April 6, 2015: Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Michael Flynn says it’s very likely foreign governments have Clinton’s emails.

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn (The Daily Caller)

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn (The Daily Caller)

He is asked in an interview, “What do you think the odds are that the Chinese, the Russians hacked into [Clinton’s] server and her email account?” He replies, “Very high. […] They’re very good at it. China, Russia, Iran, potentially the North Koreans. And other countries who may be ‘our allies’ because they can.” He adds that since Clinton’s only excuse for using the private server was convenience, she should have been fired.

The DIA is similar to the CIA, but focuses on military intelligence. Since retiring in 2014, Flynn has been notably critical of President Obama. (The Weekly Standard, 4/7/2015) (CNN, 2/13/2016) 

By January 2016, Flynn will occasionally advise Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Bloomberg News, 1/31/2016) In February 2016, Flynn will say, “I think Hillary Clinton, for the good of the country, should step down [from the presidential race] and let this FBI investigation play out.” (The Daily Caller, 2/10/2016)

April 8, 2015—June 9, 2015: 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.

150408TV5MondePierreVerdyAFP

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)

 

April 9, 2015: 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 10, 2015: Clinton’s staff hosts a private “off-the-record” cocktail party with 38 “influential” reporters, anchors, and editors.

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

In an April 10, 2015 email, Clinton’s deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson describes an “off-the-record” cocktail party for “key national reporters, influential reporters, anchors and editors. … Especially (though not exclusively) those that are based in New York.” Top level Clinton staff are also invited. It is to take place one day later in the home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, in the Upper East Side of New York City.

The memo also lists the pre-campaign goals Clinton’s staff hopes to achieve by having the cocktail party:

  • Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC [Clinton] in advance of the announcement
  • Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period
  • Framing the HRC message and framing the race
  •  Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more

Thirty-eight “influential reporters, anchors and editors” are also listed, and agree to attend the party. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

A second email sent on Apil 6, 2015 indicates a second dinner party is also planned for “April 9th at 7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).” (Wikileaks, 10/16/2016)

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

These emails will be released by Wikileaks in October, 2016.

April 12, 2015: Hillary Clinton launches her second presidential campaign.

Clinton launches her 2016 presidential campaign with a YouTube video on April 12, 2015. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton launches her 2016 presidential campaign with a YouTube video on April 12, 2015. (Credit: CNN)

She narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008. Due to her long and prominent political career, she immediately establishes herself as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination. (The New York Times, 4/13/2015) 

She resigns from the board of directors of the Clinton Foundation on the same day to avoid conflict of interest issues. (Politico, 4/12/2015)

April 15, 2015: A computer expert privately advises the Clinton campaign to hire a company to investigate if Clinton’s private server was hacked.

Barbara Simons (Credit: public domain)

Barbara Simons (Credit: public domain)

Barbara Simons, a renowned computer expert, writes Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in an email, “I am following up on our very brief discussion, held as you were leaving the DA meeting, about Hillary Clinton’s emails.  I’ve included a summary of the issues and a precautionary step that I think should be taken.”

Simons attaches a short document to the email, which is entitled, “Hillary Clinton’s emails and what to do about them.” In it, she writes, “I believe that this is a more serious situation than perhaps Secretary Clinton and her aides realize. … There is a very real risk that the system was broken into, possibly by Republican operatives (or China or some other country or organization).  If this has happened and if there is anything that might appear problematic in those emails, whether or not it actually is, the relevant emails might be released to the press shortly before the election.  Even if the system was not broken into, there is the threat that opponents might release forged emails that are difficult to impossible to distinguish from real ones.”

Jeremy Epstein a program manager with I2O, took his official photo on March 8, 2016 at DARPA in Arlington, Va. (Photo By: Sun L. Vega)

Jeremy Epstein (Credit: Sun L. Vega)

As a result, she and a prominent computer security expert Jeremy Epstein suggest that the Clinton campaign hire a cybersecurity company called Mandiant. They are said to be competent and discrete in dealing with major corporate hacks. They will try to determine if Clinton’s private server was hacked. However, Simons notes that “if nothing serious is uncovered by a forensics examination, that does not prove that nothing happened.  Regrettably, the absence of proof of a break-in is not proof of the absence of a break-in.” (WikiLeaks, 10/23/2016)

Whatever reply Podesta gives is unknown. It is also unknown if Mandiant or any other company is ever hired. However, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report will make no mention of any evidence of such a forensic examination.

April 23, 2015: Petraeus is given a remarkably lenient plea bargain despite his serious security violations.

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

A federal judge sentences former CIA director and general David Petraeus to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine for giving his biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell, access to notebooks, classified information about official meetings, war strategy, and intelligence capabilities. Petraeus had been the CIA director from 2011 to 2012, but he was forced to quit due to the scandal. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015) 

The FBI seeks jail time for him, but doesn’t get it due to the plea bargain with the Justice Department. The New York Times will later report that FBI Director James Comey made the case to Attorney General Eric Holder that “Mr. Petraeus deserved to face strenuous charges. But the Justice Department overruled the FBI, and the department allowed Mr. Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.” (The New York Times, 10/16/2015) The sentence is considered surprisingly light, given the evidence.

In 2016, the Washington Post will report, “FBI officials were angered by the deal and predicted it would affect the outcome of other cases involving classified information.” One former US law enforcement official will complain the deal “was handled so lightly for his offense there isn’t a whole lot you can do.” (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016)

April 29, 2015: Politico’s chief political correspondent says to Podesta, “Because I have become a hack, I will send u the whole section that pertains to u.”

Glenn Thrush (Credit: Politico)

Glenn Thrush (Credit: Politico)

Politico’s chief political correspondent and senior staff writer Glenn Thrush emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta a large portion of a piece he is writing, entitled “Hillary’s Big-Money Dilemma.”

Thrush appears to be asking for Podesta’s approval of a story he is writing about Clinton’s problems with building a small donor base.

Thrush writes to Podesta, “Hey sir— sorry to bother — OTR [off the record] question. Was working on a fundraising story… Been talking to bundlers who told me that one of the reasons you need to get [Clinton] out on the road was simply that the Hillfunders mid-level strategy was[n’t] getting enough traction and you had to mine the old ’08 crowd a little quicker than u thought…  Also – to be a pain in the ass – I’ve heard that u were never entirely on board with the whole ‘flat’ idea in the first place.  Cheers/Thrush”

John Podesta (Credit: Carlo Barria / Reuters)

John Podesta (Credit: Carlo Barria / Reuters)

Podesta replies, “I’m the sultan of flat. My whole pitch is all are welcome and grow the network.”

Thrush then asks Podesta, “Can I send u a couple of grafs [paragraphs], OTR [off the record], to make sure I’m not fucking anything up?”

Podesta replies “sure.”

Thrush writes back, “I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this. Tell me if I fucked up anything.” He includes five paragraphs from the article he is preparing to publish.

The following day, Podesta tells Thrush, “no problems here.” (WikiLeaks, 10/17/2016)

The five paragraphs appear in almost identical form in the final version of the article that is published two days later on May 1, 2015. (Politico, 5/1/2015)

After Thrush’s email is released by WikiLeaks in October 2016, Thrush will be accused of lacking journalistic ethics. On October 17, 2016, he will post the following tweet: “My goal in emailing Podesta: TO GET HIM TO CONFIRM STUFF I HAD FROM LESSER SOURCES. It worked. Nobody controls my stories but me. Troll on!” (Twitter, 10/17/2016)

Early May 2015—Early July 2015: Patrick Kennedy and other State Department officials allegedly attempt to change or remove the classification codes of some Clinton emails to make their release less politically damaging for Clinton.

An unnamed State Department official who worked in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) will be interviewed by the FBI on August 17, 2015. She will claim there was a deliberate effort to change some Clinton emails bearing the “B(1)” code, which classifies information due to “national security,” to the “B(5)” code, which classifies information mostly due to “interagency or intra-agency communications.”

This person “believed there was interference with the formal [Freedom of Information Act] FOIA review process. Specifically, [the State Department’s] Near East Affairs Bureau upgraded several of Clinton’s emails to a classified level with a B(1) release exemption. [Redacted] along with [redacted] attorney, Office of Legal Counsel called State’s Near East Affairs Bureau and told them they could use a B(5) exemption on an upgraded email to protect it instead of the B(1) exemption.”

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy (Credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy (Credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)

The interviewee reported in early May 2015 that Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy “held a closed-door meeting with [redacted]  and [redacted] [Justice Department’s] Office of Information Programs where Kennedy pointedly asked [redacted] to change the FBI’s classification determination regarding one of Clinton’s emails, which the FBI considered classified. The email was related to FBI counter-terrorism operations.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

In October 2016, Fox News will report, “This appears to be one of two emails that kick-started the FBI [Clinton email investigation] in the summer of 2015.” (Fox News, 10/6/2016) The email in question was sent on November 18, 2012 by department official Bill Roebuck and forwarded to Clinton by her aide Jake Sullivan. If Kennedy tried to change the classified code on this email he must have failed, because when the email is published on May 22, 2015, it is classified at the “secret” level (the medium level below “top secret”) due to a section using the B(1) code. (US Department of State, 5/22/2015)

However, classification codes may be changed on other emails. On August 26, 2015, Fox News will report that “Kennedy, who was deeply involved in the Benghazi controversy, is running interference on the classified email controversy on Capitol Hill. Two sources confirmed that Kennedy went to Capitol Hill in early July [2015] and argued [the November 18, 2012] email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan [plus one other email] did not contain classified material. … One participant found it odd Kennedy insisted on having the discussion in a secure facility for classified information, known as a SCIF,” although Kennedy claimed the two emails were unclassified. (Fox News, 8/26/2015)

Then, on September 1, 2015, Fox News will report that “At least four classified Hillary Clinton emails had their markings changed to a category that shields the content from Congress and the public… in what State Department whistleblowers believed to be an effort to hide the true extent of classified information on the former secretary of state’s server. The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May [2015], was confirmed by two sources — one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department’s legal office, the designation was switched to ‘B5’…”

Kate Duval (Credit: LinkedIn)

Kate Duval (Credit: LinkedIn)

One of the lawyers in the office where the changes are made is Kate Duval, who once worked for Williams & Connolly, the same law firm as Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall.  Duval also served as an attorney and advisor in the Obama Administration on oversight issues and high-profile investigations, most recently at the Department of State and, before that, as Counselor to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. There are internal department complaints that Duval, and a second lawyer also linked to Kendall, “gave at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest during the email review. A State Department spokesman did not dispute the basic facts of the incident, confirming to Fox News the disagreement over the four classified emails as well as the internal complaints. But the spokesman said the concerns were unfounded.” (Fox News, 9/1/2015)

Kennedy will also be interviewed by the FBI on December 21, 2015. Redactions will make the interview summary difficult to follow, but apparently he will be asked about these accusations. He will say that while the official who accused him “says it like it is” and has “no fear of telling truth to power,” he “categorically rejected” the allegations of classified code tampering. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

May 15, 2015: Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell says he believes some foreign intelligence agencies possess the contents of Clinton’s private email server.

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell (Credit: Time)

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell (Credit: Time)

He says, “I think that foreign intelligence services, the good ones, have everything on any unclassified network that the government uses.” (Politico, 5/15/2015) Morrell was acting CIA director twice under President Obama before retiring in 2013.

May 18, 2015: A journalist gives Clinton’s campaign manager extensive advice on how to improve Clinton’s campaign.

Hill columnist Brent Budowsky writes an email with the subject heading “John, be careful” to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta about attacks Clinton opponents will launch during the 2016 race.

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Budowsky writes, “I am not going to raise this publicly, but one of [Clinton’s] opponents will soon charge that she is running an ‘imperial campaign.’ If it is the right opponent, Democrat or Republican, the charge will resonate.”

He suggests that “probably 90 percent of the total media coverage of [Clinton] has a negative slant, from her paid speeches to foundation donations to not answering questions from the press.”

Budowsky also warns, “Her caution on policy has created a news vacuum that is filled by these other stories. While I don’t have the highest regard for most of the campaign press corps, they are getting dangerously unhappy about [Clinton] refusing to answer questions. If we look at a long curve of her numbers, there is reason for serious concern if trends continue, and I see nothing today that will change them unless Clinton changes her strategy,”

He also voices concern that “he’s heard from many, many Democrats and that there is something off-key about her campaign. The hope that Republican candidates are so bad she can win by playing cautious. That is a very dangerous way to run for president.”

Budowsky concludes, “There is a missing element in her campaign and it is troubling. The ‘imperial campaign’ charge will resonate when the right candidate figures it out.”

Podesta responds, “Message heard, although I think caution will ultimately be measured by what she says and what she’s for rather than how many press gaggles she does.”

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

May 19, 2015: A federal judge orders the gradual release of all of Clinton’s work-related emails.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras orders the State Department to release the over 30,000 Clinton emails from her time as secretary of state in small batches, with redactions of any classified information. The State Department says it will finish doing so by January 29, 2016. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016

Over the next several months, the State Department will release 30,068 emails in 14 batches, with the final batch getting released one month late, on February 29, 2016. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

May 22, 2015: Blumenthal “may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton.”

Bloomberg News comments, “The extent to which [Sid] Blumenthal may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton as secretary of state has been an emerging line of inquiry” for the House Benghazi Committee. Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance who nonetheless sent Clinton hundreds of emails containing intelligence information, including classified information. (Bloomberg News, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015: The first batch of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state are made public by the State Department.

This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)

May 26, 2015: The DNC favors Clinton’s presidential ambitions from the start, and wants to “muddy the waters around ethics, transparency, and campaign finance attacks’ to protect her.

The Democratic National Committee goals and strategy (Credit: The Democratic National Committee)

The Democratic National Committee goals and strategy (Credit: The Democratic National Committee)

In June 2016, it will be revealed that hackers broke into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and someone nicknamed “Guccifer 2.0” will post documents that appear to come from the network. One such file is dated from May 26, 2015. It contains advice on how Clinton can win the presidency, even though the Democratic presidential primary campaign has just begun and the DNC is supposed to be neutral until one Democratic candidate wins the nomination.

A portion of the file states: “Reporter Outreach: Working through the DNC and others, we should use background briefings, prep with reporters for interviews with GOP candidates, off-the-record conversations and oppo pitches to help pitch stories with no fingerprints and utilize reporters to drive a message.” The same document also advises: “Use specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency, and campaign finance attacks on HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton].”

The document specifies it is addressed to the DNC, but is not clear who exactly wrote the file. (Inquisitr, 6/15/2016)

Early June 2015: Two inspectors general join forces to look into Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address when she was secretary of state.

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has already begun investigating Clinton’s emails and he and his staff read through hundreds of her emails. He has Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough get involved due to intelligence agencies having greater experience with classified records.

The concerns of the two inspectors general will continue to grow, leading them to ask the FBI to begin an investigation in early July 2015. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

June 14, 2015: Obama’s former chief of staff Bill Daley says he never knew Clinton used a private server.

Bill Daley (Credit: NBC / Meet the Press)

Bill Daley (Credit: NBC / Meet the Press)

Daley was White House chief of staff to President Obama from January 2011 to January 2012. He says, “Obviously, it was something that I did not know and others didn’t…”

A reporter presses him, “So you had no idea at all that there was a server over at the Clintons’ residence?”

Daley responds, “No. How would I know that?” (NBC News, 6/14/2015)

June 16, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee deposes Sid Blumenthal behind closed doors.

Sid Blumenthal on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on June 16, 2015. (Credit: Reuters)

Sid Blumenthal on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on June 16, 2015. (Credit: Reuters)

Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, journalist, and Clinton Foundation employee. He gives the committee nearly 60 emails between him and Clinton about Benghazi and/or Libya that the committee didn’t have before. (CBS News, 6/16/2015) The emails will be publicly released one week later.

However, Committee head Trey Gowdy (R) will reject a request from the Committee’s Democrats and Blumenthal’s attorney to release a transcript of Blumenthal’s nearly nine-hour long testimony. Gowdy will say, “Releasing transcripts can impact the recollections of other witnesses, jeopardize the efficacy of the investigation, alert witnesses to lines of inquiry best not made public, and publicize personal information.” (The Hill, 6/22/2015)

June 16, 2015: Blumenthal was passing unvetted intelligence from a retired CIA official directly to Clinton.

The Osprey Global Solutions logo (Credit: Osprey Global Solutions)

The Osprey Global Solutions logo (Credit: Osprey Global Solutions)

Although Sid Blumenthal testifies before the House Benghazi Committee in a secret session, a Politico article later on the same day as his testimony reveals some of what he says.

Blumenthal, a journalist and private citizen with no security clearance, frequently wrote emails to Clinton that contained detailed intelligence assessments from various parts of the world, especially Libya. Blumenthal reportedly tells the committee that he doesn’t write or even know the ultimate source of any of his Libyan intelligence he sent to Clinton. Instead, he was copying and pasting memos from Tyler Drumheller, a former CIA operative. Blumenthal and Drumheller were involved in a Libya-related business opportunity called Osprey Global Solutions.

Trey Gowdy (R), head of the committee, says, “One of the folks providing [Clinton] the largest volume of information was simply and merely a conduit of someone who may have had business interest in Libya. We have a CIA, so why would you not rely on your own vetted source intelligence agency? In this case, there was no vetting, no analysis of credibility whatsoever.”

Blumenthal claims his advice was unsolicited and he wasn’t being paid for passing on the information. Committee investigators say Blumenthal’s emails about Libya make up more than a third of all of Clinton’s Libya-related emails.

And although Blumenthal was being paid $120,000 a year as an adviser to The Clinton Foundation, he says his salary there “had nothing whatsoever to do with my emails to my friend” Clinton. He also claims the Libyan business venture with Drumheller was a “humanitarian-assistance idea for medical care in which I had little involvement, never got off the ground, in which no money was ever exchanged, no favor sought and which had nothing to do with my sending these emails.” (Politico, 6/16/2015) 

Drumheller will die of pancreatic cancer on August 2, 2015, a month and a half later. It’s unclear if he’s questioned by investigators before his death. If Blumenthal got most or all of his intelligence from Drumheller, it’s unclear where Drumheller got it from, since his 25-year CIA career ended in 2005. (The Washington Post, 8/16/2015)

June 22, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee releases nearly 60 emails between Clinton and Sid Blumenthal related to Libyan policy.

The committee says the emails should have been provided to them by Clinton but weren’t. (The Hill, 6/22/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 6/22/2015) Ten emails and parts of five others from Blumenthal are work-related but weren’t included when Clinton claims she handed over all of her work-related emails in December 2014. (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)

June 24, 2015—August 6, 2015: Clinton’s emails are not properly secured with her lawyer.

The location of Williams & Connolly LLP offices, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Google Earth)

The location of Williams & Connolly LLP offices, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Google Earth)

On June 24, 2015, Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough learns in a letter written by Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall that copies of Clinton’s emails are being kept on a thumb drive in a safe in Kendall’s Washington, DC, office. This concerns McCullough, since those emails may still contain highly classified information.

The next day, McCullough calls an FBI official and has that person work with the State Department to give Kendall a government-issued safe to store the thumb drive instead. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015

The safe is installed in the office Kendall shares with his Williams & Connolly law partner Katherine Turner on July 6. Kendall and Turner had both recently gotten security clearances. (Politico, 8/25/2015) 

However, concerns soon arise that some of Clinton’s emails may contain “top secret” classified material, and even the new safe may not be secure enough. Additionally, the security clearances of Kendall and Turner may not be high enough to allow them to read or possess top secret information. Further security arrangements are made, although it’s not clear what those are.

Kendall finally turns the thumb drive over to the FBI on August 6, ending the problem. (Politico, 9/17/2015)

June 25, 2015: The State Department is no longer sure Clinton turned over all her work-related emails.

Three days after the House Benghazi Committee released 60 newly uncovered emails between Clinton and Sid Blumenthal related to Libyan policy given to the committee by Blumenthal, the State Department announces Clinton didn’t provide them with the Blumenthal emails either. Clinton has claimed she gave all her work-related emails to the State Department. However, department officials say they are no longer certain she complied with their order to turn over all work emails.

The department confirms that ten emails and parts of five others from Blumenthal regarding Benghazi could not be located in their records, but that the 45 other, previously unreleased Libya-related Blumenthal emails published by the committee were in their records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill seems to dispute it, saying, “She has turned over 55,000 pages of materials to the State Department, including all emails in her possession from Mr. Blumenthal.” (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)

In August 2015, The New York Times will comment, “The Clinton campaign has not explained the discrepancy.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) More of Clinton’s work emails will be discovered later, including some found by the State Department. (The Hill, 3/24/2016)

Late June 2015: A State Department official claims to have no knowledge of Clinton’s private server, but later evidence will suggest otherwise.

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

John Bentel, director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office while Clinton was secretary of state, is questioned behind closed doors by the House Benghazi Committee. According to a later account by his lawyer Randy Turk, Bentel testifies he has “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server and only learned about it from the newspapers in March 2015.

In early 2016, he will refuse to speak to Congressional investigators and then refuse to speak to a State Department inspector general’s investigators. But the inspector general’s report released in May 2016 will uncover emails and other witness accounts suggesting Bentel did know about her private server and that he stopped his staffers from taking action to keep Clinton’s email practices within the law. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

Summer 2015—May 2016: One or more hackers access the DNC’s computer network.

CrowdStrike logo (Credit: CrowdStrike)

CrowdStrike logo (Credit: CrowdStrike)

In June 2016, it will be reported that the computer network of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was compromised for about a year. Around May 2016, the security company CrowdStrike is hired by the DNC to investigate and stop the hacking attack. According to CrowdStrike, there actually are two different groups that successfully break into the network, both of them linked to the Russian government.

The first group is said to be known by the nickname Cozy Bear. In 2015, it allegedly successfully infiltrated the unclassified networks of the White House, State Department, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others. This group gets into the DNC’s network in the summer of 2015 and is not stopped until May 2016.

The second group is said to be known by the nickname Fancy Bear, and it also has had many other successful attacks. It gets into the network in April 2016 and also is stopped in May 2016.

On June 15, 2016, someone going by the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” posts DNC files on the Internet. This person claims to have no connection to the Russian government, but also claims to have accessed the DNC network for “almost a year,” which is similar to what CrowdStrike says about Cozy Bear. (CrowdStrike.com, 6/15/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/15/2016)

Shortly After July 6, 2015: FBI Director Comey wants no special treatment for the Clinton email investigation.

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

At some point in late summer, after two inspectors general sent a “security referral” about Clinton’s emails to the FBI on July 6, 2015, FBI Director James Comey meet with John Giacalone, head of the FBI’s National Security Branch. Giacalone briefs Comey on the referral and says he wants to investigate how classified secrets got in the emails and whether anyone had committed a crime in the process.

Comey agrees, but according to Giacalone, “He wanted to make sure it was treated the same way as all other cases.” Giacalone will retire in February 2016, leaving the case to others. (Time, 3/31/2016)

July 10, 2015: The FBI’s Clinton investigation formally begins.

In September 2016, the FBI will reveal in a publicly released report, “On July 10, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a full investigation based upon a referral received from the US Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), submitted in accordance with Section 81 1(c) of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 and dated July 6, 2015, regarding the potential unauthorized transmission and storage of classified information on the personal email server of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The FBI’s investigation focused on determining whether classified information was transmitted or stored on unclassified systems in violation of federal criminal statutes and whether classified information was compromised by unauthorized individuals, to include foreign governments or intelligence services, via cyber intrusion or other means.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

However, according to an account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this merely formalized it. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 20, 2015: A federal judge criticizes “the State Department for four years dragging their feet” over their release of some Clinton’s documents.

Judge Richard J. Leon (Credit: Borderland Beat)

Judge Richard J. Leon (Credit: Borderland Beat)

US District Judge Richard J. Leon is responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, mostly relating to Clinton’s daily calendars and schedules, not her emails. (Politico, 7/20/2015Leon says that “even the least ambitious bureaucrat” could process the request faster than the State Department’s efforts. The Associated Press is suing the State Department to release more documents. (Foreign Policy, 7/30/2015)

July 23, 2015: Accounts differ if the FBI has started a criminal investigation into Clinton’s emails.

The New York Times reports that “two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation” into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in Clinton’s emails. (The FBI works for the Justice Department.)

The next day, a Justice Department confirms the report. But later in the day, the Justice Department backs away from its characterization of the referral as “criminal.” (The New York Times, 7/24/2015) (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015) Indeed, such a request was made on July 6, 2015. But technically, the referral is called a “security referral” and not a criminal one.

However, it will later emerge that the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails actually began in late May 2015, thus making the dispute over the type of referral largely a moot point. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 24, 2015: A longtime Clinton advisor says whoever told Clinton she could use a private email should be “drawn and quartered.”

Neera Tanden (Credit: Alchetron)

Neera Tanden (Credit: Alchetron)

Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered? Like whole thing is fucking insane.”

If Podesta gives any answer, it is unknown.

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/27/2016)

July 24, 2015: Many of Clinton’s emails contained classified information when they were sent, not just retroactively.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick issue a joint statement about their inquiry into Clinton’s emails. The statement says that out of a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails, Linick found four emails containing information that should have been classified at the time they were sent. “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to [Intelligence Community] classification officials, that information remains classified today. This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.” (US Department of State, 7/24/2015) 

One email will later be declassified by the State Department, and the department will dispute the classification of another one. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

July 24, 2015: Clinton’s account conflicts with the account of two inspectors general.

Responding to news that several “top secret” documents were found among Clinton’s emails, her campaign says that any government secrets found on the server had been classified after the fact. But the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough write in a joint statement that the information they found was classified when it was sent and remains so now. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015)

July 25, 2015: Clinton says, “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.”

This is a shift from previous statements where she claimed her emails didn’t contain any classified material at all. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) Clinton also says that very few issues have emerged in her publicly released emails so far. “We’re talking about four or fewer.” However, the Wall Street Journal notes, “The inspector general has reviewed only about 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, though, suggesting that more secret or top-secret information could be found in the thousands… that remain.” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2015)

July 29, 2015: Congressional Republicans are increasingly concerned about Clinton’s lawyer possessing her emails.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Senator Ron Johnson (R), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a letter to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall. He asks him what he’s done to “safeguard the classified material in (his) possession,” meaning a thumb drive containing Clinton’s emails.

Bradley Moss, a lawyer who handles national security information, comments: “As a general rule, private non-government individuals, even those maintaining a security clearance, are not authorized to privately store classified information. […] I’m not aware of any other private lawyer who has a clearance being allowed to do what is being permitted here.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/30/2015) 

The FBI will finally take all the copies of the emails from Kendall on August 6, 2015.