the computers of the Obama and McCain campaigns, resulting in high-level warnings to Chinese officials to stop. The computers, laptops, and mobile devices of top campaign aides and advisers who receive high-level briefings are particularly targeted. “Spear phishing” is used to get targets to open an attachment containing a virus that would allow data to be stolen from their computer.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe will later say he got a call in the middle of August 2008 alerting him to the attack and that the FBI was investigating. However, the virus is extremely sophisticated, and it takes months for it to be completely removed from the networks of the two campaigns.

In a May 2009 speech, President Obama will make a general mention of the attacks: “Hackers gained access to emails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans.” However, the involvement of China’s government won’t be publicly revealed until June 2013.

Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence from 2009 to 2010, will comment that year, “Based on everything I know, this was a case of political cyberespionage by the Chinese government against the two American political parties. They were looking for positions on China, surprises that might be rolled out by campaigns against China.” (NBC News, 6/6/2013)

Autumn 2008 to Mid-January 2009: It is decided to replace Clinton’s first private server with a larger server built by Pagliano.

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The Mac OS X Logo (Credit: Apple)

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)

December 1, 2008: President-elect Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state.

President-elect Obama (front) announces his nomination of Clinton (back) as secretary of state on December 1, 2008. (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

President-elect Obama (front) announces his nomination of Clinton (back) as secretary of state on December 1, 2008. (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

President-elect Barack Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. (The Guardian, 12/1/2008)

2009: Government regulations require the preservation of all work-related emails kept on non-governmental computer systems.

In 2004, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a bulletin noting that officials and employees “must know how to ensure that records are incorporated into files or electronic recordkeeping systems, especially records that were generated electronically on personal computers.”

In 2009, NARA amends its regulations explicitly to address official emails on personal accounts: Departments that allow employees to send and receive work-related emails using a system not operated by the department must ensure that all such emails are preserved in the appropriate department recordkeeping system. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

2009: Top White House staff gradually become aware that Clinton is using a private email address, but don’t do anything about it.

David Axelrod (Credit: Michael Kovac / Wire)

David Axelrod (Credit: Michael Kovac / Wire)

For instance, in June 2009, top Obama strategist David Axelrod corresponds with Clinton at her private email address. On September 5, 2009, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asks Clinton aide Huma Abedin for Clinton’s email address and is given it.

President Obama also occasionally emails Clinton. However, Obama will later claim that he was unaware Clinton was using a private server, and no evidence has yet emerged that anyone else in the White House knew about the server. (The Associated Press, 6/30/2015)

Early 2009: Clinton associates use her private server for other private email addresses.

Bill Clinton (left), Hillary Clinton (center), and Chelsea Clinton (right) at a Clinton Foundation event in 2014. (Credit: Barbara McKinney)

Bill Clinton (left), Hillary Clinton (center), and Chelsea Clinton (right) at a Clinton Foundation event in 2014. (Credit: Barbara McKinney)

A few other Clinton associates also get email accounts through Hillary Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server, though the exact total is unknown. Other associates use other private email accounts for government work.

  • Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton has an account under the pseudonym “Diane Reynolds,” to help her travel incognito. (Politico, 3/5/2015)
  • Deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, whom the New York Times has called a “surrogate daughter” for Hillary, uses a huma@clintonemail.com address. (Bloomberg News, 3/6/2015)
  • Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton does not have an email address, even though the server is in the house he lives in. According to a 2015 account, Bill Clinton has almost never used email. (Bloomberg News, 3/11/2015)—however, another 2015 news article will say that’s almost certainly untrue. (The Atlantic, 3/12/2015)
  • Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills does not have an account on the server, but uses cherylmills@gmail.com, a private email account through Google. (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015)
  • Philippe Reines, Clinton’s senior advisor and press secretary, has two email accounts, and uses both for work. He has a government account and a private Gmail account (preines@gmail.com). (Politico, 10/5/2015)

Early 2009: President Obama bans Blumenthal from a job at the State Department.

The Blumenthals attend a Christmas party at the White House during the early years of Bill Clinton's presidency. (Credit: public domain)

The Blumenthals attend a Christmas party at the White House during the early years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton wants to hire Sid Blumenthal as an official national security adviser in the State Department. Blumenthal had worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House in the 1990s, then had been a journalist, then joined Clinton’s presidential campaign as a senior adviser in 2007. However, Obama bans him from any government job.

According to a 2015 Politico article, “Obama aides were convinced that Blumenthal spread false personal and policy rumors about Obama during the battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination.” When Clinton is asked in 2015 if the White House banned her from hiring Blumenthal, she won’t dispute it. (Politico, 10/22/2015) (Politico, 1/8/2016)

Blumenthal will soon get a full-time job at the Clinton Foundation with a $120,000 a year salary. For the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, he will frequently email her intelligence information that he will later claim came from Tyler Drumheller, a CIA agent until 2005. (Politico, 5/28/2015)

Early 2009—March 2015: Sid Blumenthal takes a job at the Clinton Foundation, advises the secretary of state frequently, and promotes the interests of two government contractors.

Sid Blumenthal (Credit: The Guardian)

Sid Blumenthal (Credit: The Guardian)

Sid Blumenthal is paid about $120,000 a year as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation. He gets the job in early 2009 at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, who employed him in the White House in the 1990s. He keeps the job until March 2015, the same month that the Clinton email scandal first becomes news.

Blumenthal is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and a journalist. He appears to have been a private citizen without a security clearance since the 1990s. Yet for the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and while he is being paid by the Clinton Foundation, he frequently emails her with intelligence information and advice. His foundation job doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any of the foundation’s charitable works.

According to Politico, “While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of [Bill] Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation.”

In 2011, Blumenthal has a business relationship with two companies, Osprey Global Solutions and Constellations Group, trying to get government contracts to assist US-supported rebels in Libya that year.

After March 2015, Blumenthal will be a paid consultant to American Bridge and Media Matters, two groups supporting Clinton’s presidential campaign that are run by David Brock, an ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal. Politico will later comment, “Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups, and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya underscores the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises.” (Politico, 5/28/2015)

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.

Ernie Milner, division chief for SMART Testing and Implementation, and Kevin Gatlin, division chief for SMART Messaging, in the State Department SMART lab in Newington, VA. (Credit: American Diplomacy / University of North Carolina)

Ernie Milner, division chief for SMART Testing and Implementation, and Kevin Gatlin, division chief for SMART Messaging, in the State Department SMART lab in Newington, VA. (Credit: American Diplomacy / University of North Carolina)

In 2009, the first year Clinton is secretary of state, the State Department begins using the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART), which allows employees to electronically tag emails to preserve a copy for posterity. This allows employees to easily comply with record keeping regulations, instead of having to print out copies of each email.

Although most of the State Department starts using SMART in 2009; the Office of the Secretary elects not to use the SMART system to preserve emails, partly due to concerns that the system would “allow overly broad access to sensitive materials.” (This quote is from an FBI report, but the name of the official who said it is redacted.)

Representatives from the Executive Secretariat (which includes Clinton’s office) ask to be the last to receive the SMART rollout. Ultimately SMART is never used by the Executive Secretariat Office or Clinton for the rest of Clinton’s four-year tenure.

This leaves printing out each email as the only approved method by which the Clinton or her staff in the Office of the Secretary could preserve emails for record keeping. But when Clinton leaves office in February 2013, she won’t even do that.

Remarkably, when Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, the FBI summary will indicate: “Clinton was not aware how other State [Department] staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

SMART will have security and cost overrun problems for the rest of Clinton’s tenure, and beyond.

Around Early 2009: Clinton’s lack of a government email account means her emails are off-limits to FOIA requests.

Karin Lang (Credit: CSpan)

Karin Lang (Credit: CSpan)

In court testimony in 2016, State Director of Executive Secretariat Staff Karin Lang will recall that Clarence Finney, who oversees the State Department’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches, is told around the time Clinton becomes secretary of state that she won’t be using a government email account.

Finney will not remember who told him this.

But as a result, Finney makes no attempt to search for Clinton’s emails in response to FOIA requests. (Politico, 6/9/2016)

Shortly Before January 13, 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 (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (R) will ask Cooper in the hearing: “So, your testimony here today is that Huma Abedin said that she would prefer to have Ms. Clinton’s email on a private server versus a server that was actually managed by someone else? That’s your testimony?”

Cooper will reply, “My testimony is that that was communicated to me.”

He will also clarify that when it came to talking to Abedin, “I don’t recall conversations with her about the setting up of the server.” But he also will say, “At some point I had a conversation with her about the setting up of an email account for Secretary Clinton on the server.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

However, in Abedin’s April 2016 FBI interview, she will say nothing like this. In fact, she will deny even knowing the server existed until it was mentioned in the media, despite her having an email account hosted on the server for the entire duration of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and at least three email exchanges that show her discussing the server during that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 13, 2009: A Clinton aide registers the email domain that Clinton will use for her private server while Secretary of State.

Justin Cooper (Credit: Pave.com)

Justin Cooper (Credit: Pave.com)

Just prior to Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Justin Cooper registers three email domains for Hillary Clinton at her Chappaqua, New York, address. One domain, clintonemail.com, will be used for all of Clinton’s emails for at least the next five years. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

Cooper is a long-time personal assistant to Bill Clinton. However, he has “no security clearance and no particular expertise in safeguarding computers, according to three people briefed on the server setup.” (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)

January 20, 2009: Barack Obama takes office as president of the US.

Barack Obama takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on January 20, 2009. (Credit: Cecilio Ricardo / public domain)

Barack Obama takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on January 20, 2009. (Credit: Cecilio Ricardo / public domain)

He had been elected on November 6, 2008. He will win reelection in 2012.

Shortly Before January 21, 2009: Records officials are “not comfortable” advising Clinton she needs to permanently archive her work-related emails.

Shortly Before January 21, 2009: In an email exchange shortly before Clinton becomes secretary of state, records officials within the Bureau of Administration wonder if there is an electronic method that could be used to capture her emails because they are “not comfortable” advising the new administration to print and file email records. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

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.”

Obama, on his way to a campaign rally in New Hampshire last January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

Obama using a BlackBerry in New Hampshire, January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

His spokesperson Robert Gibbs says, “The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends, in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate.”

According to the Times, the rules Obama has to abide by are as follows:

  • “First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.
  • Second, anyone placed on the A-list to receive his email address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel’s office.
  • Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.
  • Additionally, he has to use a specially made device, which must be approved by national security officials.”

Aides tell the Times, “All of Mr. Obama’s email messages remain subject to the Presidential Records Act, which could ultimately put his words into the public domain, as well as under the threat of subpoenas. That was a caveat that did not dissuade the president.” (New York Times, 01/22/09)

January 21, 2009: Clinton is sworn in as secretary of state.

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Hillary Clinton being sworn in as secretary of state, with Bill Clinton assisting, administered by Associate Judge Kathryn Oberly. (Credit: US Department of State)

She resigns as senator from New York at the same time. She was confirmed by the Senate earlier the same day.

She will serve for all of President Obama’s first term, until February 2013. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

January 21, 2009: Despite Clinton becoming secretary of state on this day, there is no apparent change in the way her private email server is managed.

Clinton arrives at the State Department on January 22, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton arrives at the State Department on January 22, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Her server was installed in her house in Chappaqua, New York, and it continues to reside there. Her IT [Information Technology] expert Bryan Pagliano has been in charge of running it since 2008 as well, and continues to do so.

Yet the Washington Post will later report, “Four computer-security specialists interviewed by the Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.”

One of the specialists will comment, “For data of this sensitivity… we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 21, 2009: At the time Clinton takes office as secretary of state, the State Department allows the use of home computers for government officials as long as they are secure.

The New York Times will later note, “There appears to have been no prohibition on the exclusive use of a private server; it does not appear to be an option anyone had thought about.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) But the State Department requires that computers be officially certified as secure, and no evidence has emerged that Clinton’s server was given such a certification.

Additionally, the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) states, “Only department-issued or approved systems are authorized to connect to department enterprise networks.” (US Department of State)

One reason Clinton might want to use a private server is that the State Department computer systems at the time are widely considered inadequate and frustrating. One result of using a private server is that only a small fraction of emails used on the department’s systems will be permanently archived. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

January 21, 2009: President Obama pledges to increase government transparency.

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

During his swearing-in ceremony, Obama says, “Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

He adds, “Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known. […] The Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.” (The White House, 1/21/2009)

In November 2016, Slate will comment, “Needless to say, the agencies have not taken this order seriously, nor has Obama pressured or prodded them to do so. Many crises crowded his agenda soon after his inauguration, leaving the cause of government openness on the back burner, if not in the freezer.” (Slate, 11/2/2016)

Around January 21, 2009: The State Department sets up a classified email account for Clinton, but she never uses it.

Julia Frifield (Credit: CSpan)

According to a September 2015 letter from Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, “Secretary Clinton did not use a classified email account at the State Department. An account was set up on ClassNet on her calendar, but it was not used.”

ClassNet involves State Department workstations designed to allow employees to view classified information. (The Daily Caller, 2/23/2016)

In 2015, Clinton’s website will address how she read classified information: “The Secretary’s office was located in a secure area. Classified information was viewed in hard copy by Clinton while in the office. While on travel, the State Department had rigorous protocols for her and traveling staff to receive and transmit information of all types.” (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Most State Department officials claim they don’t know Clinton has a private email address or uses a private server.

A sample email of the "H" as it appears in an email sent by Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

A sample address with the “H” as it appears in an email sent by Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

A September 2016 FBI report will indicate that “some Clinton aides and senior-level State [Department] employees were aware Clinton used a personal email address for State business during her tenure [as secretary of state]. Clinton told the FBI it was common knowledge at State that she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails. However, some State employees interviewed by the FBI explained that emails from Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.”

The report also notes, “The majority of the State employees interviewed by the FBI who were in email contact with Clinton indicated they had no knowledge of the private server in her Chappaqua residence.”

Even Clinton’s closest aides like her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will claim they didn’t know, though there is evidence that suggests otherwise (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: 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.”

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

However, according to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Clinton would leave the SCIF to use her BlackBerry, often visiting the eighth floor balcony to do so. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will later tell the FBI that he never received any complaints about Clinton using her BlackBerry inside the SCIF.

In contrast to the above evidence, in her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim that after her first month as secretary of state, she never brought her BlackBerry into the SCIF area at all, because she had been clearly told not to do that. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Hundreds of Clinton’s emails are printed out by a Bill Clinton staffer; he may have a relevant security clearance.

Clinton presents a letter of congratulations and signed photo to Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Makin Island on April 1, 2010. (Credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill / US Navy)

Clinton presents a letter of congratulations and signed photo to Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Makin Island on April 1, 2010. (Credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill / US Navy)

A September 2016 FBI report will mention that the FBI determined “hundreds of emails” were sent by Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and other State Department staffers to a member of Bill Clinton’s staff so he could print them out for Clinton. His name will be redacted, but he is almost certainly Oscar Flores, because the report will mention that he is a member of the US Navy Reserves, which Flores is at the time.

Some of these emails will later be determined to contain information classified at the “confidential” level, including six email chains forwarded by Abedin and one email chain forwarded by Clinton.

But the FBI will determine that Flores received a security clearance at the “secret” level on October 25, 2007 from the Defense Department. Furthermore, although Flores retires from the US Navy Reserves in September 2010, there is no indication his security clearance is deactivated at that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Hundreds of classified emails are sent or received by Clinton while she is outside the US, including some to or from President Obama.

Clinton boards the State Department jet with her BlackBerry, destination unknown. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton boards the State Department jet while using her BlackBerry, date and location are unknown. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

This is according to a September 2016 FBI report. The report indicates that Clinton and her immediate staff were repeatedly “notified of foreign travel risks and were warned that digital threats began immediately upon landing in a foreign country, since connection of a mobile device to a local network provides opportunities for foreign adversaries to intercept voice and email transmissions.”

Additionally, the State Department has a Mobile Communications Team responsible for establishing secure mobile voice and data communications for Clinton and her team wherever they travel. But even so, Clinton and her staff frequently use their private and unsecure mobile devices and private email accounts while overseas.

The number of Clinton emails sent or received outside the US will be redacted in the FBI report. Although it will mention that “hundreds” were classified at the “confidential” level, additional details are redacted. Nearly all mentions of “top secret” emails are redacted in the report, so it’s impossible to know if any of those are sent while Clinton is overseas.

The report will mention that some emails between Clinton and President Obama are sent while Clinton is overseas. However, the exact number will be redacted. None of these overseas emails between them will be deemed to contain classified information. According to the report, “Clinton told the FBI that she received no particular guidance as to how she should use President Obama’s email address…”

The details of the FBI’s report on Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview will indicate that Clinton emailed Obama on July 1, 2012 from Russia. However, it is not clear if she sent the email from on the ground or on a plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)