Democrat Bill Clinton is the president of the US for eight years and his wife Hillary Clinton is the first lady.
New regulations state that “such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
James Comey is deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee. According to Time Magazine in March 2016: “In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to ‘far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,’ Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted ‘a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.’”
However, Comey is not in charge of the case, and his superiors decide not to press charges against Bill or Hillary Clinton in the matter.
Home video footage from a private fundraiser shows Senator Clinton talking about how she has deliberately avoided using email so she wouldn’t leave a paper trail. “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I? I don’t even want… Why would I ever want to do email? Can you imagine?”
In 2005, new State Department regulations state that normal day-to-day activities should be conducted on an authorized computer system, known as an automated information system (AIS). Examples of an AIS include a server and a mobile device.
In 2007, new regulations specify that nondepartmental AISs containing department information must be registered with the department and maintain certain minimum security standards.
In 2016, an internal department investigation will determine that Clinton never registered her private server or mobile devices and thus never had them checked to see if they maintained the required security standards. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
The State Department decrees that “sensitive but unclassified” information should not be transmitted through personal email accounts. It also states, “It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [government server], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication, and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.” (US Department of State, 1/12/2016) (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
The department’s regulations also require that “Departing officials must ensure that all record material that they possess is incorporated in the Department’s official files and that all file searches for which they have been tasked have been completed, such as those required to respond to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], Congressional, or litigation-related document requests. Fines, imprisonment, or both may be imposed for the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of records as stated in the US Criminal Code (e.g., 18 U.S.C., section 2071).” (US Department of State, 8/17/2007)
A Congressional oversight committee investigates allegations that the White House fired US attorneys for political reasons. The committee asks Bush officials to turn over relevant emails, only to find that government work had been conducted on private email addresses. Millions of emails are deleted and permanently lost, preventing the committee from continuing their investigation. Bush officials use email accounts associated with a private gwb43.com server owned and controlled by the RNC [Republican National Committee], which is a private political entity not covered by government oversight laws. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2007) (Vox, 3/2/2015)
In 2015, shortly after Clinton’s use of a private email address will be revealed, Vox will comment, “That [Bush administration email] scandal unfolded well into the final year of Bush’s presidency, then overlapped with another email secrecy scandal, over official emails that got improperly logged and then deleted, which itself dragged well into Obama’s first year in office. There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same.”
Vox will also note, “Perhaps even more stunning is that the Obama White House, whose top officials were presumably exchanging frequent emails with Clinton, apparently did not insist she adopt an official email account.” (Vox, 3/2/2015)
While campaigning for president, Clinton says, “Our Constitution is being shredded. We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about secret military tribunals, the secret White House email accounts. […] It’s a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok.” (ABC News, 3/6/2015) (The Hill, 3/5/2015)
This is a reference to a scandal that became public earlier in the month, where it was found that White House adviser Karl Rove and other officials had used private email accounts and then deleted all their emails before investigators could get them. (Vox, 3/2/2015) (YouTube Video, 6/20/2007)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
Instead, an acting inspector with close ties to State Department leadership fills the role. An “inspector general” is an internal watchdog tasked with discovering mismanagement and corruption. The position goes vacant in January 2008. President Obama doesn’t nominate anyone to fill the position for more than four years, making it the longest time any department ever went without a permanent one.
Five months after Clinton leaves office, Obama nominates Steve Linick, who is confirmed as the new permanent inspector general three months later, on September 30, 2013.
In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will write, “The lack of a confirmed inspector general raises questions about oversight of the department under Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. The department has been criticized for its failure to gather and archive the email records of Mrs. Clinton and other officials and for responses to public-record requests that lawmakers and advocacy groups say were insufficient… It isn’t clear whether Mrs. Clinton had any role in the lack of a nomination.”
The acting inspector general during Clinton’s term, Harold Geisel, is banned from taking the job permanently due to conflict of interest rules. Matthew Harris, a professor who researches inspectors general, will later comment, “It’s a convenient way to prevent oversight.” Acting inspectors general “don’t feel empowered; they don’t have the backing of their people. They’re in a position where they could be removed at any moment.”
Representative Ed Royce (R), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will later suggest, “A permanent IG [inspector general] would have objected to [Clinton’s] efforts to circumvent congressional oversight by keeping her emails off the books.”
The White House has yet to explain why it waited so long to nominate a replacement. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2015)
An IP address associated with the clintonemail.com domain later used by Hillary Clinton is registered to “Eric Hoteham” on this date. The IP address for clintonemail.com, along with others registered in Hoteham’s name, is connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home address in Chappaqua, New York. ABC News will later call Hoteham a “mystery man,” since no one with that name is known to exist.
He may or may not be the same as the similarly named Eric Hothem who worked for Bill Clinton when he was president, was an aide for Hillary Clinton in the early 2000s, and has worked for Citicorp and then JP Morgan since. That person has refused to comment on the matter. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (ABC News, 3/6/2015)
According to the FBI, around 2007, Justin Cooper purchased an Apple OS X server. Cooper is a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton at the time. On February 1, 2008, the domain names clintonemail.com, wjcoffice.com, and presidentclinton.com were registered, but apparently the server that uses them won’t be operational until a few months later. The server is physically located in a house in Chappaqua, New York, where Bill and Hillary Clinton live.
The server consists of an Apple Power Macintosh G4 or G5 tower and an HP printer. According to Cooper, around June 2008, an Apple employee installs the server in the basement of the Chappaqua house. Cooper is the only person with administrative access to the server. However, the Clinton family and their house staff have physical access to it.
Hillary Clinton uses her att.blackberry.net email account as her primary email address until around mid-to-late January 2009 when she will switch to a newly created firstname.lastname@example.org account hosted on this server. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Obama will win the general election in November 2008 and make Clinton his secretary of state shortly thereafter. (ABC News, 6/7/2008)
At some unknown point after Clinton ends her presidential campaign on June 7, 2008, Bryan Pagliano is tasked as the lead specialist to take care of the new private email server in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, house. He will keep the job until mid-2013. Pagliano worked as the IT (information technology) director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
He is paid by Clinton’s Senate leadership PAC (political action committee) through April 2009, then starts working for the State Department a month later. (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)
Justin Cooper is an aide to former President Bill Clinton, and he is the administrator for the private server located in the Chappaqua, New York, house where Bill and his wife Hillary live. Cooper will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say that the decision is made to replace the server because the current server (being run on an Apple OS X computer) is antiquated and people using it are having email troubles.
At the recommendation of Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, Cooper contacts Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as an information technology specialist, to build a new server system and to assist Cooper with administrating it. Pagliano was getting rid of the computer equipment from Clinton’s presidential campaign, so it is decided to use some of this equipment for the new server at the Chappaqua house.
According to a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton “told the FBI that at some point she became aware there was a server in the basement of her Chappaqua residence. However, she was unaware of the transition from the Apple server managed by Cooper to another server built by Pagliano and therefore, was not involved in the transition decision.”
Between the fall of 2008 and January 2009, Pagliano gets computer equipment from Clinton’s former presidential campaign headquarters, and also works with Cooper to buy additional necessary equipment.
Clinton becomes secretary of state on January 20, 2009, and begins using a clintonemail.com email address around that time, which is hosted on the old Apple server. The new server won’t be operational until March 2009. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In 2004, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a bulletin noting that officials and employees “must know how to ensure that records are incorporated into files or electronic recordkeeping systems, especially records that were generated electronically on personal computers.”
In 2009, NARA amends its regulations explicitly to address official emails on personal accounts: Departments that allow employees to send and receive work-related emails using a system not operated by the department must ensure that all such emails are preserved in the appropriate department recordkeeping system. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
Clinton wants to hire Sid Blumenthal as an official national security adviser in the State Department. Blumenthal had worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House in the 1990s, then had been a journalist, then joined Clinton’s presidential campaign as a senior adviser in 2007. However, Obama bans him from any government job.
According to a 2015 Politico article, “Obama aides were convinced that Blumenthal spread false personal and policy rumors about Obama during the battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination.” When Clinton is asked in 2015 if the White House banned her from hiring Blumenthal, she won’t dispute it. (Politico, 10/22/2015) (Politico, 1/8/2016)
Blumenthal will soon get a full-time job at the Clinton Foundation with a $120,000 a year salary. For the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, he will frequently email her intelligence information that he will later claim came from Tyler Drumheller, a CIA agent until 2005. (Politico, 5/28/2015)
Sid Blumenthal is paid about $120,000 a year as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation. He gets the job in early 2009 at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, who employed him in the White House in the 1990s. He keeps the job until March 2015, the same month that the Clinton email scandal first becomes news.
Blumenthal is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and a journalist. He appears to have been a private citizen without a security clearance since the 1990s. Yet for the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and while he is being paid by the Clinton Foundation, he frequently emails her with intelligence information and advice. His foundation job doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any of the foundation’s charitable works.
According to Politico, “While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of [Bill] Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation.”
In 2011, Blumenthal has a business relationship with two companies, Osprey Global Solutions and Constellations Group, trying to get government contracts to assist US-supported rebels in Libya that year.
After March 2015, Blumenthal will be a paid consultant to American Bridge and Media Matters, two groups supporting Clinton’s presidential campaign that are run by David Brock, an ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal. Politico will later comment, “Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups, and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya underscores the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises.” (Politico, 5/28/2015)
In 2009, the first year Clinton is secretary of state, the State Department begins using the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART), which allows employees to electronically tag emails to preserve a copy for posterity. This allows employees to easily comply with record keeping regulations, instead of having to print out copies of each email.
Although most of the State Department starts using SMART in 2009; the Office of the Secretary elects not to use the SMART system to preserve emails, partly due to concerns that the system would “allow overly broad access to sensitive materials.” (This quote is from an FBI report, but the name of the official who said it is redacted.)
Representatives from the Executive Secretariat (which includes Clinton’s office) ask to be the last to receive the SMART rollout. Ultimately SMART is never used by the Executive Secretariat Office or Clinton for the rest of Clinton’s four-year tenure.
This leaves printing out each email as the only approved method by which the Clinton or her staff in the Office of the Secretary could preserve emails for record keeping. But when Clinton leaves office in February 2013, she won’t even do that.
Remarkably, when Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, the FBI summary will indicate: “Clinton was not aware how other State [Department] staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
SMART will have security and cost overrun problems for the rest of Clinton’s tenure, and beyond.
In a September 2016 Congressional hearing, Justin Cooper will reveal some information about how Clinton’s use of a private email account on her private server begins. He will state: “Secretary Clinton was transitioning from her presidential campaign and Senate role and had been using primarily a BlackBerry for email correspondence. There were limitations to her ability to use that BlackBerry as well as desire to change her email address because a number of people have received her email address over the course of those activities. So we created with a discussion, I believe, with [Clinton aide] Huma Abedin at the time [about] what domains might be of interest. We obtained a domain and we added it to the original server used by President Clinton’s office for [Hillary Clinton] to use with her BlackBerry at the time…”
Note that Cooper registers three domain names on January 13, 2009, so this discussion must have occurred before then.
Representative Mark Meadows (R) will ask Cooper in the hearing: “So, your testimony here today is that Huma Abedin said that she would prefer to have Ms. Clinton’s email on a private server versus a server that was actually managed by someone else? That’s your testimony?”
Cooper will reply, “My testimony is that that was communicated to me.”
He will also clarify that when it came to talking to Abedin, “I don’t recall conversations with her about the setting up of the server.” But he also will say, “At some point I had a conversation with her about the setting up of an email account for Secretary Clinton on the server.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
However, in Abedin’s April 2016 FBI interview, she will say nothing like this. In fact, she will deny even knowing the server existed until it was mentioned in the media, despite her having an email account hosted on the server for the entire duration of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and at least three email exchanges that show her discussing the server during that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Just prior to Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Justin Cooper registers three email domains for Hillary Clinton at her Chappaqua, New York, address. One domain, clintonemail.com, will be used for all of Clinton’s emails for at least the next five years. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)
Cooper is a long-time personal assistant to Bill Clinton. However, he has “no security clearance and no particular expertise in safeguarding computers, according to three people briefed on the server setup.” (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)
He had been elected on November 6, 2008. He will win reelection in 2012.
Shortly Before January 21, 2009: In an email exchange shortly before Clinton becomes secretary of state, records officials within the Bureau of Administration wonder if there is an electronic method that could be used to capture her emails because they are “not comfortable” advising the new administration to print and file email records. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
She resigns as senator from New York at the same time. She was confirmed by the Senate earlier the same day.
She will serve for all of President Obama’s first term, until February 2013. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
Her server was installed in her house in Chappaqua, New York, and it continues to reside there. Her IT [Information Technology] expert Bryan Pagliano has been in charge of running it since 2008 as well, and continues to do so.
Yet the Washington Post will later report, “Four computer-security specialists interviewed by the Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.”
One of the specialists will comment, “For data of this sensitivity… we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
The New York Times will later note, “There appears to have been no prohibition on the exclusive use of a private server; it does not appear to be an option anyone had thought about.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) But the State Department requires that computers be officially certified as secure, and no evidence has emerged that Clinton’s server was given such a certification.
Additionally, the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) states, “Only department-issued or approved systems are authorized to connect to department enterprise networks.” (US Department of State)
One reason Clinton might want to use a private server is that the State Department computer systems at the time are widely considered inadequate and frustrating. One result of using a private server is that only a small fraction of emails used on the department’s systems will be permanently archived. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)
According to a September 2015 letter from Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, “Secretary Clinton did not use a classified email account at the State Department. An account was set up on ClassNet on her calendar, but it was not used.”
ClassNet involves State Department workstations designed to allow employees to view classified information. (The Daily Caller, 2/23/2016)
In 2015, Clinton’s website will address how she read classified information: “The Secretary’s office was located in a secure area. Classified information was viewed in hard copy by Clinton while in the office. While on travel, the State Department had rigorous protocols for her and traveling staff to receive and transmit information of all types.” (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015)
A September 2016 FBI report will indicate that “some Clinton aides and senior-level State [Department] employees were aware Clinton used a personal email address for State business during her tenure [as secretary of state]. Clinton told the FBI it was common knowledge at State that she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails. However, some State employees interviewed by the FBI explained that emails from Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.”
The report also notes, “The majority of the State employees interviewed by the FBI who were in email contact with Clinton indicated they had no knowledge of the private server in her Chappaqua residence.”
Even Clinton’s closest aides like her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will claim they didn’t know, though there is evidence that suggests otherwise (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
This is according to a September 2016 FBI report. The report indicates that Clinton and her immediate staff were repeatedly “notified of foreign travel risks and were warned that digital threats began immediately upon landing in a foreign country, since connection of a mobile device to a local network provides opportunities for foreign adversaries to intercept voice and email transmissions.”
Additionally, the State Department has a Mobile Communications Team responsible for establishing secure mobile voice and data communications for Clinton and her team wherever they travel. But even so, Clinton and her staff frequently use their private and unsecure mobile devices and private email accounts while overseas.
The number of Clinton emails sent or received outside the US will be redacted in the FBI report. Although it will mention that “hundreds” were classified at the “confidential” level, additional details are redacted. Nearly all mentions of “top secret” emails are redacted in the report, so it’s impossible to know if any of those are sent while Clinton is overseas.
The report will mention that some emails between Clinton and President Obama are sent while Clinton is overseas. However, the exact number will be redacted. None of these overseas emails between them will be deemed to contain classified information. According to the report, “Clinton told the FBI that she received no particular guidance as to how she should use President Obama’s email address…”
The details of the FBI’s report on Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview will indicate that Clinton emailed Obama on July 1, 2012 from Russia. However, it is not clear if she sent the email from on the ground or on a plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.
However, in 2016, Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton who helps manage the Clinton private server, will claim otherwise. In an FBI interview, “Cooper stated that he was aware of Clinton using a second mobile phone number. Cooper indicated Clinton usually carried a flip phone along with her BlackBerry because it was more comfortable for communication and Clinton was able to use her BlackBerry while talking on the flip phone.”
However, in Clinton’s 2016 FBI interview, “she did not recall using a flip phone during her tenure [as secretary of state], only during her service in the Senate.” In their FBI interviews, Clinton’s aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills “advised they were unaware of Clinton ever using a cellular phone other than the BlackBerry.”
According to FBI investigators, Clinton has “two known phone numbers… which potentially were used to send emails using Clinton’s clintonemail.com email addresses.” One is associated with her BlackBerry usage. Toll records associated with the other phone number “indicate the number was consistently used for phone calls in 2009 and then used sporadically through the duration of Clinton’s tenure and the years following. Records also showed that no BlackBerry devices were associated with this phone number.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.
However, the FBI will later determine that Clinton actually used in succession 11 email-capable BlackBerrys while secretary of state. She uses two more BlackBerrys with the same phone number after her tenure is over. The FBI will not be able to obtain any of the BlackBerrys to examine them.
The FBI will later identify five iPad devices associated with Clinton which might have been used by Clinton to send emails. The FBI will later obtain three of the iPads. They will only examine two, because one was a gift that Clinton gave away as soon as she purchased it.
Clinton aide Monica Hanley often buys replacement BlackBerrys for Clinton from AT&T stores. Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps run Clinton’s private server, usually sets up the new devices and then syncs them to the server so she can access her email inbox. According to an FBI interview with Clinton aide Huma Abedin, “it was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The FBI will later determine that Clinton uses 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state and two more using the same phone number after she leaves office. In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton stated that when her BlackBerry device malfunctioned, her aides would assist her in obtaining a new BlackBerry, and, after moving to a new device, her old SIM cards were disposed of by her aides.”
Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps manage Clinton’s private server, will later tell the FBI that he “did recall two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”
However, according to Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Monica Hanley, “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
During this time, Clinton and her aides exchange emails discussing “North Korea, Mexico, Afghanistan, military advisers, CIA operations and a briefing for Obama.” Some of the emails will later be redacted, including one written to Clinton about Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
In late March, top aide Jake Sullivan emails Clinton a draft of a confidential report she is to make to President Obama. “Attached is a draft of your Mexico trip report to [Obama],” the email states. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
During these two months, Clinton travels to Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China. Her emails would have almost no defense against eavesdropping by foreign intelligence and hackers during all those trips.
Furthermore, some intelligence agencies are known to attempt eavesdropping around this time. For instance, at a world leader summit in April 2009, British intelligence sets up fake Internet in the hope that government ministers and their staff will use them so their communications can be intercepted. (ComputerWorld, 3/11/2015)
A September 2016 FBI report will determine that “Clinton’s clintonemail.com email traffic was potentially vulnerable to compromise when she first began using her personal account in January 2009. It was not until late March 2009… that access to the server was afforded an added layer of security.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
There are 62,320 emails sent to or from her email@example.com address, which is an average of 296 a week, or nearly 1,300 a month. Clinton will later claim that roughly half of these (31,830) were private in nature and she will delete them before investigators can look at them.
The Washington Post will later explain, “Most of her emails were routine, including those sent to friends. Some involved the coordination of efforts to bring aid to Haiti by the State Department and her husband’s New York-based Clinton Foundation—notes that mixed government and family business, the emails show. Others involved classified matters. State Department and Intelligence Community officials have determined that 2,093 email chains contained classified information. Most of the classified emails have been labeled as ‘confidential,’ the lowest level of classification. Clinton herself authored 104 emails that contained classified material, a Post analysis later found.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
Twenty-two of her emails will later be determined to be classified “top secret” or even higher than top secret in some cases, due to the mention of highly secretive Secret Access Programs (SAP). (The New York Times, 1/29/2016)
She is said to be addicted to checking her email on her BlackBerry, but security officials refuse to let her take her BlackBerry into her office. Early in her tenure, security officials offer to install a secure computer with Internet access in her office to allow her to check email, but she doesn’t want it and never gets one.
In 2015, an unnamed senior NSA official will recall the conflict after retiring: “It was the usual Clinton prima donna stuff, the whole ‘rules are for other people’ act that I remembered from the ′90s. […] What did she not want put on a government system, where security people might see it? […] I wonder now, and I sure wish I’d asked about it back in 2009.”
Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later comment, “Why Ms. Clinton would not simply check her personal email on an office computer, like every other government employee less senior than the president, seems a germane question, given what a major scandal email-gate turned out to be.” (The New York Observer, 3/18/2016)
That is an average of about one email every other day for Clinton’s four years as secretary of state. Blumenthal is a journalist, long-time Clinton confidant, and Clinton Foundation employee. But he is also a private citizen with no security clearance, so his emails are never vetted by US intelligence.
In 2015, The New York Times will report that Clinton “took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.” Furthermore, his “involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics, and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.”
Many of Blumenthal’s emails discuss Libya, which becomes a political hot spot due to a civil war in 2011. At the same time, he gets involved with business associates wanting to win contracts from what will become the new Libyan government. Clinton’s State Department would have to give permits for the contracts, but the business plans fall apart before Blumenthal and his partners can seek official approval.
Most of his intelligence appears to come from one of his partners, Tyler Drumheller, who was a CIA official until 2005. It’s not clear where Drumheller gets his information from. Various officials express skepticism about his emails, as they were sometimes based on false rumors. But Clinton continues to encourage Blumenthal with occasional email replies like “Useful insight” or “We should get this around ASAP.” The Times will note that “Blumenthal’s direct line to Mrs. Clinton circumvented the elaborate procedures established by the federal government to ensure that high-level officials are provided with vetted assessments of available intelligence.”
Former CIA official Paul Pillar will later comment that Blumenthal’s sourcing “is pretty sloppy, in a way that would never pass muster if it were the work of a reports officer at a US intelligence agency.” (The New York Times, 5/18/2015) (WikiLeaks, 1/16/2016)
According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, department employees often ask the department’s Information Resources Management (IRM) office for permission to use nondepartmental computer systems for work purposes, such as using outside video conferencing systems or file sharing software.
But these requests are typically denied. For instance, in 2012, a request is submitted to use an Internet-based teleconference service. But the IRM denies this request, citing regulations that normal day-to-day operations need to be conducted on authorized computer systems.
The IRM further notes that the department “expect[s] employees to use the tools provided by the department to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.”
However, Clinton is never warned not to use a personal email account and personal server for her day-to-day communications, despite some top department officials knowing that she does this. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
State Department officials regularly mark some information as “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU), and there are special rules to deal with this.
Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) rules state that anyone regularly transmitting SBU information outside the department’s OpenNet computer network needs to request a solution from the department’s security officials. Clinton never does this, even though she frequently sends and receives emails marked SBU.
Furthermore, rules require special safeguards for transmitting SBU information on a mobile device. Clinton never does that either. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, the department’s Diplomatic Security (DS) and Information Resources Management (IRM) security officials claim that Clinton never demonstrates to them that her private server or BlackBerry or iPad meets the minimum security requirements specified by the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
After Clinton’s email scandal becomes public in March 2015, The State Department will request all work-related emails from four of Clinton’s top aides: Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines. The emails will be turned over between June and August 2015.
A department analysis will determine that all four aides frequently used personal email accounts for work matters, although they had government email accounts and sometimes used those as well. The combined work-related personal emails from the four of them will total nearly 72,000 printed pages. One of the four sends and receives 9,585 work emails using a personal account while Clinton is secretary of state, though it isn’t clear which one. That person averages nine work emails from that account per work day.
In May 2016, the department’s inspector general will conclude that, just like Clinton, “these [four aides] failed to comply with department policies… because none of these emails were preserved in department recordkeeping systems prior to [being handed over] in 2015.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) concerns “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI), which is a type of “top secret” classification. In signing the agreement, Clinton acknowledges any “breach” could result in “termination of my access to SCI and removal from a position of special confidence and trust requiring such access as well as the termination of my employment or any other relationships with any department or agency that provides me with access to SCI.” (US Department of State, 11/5/2015)
This is one of two NDAs Clinton signs on this day.
It will later be revealed that out of the over 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in December 2014, three of them were deemed “top secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information.”
All State Department employees are required to receive regular security training through a briefing at least once a year. It is not clear how or why Clinton will miss her briefing in the next three years. At the end of the briefing she does attend, she signs a document acknowledging her understanding of what she has been told. This is according to State Department documents that will be released to the Daily Caller in 2016 due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner will later tell reporters, “It’s my understanding that the secretary of state, everybody in this building, would receive that type of training and awareness. We all have to undergo through that. It’s considered mandatory.”
Former senior intelligence officer Colonel James M. Waurishuk will comment, “Who decided she would only get that one-time briefing? That almost sounds as if it’s a culture issue within her organization. I can’t imagine what went through her mind. There’s no excuse.” (The Daily Caller, 3/24/2016)
The very first paragraph of the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” she signs states, “As used in this Agreement, classified Information is marked or unmarked classified Information.”
According to Executive Order 12958, which is in effect at the time, since she is the secretary of state, she is given the authority to classify or declassify any State Department information she wants. However, as part of her nondisclosure agreement (NDA), she has the legal responsibility to identify and safeguard any classified information originating from other government agencies, whether that information is marked classified or not. (The Washington Post, 2/4/2016) (US Department of State, 11/5/2015)
This is one of two NDAs Clinton signs on this day.
Clinton emails former Secretary of State Colin Powell two days after she is sworn in as secretary of state, and asks about his use of a BlackBerry while he was secretary of state from January 2001 to January 2005. A full copy of the email will be released on September 7, 2016.
Clinton writes: “I hope to catch up soon [with] you, but I have one pressing question which only you can answer! What were the restrictions on your use of your BlackBerry? Did you use it in your personal office? I’ve been told that the DSS [Diplomatic Security] personnel knew you had one and used it but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it! President Obama has struck a blow for Berry addicts like us. I just have to figure out how to bring along the State Dept. Any and all advice is welcome.”
Powell replies to Clinton, “I didn’t have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”
Powell also warns Clinton, “there is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it is government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may beome an official record and subject to the law.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
Powell further writes, “Reading about the President’s BB [BlackBerry] rules this morning, it sounds like it won’t be as useful as it used to be.” Powell is referring to a New York Times article published the day before, regarding Obama winning the fight to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. (New York Times, 01/22/09)
Powell further advises Clinton, “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Clinton emails back the same day, “[I] want to thank you for all the advice about Berries, security, and life on the seventh floor [of State Department headquarters]! I hope we’ll have a chance to visit in person sometime soon.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton [will indicate] to the FBI that she understood Powell’s comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton’s decision to use a private email account on a private server had already been made before this email exchange.
By this time, the National Security Agency (NSA) arranges for President Obama to use a secure, encrypted BlackBerry, allowing him to use it anywhere. Clinton and her top aides want Clinton to have one too.
On this day, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, asks in a group email, “[H]ow can we get her one?”
Lewis Lukens, Clinton’s logistics chief, responds the same day that he could help set up “a stand-alone PC [personal computer] in the Secretary’s office, connected to the Internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check her emails from her desk.”
Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy replies that that is “a great idea.”
But apparently, Clinton insists on using her BlackBerry at all times and never a desktop computer, so no such computer is ever set up. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
In a May 2016 court deposition, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills will be asked what she thought of State Department official Patrick Kennedy’s idea in a January 24, 2009 email that a computer be installed in Clinton’s office so she could use it to check her emails.
Mills will reply, “Secretary Clinton was not a computer user. And so I don’t know that it solved the solution of being able to be in communication electronically with her staff. […] I don’t know why it was not set up. I do know that she was not someone who used a computer. And so to the extent the objective was to place that computer there for her use, it would not have been used.”
Mills says she might have discussed the issue with Clinton, but she doesn’t remember. Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry as well as an iPad to check her emails instead. (Judicial Watch, 5/31/2016)
Clinton exchanges 19 emails with Army General David Petraeus, who is chief of the US Central Command at the time. The exchange will continue into February 2009.
In 2015, Clinton will claim that she didn’t start using her email account for government work until March 18, 2009. As a result, all the emails she will later hand over to the State Department will be from March 18 or later. These emails have not yet been made public. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
In August 2015, in a sworn deposition to a federal court, Clinton will claim: “I, Hillary Rodham Clinton, declare under penalty of perjury that the following is true and correct: While I do not know what information may be ‘responsive’ for purposes of this law suit, I have directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records he provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.” (Judicial Watch, 8/10/2015)
The 19 emails between Clinton and Petraeus from January 2009 will be discovered by the Defense Department in September 2015, one month after Clinton’s sworn deposition. Presumably, they come from Petraeus’ email account. (Reuters, 9/26/2016)
Around February 2009, the NSA refuses to make a BlackBerry for Clinton that’s secure enough to use in SCIF rooms, citing security concerns. (Highly classified materials can only be read in SCIF rooms, and Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF room.)
According to a September 2016 FBI report, at roughly the same time, Clinton’s executive staff also ask about the possibility of Clinton using an iPad to read her emails in her office. But “this request was also denied due to restrictions associated with the Secretary’s office being in a SCIF.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
However, the FBI will fail to mention that the iPad won’t actually be announced by Apple until January 2010, and won’t be released until a couple of months after that, making the above claim impossible. (Apple.com, 1/27/2010)
Clinton will buy an iPad and begin using it a couple of months after it comes out, in July 2010.
Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF, which means a secure room, and she’s not allowed to bring her BlackBerry into it. Also, Clinton is unwilling to use a computer to check her emails. But around this time, security officials create a space where she can check her BlackBerry.
In 2016, a State Department official will explain, “There is an area dedicated to supporting the secretary outside but in the immediate vicinity of the secretary’s secure office. Secretary Clinton, as with anyone, could use such non-SCIF spaces to check personal devices.” Apparently, Clinton will use this arrangement for her entire four years as secretary of state. (Fox News, 3/16/2016)
Clinton sends a cable to all US diplomatic posts about the proper use of email. It includes the following point, referenced from the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM): “Unclassified material, including Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU), may be transmitted in email on the Internet. However, in accordance with 12 FAM 544.3, individual employees should decide whether unencrypted email provides appropriate protection for the specific information they are transmitting. Classified information must be transmitted on the classified intranet, except as provided in 5 FAM 731 (h).”
It also warns, “Use your government email address for business purposes only.” (WikiLeaks, 2012)