June 16, 2016: Recent alleged Russian hacking attacks appear to have focused on Clinton and the DNC and not other presidential campaigns.

SecureWorks Logo (Credit: SecureWorks)

SecureWorks Logo (Credit: SecureWorks)

SecureWorks is a cybersecurity company that apparently has been hired to investigate recent leaks targeting US government officials, departments, and related entities. Focusing on the hacking group known as Fancy Bear (or APT 28), they conclude with “moderate confidence that the group is operating from the Russian Federation and is gathering intelligence on behalf of the Russian government.” They also conclude that the group targeted Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].

However, SecureWorks have not observed Fancy Bear “[target] the US Republican party or the other US presidential candidates whose campaigns were active between mid-March and mid-May [2016]: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.” But they point out the other campaigns could have been targeted by other means not noticed by them. (SecureWorks, 6/16/2016)

June 16, 2016: Various clues suggest that “Guccifer 2.0” could be a front for Russian hacking efforts.

Copy of the metadata and the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky, written in the Cyrillic alphabet. (Credit: Ars Technica)

Copy of the metadata and the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky, written in the Cyrillic alphabet. (Credit: Ars Technica)

On June 15, 2016, someone going by the name “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to be the “lone hacker” behind the breach of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] computer network reported in the media the day before.

However, various clues support the assertion by security experts hired by the DNC that the hacking effort is connected to the Russian government or at least originates from Russia:

  • The metadata of one file sent by Guccifer 2.0 to Gawker contains metadata indicating the last person to change the file used the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky (Феликс Эдмундович), a long-dead Russian statesman best known for founding the Soviet secret police.
  • The nickname is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which means Guccifer 2.0’s computer was configured to use the Russian language and was connected to a Russian-language keyboard.
  • Another file contains some broken web links. The error message is also written in Russian, using the Cyrillic alphabet.
  • A blog post written by Guccifer 2.0 uses “)))” to indicate a smiley face. This is common in Eastern Europe and Russia but very uncommon elsewhere, due to differences with the Russian-language keyboard. (Ars Technica, 6/16/2016)
  • Other metadata indicates the person who saved the files used a cracked version of Office 2007, which is popular in Russia.
  • Vice News reports that Guccifer 2.0 had no online history prior to June 15, and “multiple security sources said they’d never heard of nor seen anyone by that alias” before that date. (Vice News, 6/16/2016)
  • Dave Aitel, CEO of Immunity Security, comments, “You don’t have the FBI or DHS [Department of Homeland Security] coming out and saying: ‘Hey we don’t think it’s Russia.’ If it is Russia, a nation state, it’s a pretty big deal. Otherwise the FBI would say: ‘We’re conducting an investigation.’ But they’re not saying that.”

Ars Technica comments, “Of course, it’s still possible that the Russian fingerprints were left intentionally by someone who has no connection to Russia, or by a Russian-speaking person with no connection to the Russian government, or any number of other scenarios.” (Ars Technica, 6/16/2016)

June 17, 2016: Former FBI agents are wondering why the FBI’s Clinton investigation is taking so long.

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Former FBI agent and former district attorney Edward C. Cosgrove says that he has been in contact with other former FBI agents, and “Most former FBI agents cannot understand why the FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not been concluded.”

He wonders why the investigation has gone on for about a year, and yet it “has not been turned over to the attorney general [Loretta Lynch] for her prosecutive judgment.” (The Buffalo News, 6/17/2016)

June 17, 2016: A “deadman’s switch” file increases speculation that WikiLeaks could soon release more Clinton documents.

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the "deadman's switch" and a "risk insurance" picture. Credit: public domain)

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the “deadman’s switch” and a “risk insurance” picture. Credit: public domain)

WikiLeaks posts on the Internet an 88-gigabyte encrypted file labeled “WIKILEAKS INSURANCE,” along with the comment, “Protect our coming publications.” This is believed to be a “deadman’s switch,” meaning that unless WikiLeaks personnel are not there to periodically confirm their status, the file will be automatically decrypted, revealing its contents to those who have downloaded it. WikiLeaks have posted several similar files in previous years.

Heavy.com notes that because of recent comments by WikiLeaks head Julian Assange that the organization will soon be publishing more of Clinton’s emails, “many people are wondering if this insurance file is meant to ensure that WikiLeaks can release potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” The file is large enough to contain millions of files if they are all text-based files, but it could include video or other files that take up much more space.

Heavy.com also notes that the reason WikiLeaks doesn’t simply post the files right away is, “The organization often combs through files to redact any sensitive information that might put lives in danger. The INSURANCE file is typically the unredacted version.” (Heavy.com, 6/17/2016)

June 17, 2016: Some cybersecurity experts doubt the Russian government is behind recent hacking attacks.

Nathaniel Gleicher (Credit: Carmen Holt)

Nathaniel Gleicher (Credit: Carmen Holt)

Time Magazine notes that although CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to stop the hacking of their computer network, claims the Russian government is behind the attacks, other security experts are skeptical. Someone calling themselves “Guccifer 2.0” has posted some files that appear to come from the DNC hack, and that person claims to be a “lone hacker.”

CrowdStrike asserts this is just an effort to sow confusion about Russian involvement, but some experts doubt that as well.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the former director for cybersecurity policy on the NSC [National Security Council], says, “Attribution is incredibly difficult—I wouldn’t say impossible, but it’s very difficult.”

Reg Harnish, the CEO of the cybersecurity company GreyCastle Security, says the final answer may still be unknown, with political intrigues complicating the picture. “I’ve been personally involved in hundreds of these investigations, and you just don’t end up in the same place where you began. […] I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there right now.”

Scott Borg, the head of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, echoed the skepticism. “Our best guess is that the second (and apparently less skillful) of the two intruders was not Russian intelligence. We are also uncertain about the first group.”

So far, the FBI has not made any comment. (Time, 6/17/2016)

June 18, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 publishes more of the DNC’s financial documents.

A sample of the data released by Guccifer 2.0, revealing personal information of DNC donors. (Credit: Guccifer 2.0)

A sample of the data released by Guccifer 2.0, revealing personal information of DNC donors. (Credit: Guccifer 2.0)

Two days after emerging to post some DNC [Democratic National Committee] documents on the Internet, the hacker known by the nickname Guccifer 2.0 publishes some more.

This person comments on their new website, “It appears there are a lot of financial reports, donors lists, and their detailed personal information, including e-mail addresses and private cell phone numbers…I got tons of files and docs.” This person also promises to post more soon.

Business Insider notes: “The Washington Post’s initial report stated that the hacker’s avoidance of donor information indicates that the breach was likely the work of ‘traditional espionage,’ but the new information posted by Guccifer 2.0, if legitimate, seems to discredit that line of thinking.”

The DNC has not confirmed that the documents are genuine, but has not denied it either. It is unknown who Guccifer 2.0 is, but security experts hired by the DNC assert the Russian government is behind the leaks. (Business Insider, 6/18/2016)

June 18, 2016: Trump says Sanders is waiting for the FBI to knock Clinton out of the presidential race.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump notes that Bernie Sanders hasn’t quit the Democratic primary race despite Clinton having a majority of the pledged delegates and even more superdelegates. Trump says, “He’s waiting for the FBI to do what everybody thinks they’re going to do. I think he’s saying, ‘Let’s hang in there because it’s ultimately called the FBI convention. […] We’ll see if the right thing happens.’ Everybody knows what the right thing is.”

Sanders hasn’t made any comment that he’s waiting for the FBI’s decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment or not. (CNN, 6/18/2016)

June 19, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch say she’s never spoken with President Obama about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

“We’ve never discussed the Clinton case. I’ve never spoken about it with the president or really anyone at the White House. That’s not the kind of relationship that I have with the people there, and it would be inappropriate to do so.”

She also says Obama’s recent endorsement of Clinton doesn’t create a conflict of interest, even though she’s an Obama appointee. “I don’t get involved on whom the president endorses.” (The Hill, 6/19/2016)

June 20, 2016: The RNC files a motion in a civil suit demanding that the State Department speed the release of emails from three former top Clinton aides.

Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 12, 2012. (Credit: Getty Images)

Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 12, 2012. (Credit: Getty Images)

Two weeks earlier, the department claimed it could take 75 years to process the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request by the RNC [Republican National Committee]. The RNC is asking for more emails from Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano. They have dropped a request for emails from former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, due to the department’s claim of being overwhelmed.

The RNC criticizes the department’s “tortoise-like” response, and claims it is using “stall tactics” and misleading legal tricks in order to delay the release until after the November 2016 presidential election. It lambasts the department’s claim that it can process only 500 pages of emails a month, noting that would set a historical record for the slowest department response time to FOIA requests.

It is probable that the emails would contain previously unknown emails to and from Clinton, since recently released emails from former Clinton aide Huma Abedin have done so. (The Hill, 6/21/2016)

June 20, 2016: Two more cybersecurity companies support CrowdStrike’s conclusion that the Russian government was behind the recent hack of the DNC computer network.

Michael Buratowski (Credit: FidelisCybersecurity)

Michael Buratowski (Credit: FidelisCybersecurity)

The companies are Fidelis Cybersecurity and Mandiant. They base their analysis on five malware samples used in the hacking attack. Fidelis executive Michael Buratowski says, “Based on our comparative analysis, we agree with CrowdStrike and believe that the Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear…groups were involved in successful intrusions at the DNC [Democratic National Committee] . […] The malware samples matched the description, form and function that was described in the CrowdStrike blog post. In addition, they were similar and at times identical to malware that other [research firms] have associated to these actor sets.”

However, the Washington Post reports, “It is also possible, researchers said, that someone else besides the Russians were inside the DNC’s network and had access to the same documents.” (The Washington Post, 6/20/2016) 

A law firm reviewing the DNC attack, Baker & McKenzie, has begun working with three cybersecurity companies to review CrowdStrike’s findings. Fidelis Cybersecurity is one of them, along with FireEye and Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016) (Fidelis Cybersecurity, 6/20/2016)

June 21, 2016: The FBI recovers 302 previously lost Clinton emails from a Gmail account; two of them were deemed classified when they were sent.

In February 2014, an unnamed Platte River Networks (PRN) employee created a Gmail email account and briefly transferred all of Clinton’s emails into it from a back-up of Clinton’s server made in the spring of 2013. He transferred the Clinton emails to a new version of this server, but most of the emails on this server will later be destroyed. He also will tell the FBI that he deleted all of the emails from his Gmail account after completing the transfer.

However, the FBI will later report that on June 21, 2016, FBI investigators discovered 940 Clinton emails that were still on the Gmail account somehow. It has not been explained if the PRN employee simply failed to delete them all or if deleted emails were recovered.

All of the 940 emails date from October 25, 2010 to December 31, 2010. 56 of them were later deemed to be classified at the “confidential” level. 302 of them were not in the over 30,000 emails that Clinton gave to the State Department in December 2014. It has not been specified how many of these were deemed work-related. But of the 302 emails, the FBI gave 18 of them to other departments to for classification review. The State Department decided one email was classified “secret” when it was sent, but then later was downgraded to “confidential.” Another email was “confidential” when it was sent and later downgraded to be unclassified. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

June 21, 2016: The Clinton Foundation’s computer network was recently successfully hacked by alleged Russian hackers.

Bloomberg News reports this is according to three unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” Clinton Foundation officials say they haven’t been notified of the attack and refuse to say more. The breach was discovered as recently as one week earlier.

The attack appears to be part of a larger sweep of attacks that has targeted at least 4,000 email accounts of people connected to US politics since about October 2015. Many of the targets appear to be linked to Clinton.

Bloomberg News comments, “The thefts set the stage for what could be a Washington remake of the public shaming that shook Sony in 2014, when thousands of inflammatory internal emails filled with gossip about world leaders and Hollywood stars were made public.”

Someone going by the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” has been releasing documents from a hack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] but it is unknown if this person is linked to the foundation attack. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

June 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases 261 more files from the DNC hack.

This is the third release by Guccifer 2.0 of files from the DNC [Democratic National Committee] in a week. Guccifer 2.0 claims on his website, “It’s a big folder of docs devoted to Hillary Clinton that I found on the DNC server.” The files are compilations of news reports and other publicly available documents on existing or likely Democratic candidates from around April 2015, and the vast majority of the files contain information from that time or earlier. Nearly all the files are about Clinton, noting stories that could hurt her and often countering them with pro-Clinton talking points.

The DNC has neither confirmed nor denied that Guccifer 2.0 files come from the DNC breach, but Mother Jones notes that the “new trove of documents [were] apparently pilfered from the [DNC].” (Mother Jones, 6/21/2016)

June 21, 2016: A judge puts a Clinton email lawsuit on hold while waiting on other cases.

Harold Koh (Credit: Jay Premack)

Harold Koh (Credit: Jay Premack)

In a civil lawsuit, Judicial Watch is trying to find out why two State Department officials didn’t search Clinton’s private email address in response to a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request filed in December 2012. Judicial Watch claims the two officials—Legal Advisor Harold Koh and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy—knew of the FOIA request and knew of Clinton’s email address, since both of them emailed Clinton sometimes. (Koh joined the department in mid-2013, a few months after Clinton left, but the FOIA request was still in process.)

Judicial Watch wants to be granted discovery, which means they would be able to depose the officials to question them under oath. However, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton puts the decision on hold because there are two other similar suits going on, including one in which Kennedy is due to be deposed by Judicial Watch at the end of June 2016.

Furthermore, Walton also notes a federal appeals court is currently considering a lawsuit unrelated to Clinton that tests the government’s obligation to search a private email account maintained by a department head in response to a FOIA request. (Politico, 6/21/2016) (Politico, 6/17/2016)

June 21, 2016: Democrats hope that blaming recent hacking attacks on the Russian government will limit the political fallout.

Glen Caplin (Credit: Global Strategy Group)

Glen Caplin (Credit: Global Strategy Group)

Bloomberg News reports, “If the Democrats can show the hidden hand of Russian intelligence agencies, they believe that voter outrage will probably outweigh any embarrassing revelations, a person familiar with the party’s thinking said.”

In the same article, Clinton spokesperson Glen Caplin refuses to comment on details about recent hacking attacks or confirm if any of Clinton’s campaign staff got successfully hacked. However, Caplin does say, “What appears evident is that the Russian groups responsible for the DNC hack are intent on attempting to influence the outcome of this election.”

The DNC [Democratic National Committee] similarly won’t comment on details or confirm reports of successful attacks. However, the DNC issues a written statement that it believes recent leaks by Guccifer 2.0 are “part of a disinformation campaign by the Russians.”

The Russian government has denied any involvement. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

June 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 is interviewed and claims to be Romanian, not Russian.

Starting June 15, 2015, someone using the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” created a website and started posting files that appear to come from a recent hack of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] computer network. He claims to be a “lone hacker” while some have suggested that he is a front for the Russian government.

For the first time, he is interviewed, by Vice News, through Twitter, so his appearance and location remain unknown. He says he is from Romania, just like the original hacker nicknamed Guccifer, who is now in a US prison. However, Vice News asks him to answer a question in Romanian and he declines to do so. He does make a few comments in Romanian, but they have numerous errors. He says he deliberately left Russian metadata in the leaked documents as his personal “watermark.” Yet he claims, “I don’t like Russians and their foreign policy. I hate being attributed to Russia.”

He says he first breached the DNC network in the summer of 2015. “Then I installed my Trojans on several PCs. I had to go from one PC to another every week so CrowdStrike couldn’t catch me for a long time. I know that they have cool intrusion detection system. But my heuristic algorithms are better.” He claims he finally got kicked out of the network on June 12, 2016, when the DNC “rebooted their system.”

He says he has had other successful hacking attacks, but he refuses to name the targets because “my safety depends on it.” He says he doesn’t care about Donald Trump but targeted the DNC to emulate the work of the original Guccifer. (Vice News, 6/21/2016)

June 21, 2016: The FBI, NSA, and US Secret Service are all investigating recent hacks on US political targets.

None of those government agencies have made any public statements about the hacking attacks or who might be behind them, and the White House has been silent as well. But Bloomberg News reports that because so many of the attacks have targeted people or institutions close to Clinton, the FBI has been careful to keep its hacking investigation separate from its ongoing Clinton email investigation. Totally different personnel are being used in the two investigations. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

June 22, 2016: Sanders says “it doesn’t appear” he’s going to be the nominee, but still refuses to concede.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview, “It doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee, so I’m not going to be determining the scope of the convention.” However, he has yet to formally end his presidential campaign or endorse Clinton. (The Hill, 6/22/2016)

June 22, 2016: Trump says foreign governments can blackmail Clinton over her email secrets.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says of Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state, “While we may not know what is in those deleted emails, our enemies probably do. So they probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be president of the United States. This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency. […] We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies.” This is part of a speech entirely focusing on criticism of Clinton. (The Hill, 6/22/2016)

He also says, “Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States,” and claims she used the State Department as “her own personal hedge fund.” (NBC News, 6/22/2016)

June 22, 2016: Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano repeatedly pleads the Fifth in a sworn deposition.

Pagliano has been forcibly deposed by Judicial Watch in a civil suit presided by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. He originally was supposed to be deposed on June 6, 2016, but it was delayed after he revealed he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination, as well as arguments over the implications of his limited immunity given as part of a deal he made to cooperate with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

As expected, he pleads the Fifth, doing so more than 125 times, according to Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. Fitton also says, “On many of the key issues, he took the Fifth. He took the Fifth even on questions about his resume.”

In addition, Pagliano’s lawyers reportedly object to many questions, saying they go beyond the scope of discovery permitted by Sullivan. Fitton says he hopes Sullivan will see Pagliano’s failure to answer any substantive questions as further evidence that Clinton’s private email server set up by Pagliano may have been designed to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. (Politico, 6/22/2016)

June 23, 2016: The State Department is accused of dragging out the release of emails related to the Clinton Foundation.

Oscar Flores (Credit: public domain)

Oscar Flores (Credit: public domain)

In a court filing, the conservative watchdog group Citizens United asks a judge to order the State Department to speed up the release of emails between the department and four Clinton Foundation officials, namely: Chelsea Clinton (the daughter of Bill and Hillary), Amitabh Desai (the foundation’s director of foreign policy), and Justin Cooper and Oscar Flores, two Bill Clinton aides who also have worked for the foundation.

A judge has ordered the department to release emails in monthly batches, due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Citizens United. But the department has only released 17 emails in its first two monthly batches, despite saying it has found nearly 4,000 emails that match the request.

Citizens United wants the emails released before the November 2016 general election, but they say that at the current pace, it would take 38 years for the department to release them all. (The Free Beacon, 6/23/2016)

June 24, 2016: Clinton’s official calendar omits dozens of meetings with donors and other outside interests.

A sample of a meeting with donors and loyalists that were omitted from Clinton’s official calendar. (Credit: The Associated Press)

In August 2013, the Associated Press (AP) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Clinton’s calendar and schedules from the State Department. After years of delays and denials, AP recently got about one-third of Clinton’s planning schedules from when she was secretary of state, and will be getting more.

A comparison of the planning schedules with Clinton’s 1,500-page official calendar shows “at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded,” or for which the names of those she met were omitted. At least 114 outsiders attended these meetings. Only seven meetings were replaced on the calendar by other events, while more than sixty meetings were either omitted entirely or described briefly as “private meetings” without mention of who attended. The missing meetings involve “private dinners and meetings with political donors, policy sessions with groups of corporate leaders, and ‘drop-bys’ with old Clinton campaign hands and advisers.”

For instance, meetings with controversial Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal are not mentioned, nor are meetings with billionaire Haim Saban, a major donor to Clinton’s political campaigns who also has given at least $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. A Clinton spokesperson says this merely shows that some records are more detailed than others. But AP points out that on the same days the names of donors Clinton meets with are omitted, the names of all the participants in other meetings are given.

Five former State Department logistics officials say that some previous secretaries of state omitted some details from their official calendars, but only for special occasions, such as medical appointments, and not meetings with donors or political interests. It is not known who edited Clinton’s official calendar. It also does not appear any federal laws were broken, although there are department rules against altering or deleting information.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), comments: “It’s clear that any outside influence needs to be clearly identified in some way to at least guarantee transparency. That didn’t happen. These discrepancies are striking because of her possible interest at the time in running for the presidency.” (The Associated Press, 6/24/2016)

June 27, 2016: Former President Bill Clinton has an “accidental” meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, causing a political storm.

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

On the night of June 27, 2016, Clinton and Lynch are in separate airplanes at the international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. According to an account by Lynch two days later, Clinton walks uninvited from his plane to her plane and talks with her for about half an hour. On June 30, 2016, CBS News will report, “An aide to Bill Clinton says that he spotted her on the tarmac, but CBS News has been told that she was in an unmarked plane.” (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

Lynch will say: “He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.” However, this encounter causes what the New York Times calls a “political furor” and “storm,” because Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary is being investigated by the FBI.

Furthermore, the FBI is expected to make a recommendation to indict her or not “in the coming weeks,” according to the Times. If the FBI does recommend indictment, then the decision to actually indict or not will rest with Lynch. Thus, many Republican politicians and even some Democrats criticize Bill Clinton and Lynch simply for meeting at all during such a politically charged time.

  • Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls it “one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year.” He says it was a “sneak” meeting, exposing that Clinton’s possible indictment is already a rigged process.
  • Republican Senator John Cornyn says that as a lawyer and attorney general, Lynch “must avoid even the appearance” of a conflict of interest, and renews his call for a special prosecutor to take charge of the Clinton investigation instead of Lynch.
  • David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, says he takes Clinton and Lynch at their word that their conversation didn’t touch on the FBI investigation, but that it was “foolish to create such optics.”
  • Democratic Senator Chris Coons says he is convinced Lynch is “an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal… I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

  • White House spokesperson Josh Earnest refuses to say whether the meeting was appropriate or not.
  • The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch says the meeting creates the impression that “the fix is in” and calls on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the meeting. (The New York Times, 6/30/2016) (The Hill, 6/30/2016) (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers comments: “It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president. […] He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane.” He adds that the meeting “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said.” (NPR, 6/30/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: The House Benghazi Committee releases their final report, which lacks any new politically damaging revelations.

The report is over 800 pages. and comes after 15 months of investigation, at a cost of over $7 million. However, the New York Times comments that the report “offers a handful of new details but nothing that will alter the conventional narrative about the events of September 11, 2012,” the date of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The report does point out numerous failures regarding the US government’s response to the attack, but those were mostly outside the control of Clinton’s State Department, such as a slow response time from the US military.

The Times also comments that “after nearly four years and eight congressional investigations, Mrs. Clinton emerged largely unscathed. […] In the end, the biggest revelation unearthed by the [committee] came 15 months ago: the disclosure that Hillary Clinton had used a private email address and server during her four years as secretary of state.”

Clinton comments, “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s pretty clear that it’s time to move on.” (The New York Times, 6/28/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin is deposed in a civil suit; she says Clinton didn’t want her personal emails accessible by anybody.

Photo of an ABC News report on Huma Abedin's deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News).

An ABC News report on Huma Abedin’s deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, and continues to play a major role as the vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She is deposed under oath for nearly six hours as part of a civil suit brought by Judicial Watch regarding the State Department’s slow response to certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

Amongst other things, Abedin says:

  • She isn’t aware whether Clinton personally deleted any emails while still in office.
  • She cannot recall whether she or Clinton discussed with any State Department officials Clinton’s using only her own server for government business.
  • She never searched or was asked to search her government or her private email accounts in response to requests or lawsuits under FOIA. But a review of all requests to the State Department during that time found several asking specifically for her emails on a number of subjects.
  • Clinton didn’t want the private emails that she mixed in with work-related emails to be accessible to “anybody.” (The Associated Press, 6/29/2016)

Abedin responds to some questions but is forgetful about others. The lack of definitive answers from her and the other former aides deposed in the same lawsuit could open the door to Clinton herself being deposed, if the judge allows it through the unusual discovery process he has approved so far.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “I think it’s striking that even Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had concerns about how the system affected Mrs. Clinton’s ability to do her job. We’re considering what next steps to take and what additional discovery we need.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Huma Abedin admits she worked on “Clinton family matters” while she was working at the State Department.

During the deposition of Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin by Judicial Watch, she is asked if she used her private email account hosted on Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server for any State Department work.

160627HumaAbedinDavidMcGlynn

Huma Abedin (Credit: David McGlynn)

Abedin responds, “My practice was to use my state.gov email. I did the vast majority of my work on state.gov, at my computer and on my BlackBerry when we traveled. And I used Clinton email for just about everything else. I used that for the Clinton family matters and, frankly, I used it for my own personal e-mail, as well.”

She is pressed, “But you also used it at times for state-related matters?”

She replies, “Yes. There were occasions when I did do that, correct.”

She is then asked, “And were there occasions when you used that with Secretary Clinton, where both of you used only the clintonemail.com accounts?”

Abedin replies, “There were occasions when that occurred, yes.” (Judicial Watch, 6/29/2016)

Unfortunately, Abedin is not asked what she means by working on “Clinton family matters,” and if that included Clinton Foundation matters.

June 29, 2016: At least 160 of Clinton’s work emails have turned up since Clinton said she turned them all over.

The Washington Post reports that “disclosures over the past several weeks have revealed dozens of emails related to Clinton’s official duties that crossed her private server and were not included in the 55,000 pages of correspondence she turned over to the State Department when the agency sought her emails in 2014.”

At least 127 of the new emails have come to light through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests initiated by Judicial Watch, especially the first two batch releases of Huma Abedin’s emails. Since Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, many of the emails were to or from Clinton about obvious work matters, yet weren’t included in the over 30,000 emails turned over by Clinton. Additionally, more of Clinton’s emails came to light through the May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, as well as previous leaks to the media, for a total of at least 160 emails.

The Post comments, “The newly disclosed gaps in Clinton’s correspondence raise questions about the process used by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her lawyers to determine which emails she turned over to the department.”

Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon says that both Clinton and Abedin provided “all potentially work-related emails in their possession” to the State Department. “We understand Secretary Clinton had some emails with Huma that Huma did not have, and Huma had some emails with Secretary Clinton that Secretary Clinton did not have.” However, the Post notes that Fallon “has not provided a full explanation for all of the gaps” with her emails. The State Department also has not fully addressed the gaps.

The campaign for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump releases a statement saying, “We now know that Clinton’s repeated assertion that she turned over everything work-related from her time at the State Department is not true.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says, “The most charitable interpretation is that the process she and her attorneys used to cull government emails from the emails she took with her didn’t work. The less charitable interpretation is that these emails were not helpful to Mrs. Clinton, so they were not turned over.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

June 29, 2016: The State Department wants to delay the release of emails between Clinton’s former aides and the Clinton Foundation until well after the 2016 presidential election.

Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs,Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Former Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Conservative group Citizens United has a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking emails that former State Department officials Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs exchanged with employees of the Clinton Foundation or Teneo Consulting, a company closely tied to the Clintons. The court has ordered the emails to be released by July 21, 2016.

However, Justice Department lawyers acting on behalf of the State Department ask US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras for an extension until October 2018 – more than two years. The State Department says they thought in March 2016 that there were only 6,000 pages of emails to process. But an error was discovered and they now believe there are more than 14,000 pages. The department also complains they are falling behind responding to FOIA requests and lawsuits in general.

Citizens United president David Bossie says, “This is totally unacceptable; the State Department is using taxpayer dollars to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton. The American people have a right to see these emails before the [November 2016 presidential] election. […] The conflicts of interest that were made possible by the activities of Hillary Clinton’s State Department in tandem with the Clinton Foundation are of significant importance to the public and the law enforcement community.” (Politico, 6/29/2016)

 

June 29, 2016: US intelligence is said to be looking closely to see if Russia could be covertly trying to release all of Clinton’s emails to the public.

Russian president Vladimir Putin (Credit: Agence France Presse)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Credit: Agence France Presse)

The Washington Times claims that an unnamed US intelligence official says US intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian online blogs and other Internet locations for any signs that Russian hackers have obtained Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state and are preparing to publicly release them. At least two postings suggest this could be happening, but the evidence cannot be confirmed as authoritative.

Additionally, an unnamed State Department official says Russia, China, and Israel are the three foreign governments most likely to have obtained all of Clinton’s emails, including her deleted ones, through covert hacking operations.

It is known that many organizations and people connected to Clinton have been hacked in recent months, and the Russian government is suspected, but their involvement has not been confirmed. If the Russians are involved, one possible motive would be to influence the FBI’s Clinton investigation and thus the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, calling him someone he could “get along very well with,” while Clinton espouses policies that frequently conflict with Russian aims. (The Washington Times, 6/29/2016)

June 30, 2016: One company that possessed Clinton’s emails is accused of having shockingly poor security.

Datto Headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. (Credit: Stephen A. Schwartz / Daily Mail)

Datto Headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. (Credit: Stephen A. Schwartz / Daily Mail)

From around June 2013 until August 2015, Clinton’s private server containing her emails from her time as secretary of state was managed by Platte River Networks. But another company, Datto Inc., was making monthly back-up copies of all the server’s data in the Internet cloud.  Datto has 600 employees and is valued at $1 billion, but two people tell the Daily Mail that the company is extremely incompetent.

Marc Tamarin, president of Virtual IT Consulting, was a Datto business partner from 2009 until early 2016. He says he frequently worked with Datto’s technical support, but “Those guys were really morons. They weren’t qualified to handle our back-up and that was the biggest concern for us. … If they’re inept at the basic principles of technology, how are they going to handle something advanced like security? Most companies like mine trust their vendor that they are doing due diligence. I’ve never heard anything this bad before in my life, the dataincompetence was shocking.”

An unnamed former employee, who spent three years at the company, has even more complaints. “If you’re talking about high-level data security, at the political, presidential level, the security level of data [at Datto] … was nowhere near something that could have been protected from a good hacker that knows how to spread out their points at which to infiltrate. It’s not something that Datto was focused on. It was more about getting the data off-site quickly and cost-effectively than securing the data and keeping it from being hacked. There’s no doubt in my mind that someone could easily hack them – even today.”

He calls Datto’s security “a joke.” He claims a potential hacker could walk in off the street and sit down at an unused computer and access all the company’s data. There were no security guards, the receptionists didn’t ask questions of strangers, there was no key card access or other security features, passwords were not regularly changed, and so on. People who said they had lost their security pass would be let in without questions. Unused computers were frequently left on and logged in to the network.

He says, “For years, any Datto employee, even low-level ones, could go in any customer’s device, see their backups, restore files, and delete files.” Oftentimes, Datto customers would find themselves logged into the data of another customer without even wanting to. Datto’s internal servers were hacked in 2010. However, complaints were swept under the rug and security was not improved. (The Daily Mail, 6/30/2016)

July 2016—August 18, 2016: Hackers target the election databases in two US states, but the motives and identities of the hackers are unclear.

In July 2016, the FBI uncovers evidence that two state election databases may have been recently hacked, in Arizona and Illinois. Officials shut down the voter registration systems in both states in late July 2016, with the Illinois system staying shut down for ten days.

160701JehJohnsonpublic

Jeh Johnson (Credit: public domain)

On August 15, 2016,  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson heads a conference call with state election officials and offers his department’s help to make state voting systems more secure. In the call, he emphasizes that he is not aware of “specific or credible cybersecurity threats” to the November 2016 presidential election.

Three days later, the FBI Cyber Division issues a warning, titled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems.” It reveals that the FBI is investigating hacking attempts on the Arizona and Illinois state election websites. The warning suggests the hackers could be foreigners and asks other states to look for signs that they have been targeted too. Out of the eight known IP addresses used in the attacks, one IP address was used in both attacks, strongly suggesting the attacks were linked.

An unnamed “person who works with state election officials calls the FBI’s warning “completely unprecedented. … There’s never been an alert like that before that we know of.” In the Arizona case, malicious software was introduced into its voter registration system, but apparently there was no successful stealing of data. However, in the Illinois case, the hackers downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 state voters.

160701TomKellermannBBCNews

Tom Kellermann (Credit: BBC News)

It is not known who was behind the attacks. One theory is that the Russian government is responsible. A former lead agent in the FBI’s Cyber Division said the way the hack was done and the level of the FBI’s alert “more than likely means nation-state attackers.” Tom Kellermann, head of the cybersecurity company Strategic Cyber Ventures, believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is ultimately behind the attacks, and thinks it is connected to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other recently targeted US political targets. Kellermann says of Putin, “I think he’s just unleashed the hounds.”

But another leading theory is that common criminals are trying to steal personal data on state voters for financial gain. Milan Patel, former chief technology officer of the FBI’s Cyber Division, says, “It’s got the hallmark signs of any criminal actors, whether it be Russia or Eastern Europe.” But he adds, “the question of getting into these databases and what it means is certainly not outside the purview of state-sponsored activity.” Some cybersecurity experts note that hackers often target government databases for personal information they can sell.

160701RickBarger

Rich Barger (Credit: Threat Connect)

So far, the motive and identity of the hackers remains uncertain. Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer for ThreatConnect, says that one of the IP addresses listed in the FBI alert previously surfaced in Russian criminal underground hacker forums. However, sometimes these groups work alone, and other times they work for or cooperate with the Russian government. Barger also claims the method of attack on one of the state election systems appears to resemble methods used in other suspected Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks. But cybersecurity consultant Matt Tait says that “no robust evidence as of yet” connects the hacks to the Russian government or any other government.

US officials are considering the possibility that some entity may be attempting to hack into voting systems to influence the tabulation of results in the November 2016 election. A particular worry is that all of six states and parts of four others use only electronic voting with no paper verification. Hackers could conceivably use intrusions into voter registration databases to delete names from voter registration lists. However, this is still considered only a remote possibility. But the FBI is warning states to improve their cybersecurity to reduce the chances this could happen.

News of these attacks and FBI alerts will be made public by Yahoo News on August 29, 2016. (Yahoo News, 8/29/2016) (Politico, 8/29/2016)

July 1, 2016: The FBI reveals that all its agents in the Clinton email investigation have signed non-disclosure agreements and are subject to lie-detector tests.

FBI official Stephen Kelly sends a letter to Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in reponse to his questions. The letter reveals that FBI agents taking part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation were sworn to secrecy. The agents signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) called a “Case Briefing Acknowledgement” which says the disclosure of any information about the investigation is “strictly prohibited” without prior approval.

The NDA reads in part: “I (FBI agent) also understand that, due to the nature and sensitivity of this investigation, compliance with these restrictions may be subject to verification by polygraph examination.”

The FBI claims that “no one refused to sign” the NDA or “raised any questions or concerns” about it.

A sample of the non-disclosure (NDA) Agreement the FBI agents were required to sign. (Credit: public domain)

An unnamed recently retired FBI agent says that this kind of NDA is reserved for “the most sensitive of sensitive cases,” and can have a “chilling effect” on agents, who understand “it comes from the very top and that there has to be a tight lid on the case.” This person adds that such NDAs can also contribute to “group think” because investigators cannot bounce ideas off other agents, only those within a small circle. (Fox News, 7/14/2016)

An upper-ranking retired FBI official says, “This is very, very unusual. I’ve never signed one, never circulated one to others.” And a current FBI agent says, “I have never heard of such a form. Sounds strange.” (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)

Senator Chuck Grassley (Credit: The Associated Press)

Senator Chuck Grassley (Credit: The Associated Press)

Grassley first wrote to the FBI with questions about NDAs on February 4, 2016,  after a media report that FBI agents were asked to sign additional non-disclosure agreements in some cases.

Grassley comments that he finds it “troubling that the FBI tried to gag its agents with a non-disclosure agreement on this matter, in violation of whistleblower protection statutes.” Agents are only allowed to speak without permisssion in a limited number of circumstances, such as communications with Congress regarding waste, fraud, and abuse. (Fox News, 7/14/2016)

Information about this NDA will be first reported by The New York Post on July 12, 2016, shortly after the FBI announced Clinton would not be indicted. Fox New will wait for a follow-up letter to Grassley which won’t come until just after that announcement. (Fox News, 7/14/2016) (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)

July 1, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch will accept whatever recommendations the FBI and career prosecutors give in the Clinton investigation.

Jonathan Capehart interviews U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Aspen Ideas Festival on July 1, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Jonathan Capehart interviews Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Aspen, Colorado, on July 1, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says of the FBI’s Clinton investigation, “The recommendations will be reviewed by career supervisors in the Department of Justice and in the FBI, and by the FBI director, and then as is the common process, they present it to me and I fully expect to accept their recommendations.”

She doesn’t completely recuse herself from the process, saying that if she did that she wouldn’t even be able to see the FBI’s report. She says, “While I don’t have a role in those findings, in coming up with those findings or making those recommendations as to how to go forward, I will be briefed on it and I will be accepting their recommendations.” (Politico, 7/1/2016)

The New York Times comments, “Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.” The Justice Department supposedly had been moving towards the arrangement since at least April 2016, but a private meeting on June 27, 2016 between Lynch and Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, “set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.” (The New York Times, 7/1/2016)

Lynch claims that she had been planning to essentially recuse herself for months, although there is no evidence of this. But it seems clear her controversial meeting with Clinton played a role. She says of the meeting, “I certainly wouldn’t do it again. Because I think it has cast a shadow.” (Politico, 7/1/2016)

The Times says that the US attorney general often follows the recommendations of career prosecutors, so she “is keeping the regular process largely intact.” However, when the FBI, led by Comey, wanted to bring felony charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus in 2013, Lynch’s predecessor Eric Holder arranged a plea deal, reducing the charge to a misdemeanor and no jail time. The created a “deep and public rift” between the FBI and the Justice Department. (The New York Times, 7/1/2016)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says President Obama didn’t play a role in Lynch’s decision, nor did he offer input on her decision to make that announcement. (Politico, 7/1/2016)

July 1, 2016: Attorney General Lynch says she regrets meeting with Bill Clinton.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives in Arizona on June 29, 2016 for a planned visit to promote community policing.. (Credit: ABC News)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives in Arizona for a planned visit to promote community policing. (Credit: ABC News)

At the same time that Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces she will mostly recuse herself from deciding if Clinton should be indicted or not, she also says that she regrets having a private meeting with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. The meeting took place four days earlier, on June 27, 2016.

She says, “I certainly wouldn’t do it again. Because I think it has cast a shadow. The most important thing for me as attorney general is the integrity of this Department of Justice. And the fact that the meeting I had is now casting a shadow over how people will view that work is something that I take seriously and deeply and painfully.”

Politico points out, “Republicans have long complained that the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server constitutes a conflict of interest by default. They have argued that Lynch, a Democratic political appointee, might seek to protect the Democratic presidential nominee.” Additionally, Bill Clinton appointed Lynch to be US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999. (Politico, 7/1/2016)

July 2, 2016: Clinton’s FBI interview is attended by Cheryl Mills and others who have an obvious conflict of interest.

Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall sit behind Clinton as she appears before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Getty Images)

Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall sit behind Clinton as she testifies to the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Getty Images)

When an FBI summary of Clinton’s FBI interview on this day will be released in September 2016, it will reveal that five of Clinton’s lawyers are present during her questioning: Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, Heather Samuelson, Katherine Turner, and one whose name is redacted. Three of these lawyers – Mills, Kendall, and Samuelson – also have a key role to play in the Clinton email controversy the FBI investigated, because they were the ones who sorted over 60,000 of Clinton’s emails, which led to the controversial deletion of over 31,000 of them. Both Mills and Samuelson at least were interviewed by the FBI earlier in the investigation.

Furthermore, Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff and close aide through Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, only becoming one of Clinton’s lawyers in 2013 after Clinton became a private citizen again.

Andrew McCarthy (Credit: Gatestone Institute)

Andrew McCarthy (Credit: Gatestone Institute)

Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York later turned journalist, will note this in a later National Review article with the title: “Hillary Clinton’s Mind-Boggling FBI Interview – What Was Cheryl Mills Doing There?”

McCarthy will comment: “Mills was an actor in the facts that were under criminal investigation by the FBI. … [I]t is simply unbelievable to find her turning up at Mrs. Clinton’s interview – participating in the capacity of a lawyer under circumstances where Clinton was being investigated over matters in which Mills participated as a non-lawyer government official.”

He will add, “[L]aw enforcement never [interview] witnesses together – the point is to learn the truth, not provide witnesses/suspects with an opportunity to keep their story straight, which undermines the search for truth.” (National Review, 9/2/2016)

July 2, 2016: The FBI finally interviews Clinton as part of its email investigation.

160702ClintonMeetsFBICliffOwenAP

The Secret Service stands on guard at the home of Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC, on July 2, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

After months of speculation and after interviews with Clinton’s top aides, the FBI finally directly interviews Hillary Clinton. The interview takes place on a Saturday morning over the Fourth of July weekend, and takes place at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. Although some news reports one day earlier correctly predicted the day it would take place, no photographers are able to take any pictures of her arriving or leaving.

The New York Times reports, “The interview had been weeks in the making as law enforcement officials and Mrs. Clinton’s team coordinated schedules. Democrats also hoped that holding the interview on a holiday weekend might ease the anticipated storm.”

The interview takes place just three weeks before Clinton is expected to be nominated for president at the Democratic convention. It lasts three and a half hours, a time some consider short after a year-long investigation. It is said to be voluntary, meaning she wasn’t subpoenaed.

Clinton is accompanied into the meeting by her personal lawyer David Kendall, her longtime aides and lawyers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, and Katherine Turner and Amy Saharia, who are lawyers from Kendall’s firm Williams & Connolly. Eight officials from the FBI and the Justice Department conduct the interview.

Little is publicly revealed about the content of the interview. However, one unnamed person who is “familiar with the substance of the session”  characterizes the meeting as “civil” and “businesslike.”

It is anticipated that the interview means the FBI’s interview is nearing a conclusion. However, the Times also reports, “Although the interview on Saturday was an important step toward closure on the email issue, technical analysis of the material remains to be done and could stretch on for an indeterminate period.” (The New York Times, 7/2/2016)

Several days later, it will be revealed that the interview was not recorded, due to FBI policy, and Clinton didn’t have to swear an oath to tell the truth. Also, FBI Director James Comey was not one of the five or six FBI officials to take part, although he had previously given indications that he would. (The Hill, 7/7/2016)

July 2, 2016: Republicans criticize Clinton after she is interviewed by the FBI.

Hours after the FBI interviews Clinton as part of their Clinton email investigation, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says, “It is impossible for the FBI not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. What she did was wrong!”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) issues a statement after the interview, saying that Clinton “has just taken the unprecedented step of becoming the first major party presidential candidate to be interviewed by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation surrounding her reckless conduct.” (The New York Times, 7/2/2016)

July 2, 2016: Clinton tells the FBI she never knew her emails got deleted.

Clinton motions as she leaves the press conference joke and asking reporter Ed Henry, who had asked the question, whether she had meant if she wiped “with a cloth”

Clinton motions as she leaves a press conference in Las Vegas, NV, on August 18, 2015, where she jokes with reporter Ed Henry about wiping her server with a cloth. (Credit: David Becker / Reuters)

In late March 2015, Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks (PRN), deleted all of Clinton’s emails from her private server and then used a computer program to permanently wipe them. Two of Clinton’s lawyers, Cheryl Mills and David Kendall, had communications with Combetta in that time period, including speaking in a conference call in which he also participated just after the deletions were done, on March 31, 2015.

However, Clinton is interviewed by the FBI on this date, and the FBI will later report that “Clinton stated she was… unaware of the March 2015 email deletions by PRN.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Clinton’s claim is particularly surprising considering that in August 2015, it was reported that Clinton’s campaign had acknowledged “that there was an attempt to wipe [Clinton’s private] server before it was turned over last week to the FBI.” (NBC News, 8/19/2015) 

July 2, 2016: Clinton’s comments about the security of her classified reading rooms contradict other evidence and testimony.

SCIF rooms are made of metal before the final plaster is put on the walls. (Credit: diaa.com)

At the beginning of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the State Department outfitted Clinton’s houses in Whitehaven, Washington, DC, and Chappaqua. New York, with a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) so she could read highly classified documents. According to the FBI’s notes of Clinton’s July 2, 2016 FBI interview, Clinton claims, “Both SCIFs had a combination lock that only Clinton knew the combination to. … It was Clinton’s practice to lock the SCIF every time it was vacated.”

However, according to the FBI interview of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, “the SCIF door at the Whitehaven residence was not always locked, and Abedin, Hanley, and [redacted] had access to the SCIF.” Additionally, “Investigation determined the Chappaqua SCIF was not always secured, and Abedin, [Clinton aide Monica] Hanley, and [redacted] had routine access to the SCIF.”

Furthermore, the FBI will later report, “According to Abedin, [Bill Clinton aide Justin] Cooper, and [redacted], there were personally-owned desktop computers in the SCIFs in Whitehaven and Chappaqua. Conversely, Clinton stated to the FBI she did not have a computer of any kind in the SCIFs in her residences.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

July 2, 2016: Clinton tells the FBI she can’t recall key details 40 times in her FBI interview.

When Clinton is interviewed by the FBI for three and a half hours, she often fails to give clear answers. According to CNN, “Clinton repeatedly told the FBI she couldn’t recall key details and events related to classified information procedures…” The FBI’s summary of the interview, released in September 2016, will indicate “Clinton told investigators she either does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ at least 39 times — often in response to questions about process, potential training, or the content of specific emails.” (CNN, 9/2/2016)

Mediaite will list 40 times when she says she couldn’t remember or recall something. (Mediaite, 9/2/2016)

A few examples from Mediate's list of 40. (Credit: Mediate)

A few examples from Mediaite’s list of 40 times Clinton couldn’t remember or recall something. (Credit: Mediaite)

The Washington Post will similarly note, “she repeatedly told agents she could not recall important details or specific emails she was questioned about.” Some of her forgetfulness is hard to believe, such as an observation by the Post that she claimed she “did not know much about how the government classified information. For instance, she said she did not pay attention to the difference between levels of classification, like ‘top secret’ and ‘secret,’ indicating she took ‘all classified information seriously.'” Additionally, when she was shown with the (C) marking, which is commonly used by the department to indicate classified information, she didn’t recognize it. (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)

The FBI summary will mention that “in December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot. Based on her doctor’s advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

July 3, 2016: A former FBI official says leaks claiming Clinton will not be indicted “are not being made by anybody that knows what they’re talking about.”

Photo of former FBI director Tom Fuentes appearing on CNN with Fredricka Whitfield on July 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

CNN photo of former FBI director Tom Fuentes in an interview with Fredricka Whitfield on July 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes comments about the FBI’s Clinton investigation: “What I’ve been hearing is, is that the leaks that are supposedly being attributed that say she’s not likely to be charged are not being made by anybody that knows what they’re talking about. I’ve talked to people who at least know that there’s nothing leaking out of the FBI about any decision that’s been made.”

He continues, “I just question the leaks that are coming out. From what I’ve heard, there are no leaks coming out. And agents that even know and that have friends that are working on this case don’t know what’s going on. This has been tightly held. And also, within the FBI, any threat of a leak of the investigation against employees of the FBI is a career ender. It’s serious and they can be prosecuted. And they know that. And so that’s why you don’t often have leaks come out during the FBI part of it, but when they start disseminating it, especially when the report goes across the street to the Department of Justice, then you’re going to start hearing about that.” (CNN, 7/3/2016)

July 3, 2016: A former FBI official says the relatively short time Clinton was interviewed by the FBI could mean “the case has already been made” that she should be indicted.

Former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes is asked if anything can be surmised from the relatively short amount of time (three and a half hours) the FBI questioned Clinton. He says, “Oftentimes, the subject interview at the end of a case… may not be that important. That’s one reason why it could be short. It could be they already have all the evidence they need. It doesn’t matter, really, what she says. They have physical and documentary evidence to substantiate the case. Or they were asking her questions that may lead to additional interviews. We don’t know that. But oftentimes, a short interview with the main subject at the end of a case usually means the case has already been made and the evidence already obtained and they don’t really need other than what the subject can offer reasons or mitigation for the information the FBI already has.”

When asked if Clinton’s recent comment that she’s been waiting since August 2015 to be interviewed by the FBI is true, Fuentes says, “No. I don’t believe that’s true.”

He says that while she might have been ready to talk to them, they weren’t ready to talk to her until after they’d compiled all the other evidence. “[Then] when they were ready to talk to her in recent times, she hasn’t been as quick to be interviewed, and I’ve heard discussions about the timing of that.” (CNN, 7/3/2016)