January 7, 2016: Blumenthal is interviewed by the FBI, and is asked about his intelligence memos to Clinton.

Blumenthal appears on MSNBC's Chris Hayes show to discuss emails and the campaign. (Credit: MSNBC)

Blumenthal appears on MSNBC  on May 13, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Sid Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, reporter, and Clinton Foundation employee in the years Clinton is secretary of state. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.

The FBI identified at least 179 out of the over 800 emails that Blumenthal sent to Clinton containing information in an intelligence memo format. The State Department determined that 24 Blumenthal memos that contained information currently classified as “confidential,” as well as one classified as “secret”  both currently and when it was sent.

Blumenthal tells the FBI that the content of the memos was provided to him from a number of different sources, including former US government officials and contacts, as well as contacts within foreign governments.

(In one email to Clinton, Blumenthal mentioned intelligence that he said came from an active US official, but apparently the FBI doesn’t ask him about this. The FBI report also will not mention emails in which Clinton sent Blumenthal classified information, despite him having no security clearance.)

Blumenthal’s memos contained a notation of “CONFIDENTIAL”  in all capital letters. He claims this meant the memos were personal in nature and didn’t refer to the US government category of classified information at the “confidential” level.

Blumenthal claims he was not tasked to provide this information to Clinton, but he sent the emails because he thought they could be helpful. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 7, 2016: The State Department’s internal watchdog slams the department’s FOIA process.

The State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick issues a report claiming that the department “repeatedly provided inadequate and inaccurate responses to Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests involving top agency officials, including a misleading answer to a request three years ago seeking information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email use.”

Politico states the new report also points to “a series of failures in the procedures the office of the secretary used to respond to public records requests, including a lack of written policies and training, as well as inconsistent oversight by senior personnel.”

According to the report, “These procedural weaknesses, coupled with the lack of oversight by leadership and failure to routinely search emails, appear to contribute to inaccurate and incomplete responses.”

CREW's Logo (Credit: CREW)

CREW’s Logo (Credit: CREW)

One important flawed department response was a letter sent to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in May 2013 after the organization asked for details on email accounts used by Clinton. State’s response to CREW was, “no records responsive to your request were located.” The report says the inspector general’s office “found evidence that [Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills] was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up.” However, according to the report, none of those officials appear to have reviewed the results of the search done in the department’s files, and there was “no evidence” that those staffers who did the search and responded to CREW knew about Clinton’s private email setup.  CREW followed up last year by saying it never received any final response to its FOIA request.

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

Other flaws pointed out by the inspector general’s report include extreme delays in other cases, such as an Associated Press FOIA request for Clinton’s schedules that was pending without substantive response for five years.

Politico also filed a FOIA request for legal and ethics reviews of former President Bill Clinton’s paid speeches. That request was pending for four years before the department began producing records.

The Gawker Logo (Credit: Gawker Media)

Another failed response involved a Gawker request for emails that former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines exchanged with 34 news organizations. Politico reports “that request initially received a “no records” response from [the] State [Department], even though State has now found 81,000 potentially responsive emails in its official files. At a court hearing last month, a government lawyer would not concede that the no-records response was inadequate.” (Politico, 1/7/2016)

 

January 11, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could be looking into Clinton Foundation corruption.

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: Washington Examiner)

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: opensecrets.org)

Fox News reports, “The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state has expanded to look at whether the possible ‘intersection’ of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws,” according to three unnamed “intelligence sources.”

One source says, “The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts, and whether regular processes were followed.”

Clinton denies this, saying, “No, there’s nothing like that that is happening.”

However, Fox News points out, “Experts including a former senior FBI agent said the Bureau does not have to notify the subject of an investigation.” (Fox News, 1/11/2016) 

One month later, the Washington Post will report that the State Department issued a subpoena to the Clinton Foundation in late 2015. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will confirm the existence of an FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, which has been on-going since 2015.

January 21, 2016: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes foreign countries hacked into Clinton’s private email server.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (Credit: ABC News)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (Credit: ABC News)

He says in an interview, “Given the fact that the Pentagon acknowledges that they get attacked about 100,000 times a day, I think the odds are pretty high.” Russia, China, and Iran are suggested as countries that would have targeted her server. Gates was defense secretary from 2006 to 2011, under Presidents Bush and Obama. In 2015, Gates praised Clinton, saying, “She was a good secretary of state.” (The Hill, 1/21/2016)

January 21, 2016: Clinton denies news reports that she received top secret information in her emails.

Clinton poses with supporters during a rally on January 21, 2016, in Vinton, Iowa. (Jae C. Hong / The Association Press)

Clinton poses with supporters during a rally on January 21, 2016, in Vinton, Iowa. (Jae C. Hong / The Association Press)

While greeting potential voters on the campaign trail in Iowa, Clinton is asked by a private citizen about her email scandal: “How do you plan to sidestep the reality that you are sending secure, SAP [special access program] emails on your private, unsecured server?”

Clinton replies, “You know what, it’s not true. It’s not true. I never sent or received—”

The citizen interrupts to ask, “You never received top secret information on your private server?”

Clinton responds, “No, no—I did not.” (Politico, 1/21/2016) 

Recent news reports said that Clinton had received emails containing “top secret” information, including information about above top secret/special access programs. (The New York Times, 1/19/2016)

January 21, 2016: Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey writes an editorial entitled “Clinton’s Emails: A Criminal Charge Is Justified.”

Attorney General Michael Mukasey (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Attorney General Michael Mukasey (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mukasey argues that “intelligence community investigators believe it is nearly certain that Mrs. Clinton’s server was hacked, possibly by the Chinese or the Russians… [F]rom her direction that classification rules be disregarded, to the presence on her personal email server of information at the highest level of classification, to her repeated falsehoods of a sort that juries are told every day may be treated as evidence of guilty knowledge—it is nearly impossible to draw any conclusion other than that she knew enough to support a conviction at the least for mishandling classified information.” (The Wall Street Journal, 1/21/2016)

January 29, 2016: 22 emails retroactively deemed “top secret” had been sent through Clinton’s private server.

This is revealed by the State Department. However, the department will not make public any part of the 22 emails, not even the years they were sent or who sent them, because they contain such highly classified information. It is believed the 22 emails occurred in seven different email chains. (The New York Times, 1/29/2016) The US government defines “top secret” as “information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016) 

A Clinton spokesperson claims that none of those emails originated with Clinton. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 29, 2016: The State Department announces it is launching its own Clinton email investigation.

It will look into whether information on Clinton’s private server was classified at the time it was sent or received. The Wall Street Journal calls this a “dramatic reversal,” since the State Department has consistently downplayed the issue. This investigation is in addition to the FBI investigation and other inquiries. It is also separate from the investigation being conducted by the State Department’s inspector general office. (The Wall Street Journal, 1/29/2016)

January 30, 2016: It is revealed that four emails from Sid Blumenthal to Clinton have been entirely redacted.

This is notable because at the time Clinton is secretary of state, Blumenthal is a private citizen (and journalist and Clinton Foundation employee) with no government security clearance at the time. Dozens of other Blumenthal emails have been partly redacted, but here are the four fully redacted ones, with only the subject headings known:

  • June 23, 2009, titled “N. Ireland/Shaun.” This is a likely reference to Shaun Woodward, who is the secretary of state for Northern Ireland at the time.
  • June 20, 2011, titled “memo hrc Bahrain/Iran.” This is redacted because it contains information related to foreign activities.
  • June 28, 2012, titled “some intel on internal german/euro maneuvering.”
  • August 3, 2012. This email is entirely redacted except for the statement that the email contains information from “sources with access to the highest levels of the Governments and institutions.”

Twenty-two emails have been deemed “top secret,” so no details whatsoever about them have been made public. It is not known if any of them were sent by Blumenthal. (The Daily Caller, 1/30/2016) 

The New York Observer comments, “How Mr. Blumenthal, who held no US Government position after January 2001, when Bill Clinton left the White House, had access to classified information a decade after that is not explained.” Furthermore, “Since Mr. Blumenthal’s emails were illegally accessed by a private hacker [Guccifer, in March 2013], they can be safely assumed in to be in the hands of numerous foreign intelligence services.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016)

January 31, 2016: Clinton dodges a question about the irrelevance of classification markings.

George Stephanopoulos (Credit: ABC News)

George Stephanopoulos (Credit: ABC News)

ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos asks Clinton, “You know, you’ve said many times that [your] emails were not marked classified. The non-disclosure agreement you signed as secretary of state says that that’s really not that relevant. It says classified information is marked or unmarked classified and that all of you are trained to treat all of that sensitively and should know the difference.”

Clinton replies, “Well of course and that’s exactly what I did. I take classified information very seriously. You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put on an unclassified system, no matter what that system is. We were very specific about that. And when you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”

The Washington Post reviews the exchange and says that Clinton’s answer is “only half of the story. Even without markings, officials are supposed to recognize that information passed through an unclassified system might be deemed as classified and should take steps to protect it.” Furthermore, Clinton did sign a non-disclosure agreement legally obligating her to do just that. (The Washington Post, 3/4/2016)

January 31, 2016: For the first time, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders criticizes Clinton over her email scandal.

Senator Bernie Sanders (Credit: public domain)

Senator Bernie Sanders (Credit: public domain)

Asked by a reporter if voters should interpret his refusal to highlight the issue means that Clinton did nothing wrong, Sanders replies “No. Nope, nope. That is not, I think, a fair assessment. That is, I think, a very serious issue,” However he adds, “There is a legal process taking place, I do not want to politicize that issue. It is not my style.” (CNN, 1/31/2016

Sanders’ more critical stance comes two days after news reports that 22 of Clinton’s emails were retroactively classified “top secret.” (The New York Times, 1/29/2016)

February 1, 2016: Some of Clinton’s 22 “top secret” emails allegedly contain “operational intelligence” involving espionage sources and methods.

John Schindler, a former National Security Agency (NSA) counterintelligence officer, claims that, “Discussions with Intelligence Community officials have revealed that Ms. Clinton’s ‘unclassified’ emails included Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] intelligence officers serving overseas under cover. Worse, some of those exposed are serving under non-official cover. […] At a minimum, valuable covers have been blown, careers have been ruined, and lives have been put at serious risk.” Additionally, some names of foreigners who are on the CIA payroll are mentioned.

One unnamed senior Intelligence Community official says that because of the likelihood that foreign governments have accessed all of Clinton’s emails, “It’s a death sentence. If we’re lucky, only agents, not our officers, will get killed because of this.”

Schindler comments, “Her defense seems to be that neither she nor anybody on her staff were able to recognize that top secret information was actually top secret, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of Hillary’s qualifications to be our next commander-in-chief.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016)

Four days later, a NBC News article comments on the same topic with more modest claims. According to unnamed US officials, the references to undercover officers were indirect and Clinton made no comment about them.

The article adds, “Some of the references to covert intelligence officers, and other discussions of CIA drone strikes, were against classification rules and were ‘sloppy,’ one official said. But views are split on whether they were damaging to national security.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

February 1, 2016: Some US intelligence officials are “mad as hell” about Clinton’s deleted emails.

An unnamed Pentagon counterintelligence official expresses concern that some of the 30,840 emails Clinton deleted may have been work-related. “I’ll spend the rest of my career trying to figure out what classified information was in those. […] Everybody is mad as hell right now.” This official adds, “The worst part is that Moscow and Beijing have that information but the [US] Intelligence Community maybe never will.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016)

February 1, 2016: A politician who saw Clinton’s top secret emails says it’s obvious they contained classified information.

Representative Mike Pompeo (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mike Pompeo (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mike Pompeo (R), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee and has seen the unreleased 22 “top secret” Clinton emails, says, “There is no way that someone, a senior government official who has been handling classified information for a good chunk of their adult life, could not have known that this information ought to be classified, whether it was marked or not. Anyone with the capacity to read and an understanding of American national security, an 8th grade reading level or above, would understand that the release of this information or the potential breach of a non-secure system presented risk to American national security.”

He adds, “Anytime our national security team determines that there’s a potential breach, that is information that might potentially have fallen into the hands of the Iranians, or the Russians, or the Chinese, or just hackers, that they begin to operate in a manner that assumes that information has in fact gotten out.” (The Washington Post, 2/2/2016)

February 3, 2016: Clinton’s top secret emails are said to reveal sources, methods, and assets.

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: The Salt Lake Tribune)

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: The Salt Lake Tribune)

Representative Chris Stewart (R), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who has viewed Clinton’s 22 “top secret” emails, says those emails “do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets.” He adds, “I can’t imagine how anyone could be familiar with these emails, whether they’re sending them or receiving them, and not realize that these are highly classified.” (The Washington Post, 2/4/2016

Additionally, he claims that there are seven more Clinton emails with a classification of “top secret” or higher that the government has not publicly mentioned yet. (The Washington Examiner, 2/3/2016) 

The Washington Post reports, “Other sources who have viewed the emails do not describe [them] as strongly, though one official said Clinton’s aides might have put their security clearances at risk.” (The Washington Post, 2/3/2016) 

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee has also viewed the emails, claims that none of them originated from Clinton, were not marked as classified at the time, and do not deserve to be marked as such. (Dianne Feinstein, 1/29/2016)

In July 2016, it will be reported that there are eight chains of top secret emails instead of the previously reported seven, suggesting that Stewart was right that there are more than 22. It will also be reported by FBI Director James Comey that some of the top secret emails originated from Clinton, all of them deserved to be marked “top secret,” and all contained classified information when they were sent. (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

February 4, 2016: Clinton still holds a security clearance despite her mishandling of “top secret” information.

Bloomberg News reports that there is a debate in high-level political circles over whether Clinton should be allowed to keep her security clearance or not during the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Predictably, Democrats say she should while Republicans say she shouldn’t. It was reported in late January 2016 that 22 emails on her unapproved private server contained “top secret” and even above “top secret” information. (Bloomberg News, 2/4/2016) 

In October 2015, the State Department reportedly confirmed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R) that Clinton still holds a security clearance for TS/SCI [Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information] the highest-level security clearance, and apparently nothing has changed since then. It is standard practice for high-ranking officials to retain their clearances after leaving office. (The Free Beacon, 10/7/2015)

February 4, 2016: A handful of publicly released Clinton emails make indirect or veiled references to undercover CIA officers.

For instance, a CIA officer is referred to as a “State” Department official, with the quote marks suggesting the person is not actually a diplomat. Another email refers to “OGA,” which stands for “other government agency” and is a common pseudonym within government circles for the CIA. NBC News notes, “The messages at issue are part of a longstanding pattern of senior officials at the State Department and other government agencies trying to talk around classified information over email, sometimes unsuccessfully.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

February 5, 2016: The State Department completes a review of the email practices of the past five secretaries of state.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)

It finds that Colin Powell received two emails that were classified. And while Condoleezza Rice didn’t use emails, the “immediate staff” working for her received ten emails that were classified. In both cases, the information was deemed either “secret” or “confidential,” but not “top secret,” and was not marked classified when it was sent.

Powell responds by saying about his two emails, “I have reviewed the messages and I do not see what makes them classified. […] The State Department cannot now say they were classified then because they weren’t.” Also, Powell’s emails stayed on government computer servers.

These cases differ from Clinton’s, who had at least some top secret, “born classified” emails on her private server. (CNN, 2/5/2016) Additionally, none of the emails in either the Powell or Rice cases actually contained any intelligence information, and were classified for other, unmentioned reasons. (ABC News, 3/4/2016)

February 5, 2016: The New York Times reveals a few more details about what Clinton’s 22 emails deemed “top secret” contain.

A Reaper drone firing its missile. (Credit: public domain)

A Reaper drone firing its missile. (Credit: public domain)

The Times reports, “It remains unknown what exactly the 22 emails contain, given their classification as ‘top secret,’ but [some US] officials described them generally, on the condition of anonymity. The officials included people familiar with or involved in the handling of the emails in government agencies and in Congress.”

  • Officials from US intelligence agencies have battled with State Department officials over what should be considered classified in Clinton’s emails, with the intelligence agencies arguing for more classification and the State Department arguing for less. But in the case of Clinton’s 22 top secret emails, even the State Department agreed that all 22 should be deemed top secret or even above top secret.
  • The emails comprise seven distinct email chains, and most of those chains involve discussions of the CIA drone program. The Obama administration has generally considered the program highly classified, even though details of it have been widely reported. However, some Clinton’s emails contain unredacted mentions of the drone program, so it is the discussion of certain details of the drone program that merit a top secret classification. For instance, some of the top secret emails include an email discussion relating to an unnamed New York Times article that “contained sensitive information about the intelligence surrounding the CIA’s drone activities, particularly in Pakistan.”
  • At least one of the email chains was started by Richard Holbrooke, “who as the administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan would have been intimately involved in dealing with the ramifications of drone strikes.” He died in December 2010.
  • “Some of the emails” include information deemed “top secret/SAP,” which means “special access programs.” The Times calls these programs “among the government’s most closely guarded secrets.”
  • “At least one of the emails contain[s] oblique references to CIA operatives.” One email has been given a designation of “HCS-O,” which indicates the information came from human intelligence sources. However, officials say that “none of the emails mention specific names of CIA officers or the spy agency’s sources.” (The New York Times, 2/5/2016)

February 9, 2016—February 22, 2016: The FBI is unable to obtain any of Clinton’s BlackBerrys to examine them; two useful Clinton iPads are found, but they only contain three previously unknown emails.

The FBI’s Clinton email investigation determines that Clinton used 11 BlackBerrys while she was secretary of state, and two more using the same phone number after she left office. On February 9, 2016, the Justice Department requests all 13 BlackBerrys from Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall.

Williams & Connolly replies on February 22, 2016 that they were unable to locate any of them. As a result, the FBI is unable to acquire or forensically examine any of Clinton’s BlackBerrys.

The FBI also identifies five iPads associated with Clinton which she could have used to send emails. The FBI obtains three of them, though it’s not clear if they come from Williams & Connolly or other sources. One iPad was given away by Clinton shortly after she bought it, so it is not examined by the FBI.

Out of the other two, one contains three previously unknown Clinton emails from 2012 in the “drafts”” folder. The FBI assesses the three emails and determines they don’t contain any potentially classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 10, 2016: As many as 30 different people were included in the 22 known “top secret” messages sent to Clinton.

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

An unnamed US official claims that top Clinton aides including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Philippe Reines, Jake Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy were CCed on at least some of those emails. (The Hill, 2/10/2016) 

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top national security and foreign policy staffer, sent 215 classified emails to Clinton, more than anyone else. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016He is said to be the author of at least one of the emails sent to Clinton that was later deemed “top secret,” and he may be responsible for others.

Politico reports, “Sullivan both initiated email conversations and also forwarded along messages with sensitive information, and he sometimes added additional content on the email chains in question, according to [our] sources.” As a result, Sullivan could face extra scrutiny from FBI investigators.

Another source says about three of Clinton’s top aides sent her highly classified material. (Politico, 2/10/2016)

February 16, 2016: It is discovered that three Clinton aides used email accounts from Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign for State Department work.

According to Politico, recently discovered emails show that three of Clinton’s former staffers used accounts from a domain linked to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, used the account cmills@hillaryclinton.com in an April 5, 2009 email. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, used the account habedin@hillaryclinton.com in a February 22, 2012 email. And Clinton’s computer technician, Bryan Pagliano, used the account bpagliano@hillaryclinton.com in a March 21, 2010 email. These accounts apparently are in addition to other work and personal emails used by all three people.

These discoveries lead the conservative government watchdog group Cause of Action to write a letter to Judiciary chair Charles Grassley (R) and Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz (R), asking them to look into whether Mills, Abedin, and Pagliano have turned over all their work emails from the domain, and whether other Clinton aides also had hillaryclinton.com accounts that were used for work. The group also wants to know why the domain was kept active long after Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign was over, and who was paying for it. Furthermore, the group questions if the use of such email accounts could violate the Hatch Act, which bars campaign activities from crossing into official government duties. (Politico, 2/16/2016) (US Department of State, 7/31/2015) (US Department of State, 5/13/2015) (US Department of State, 1/15/2016)

February 18, 2016 and May 3, 2016: A Platte River Networks employee is interviewed twice by the FBI and gives contradictory answers.

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company managing Clinton’s private server from June 2013 until at least October 2015, and PRN employee Paul Combetta played a pivotal role in the deletion of Clinton’s emails from her server.

On February 18, 2016, Combetta is interviewed by the FBI for the first time. He says that between March 25 and 31, 2015, he realized he failed to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account on her server, as Clinton’s lawyer (and former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills told him to do in December 2014. This would result in the deletion of some of her emails after 60 days. However, he claims that despite this realization, he still didn’t take any action. Additionally, on March 9, 2015, Mills sent him and other PRN employees an email which mentioned that the House Benghazi Committee had made a formal request to preserve Clinton’s emails. Combetta tells the FBI that he didn’t recall seeing the preservation request referenced in the email.

On May 3, 2016, Combetta has a follow-up FBI interview, and his answers on key issues completely contradict what he said before. This time, he says that when he realized between March 25 and 31, 2015 that he forgot to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account, he had an “oh shit!” moment. Then, instead of finally changing the policy settings, he entirely deleted Clinton’s email mailbox from the server,  and used the BleachBit computer program to effectively wipe the data to make sure it could never be recovered. He also deleted a Datto back-up of the data. And he did all this without consulting anyone in PRN or working for Clinton. Furthermore, he admits that he was aware of the mention in the March 9, 2015 email from Mills mentioning the Congressional request to preserve Clinton’s emails.

A September 2016 FBI report will simply note these contradictions. There will be no explanation why Combetta was not indicted for lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice, and other possible charges. There also will be no explanation why his answers changed so much in his second FBI interview, such as him possibly being presented with new evidence that contradicted what he’d said before. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 22, 2016: The FBI trusts Clinton’s account and does not check if her latest private server contains any of her old emails.

In December 2014, a hrcoffice.com domain was created on a different private server, and apparently Clinton switched to using an email account on that server around that time.

On February 22, 2016, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, tells the FBI in a letter: “Secretary Clinton did not transfer her clintonemail.com emails for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 to her hrcoffice.com account.” This time period represents Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

The FBI apparently trusts Clinton’s lawyer. A September 2016 FBI report will state: “The investigation found no evidence Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account contained or contains potentially classified information or emails from her tenure as secretary of state. The FBI has, therefore, not requested or obtained equipment associated with Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 23, 2016: Top Clinton aides will be questioned under oath in a civil suit.

Huma Abedin uses her smart phone in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 26, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Huma Abedin uses her smart phone in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 26, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rules that Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Bryan Pagliano, Cheryl Mills, Patrick Kennedy, and others would likely be questioned about Clinton’s use of her private email server. There is no immediate plan to question Clinton herself, but that could change. Sullivan’s ruling is in response to Judicial Watch, which has been seeking to determine if Clinton’s server thwarted federal open records laws. Sullivan comments that months of news about the email scandal has created “at least a reasonable suspicion” that public access to government records has been undermined.

Sullivan was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The judge gives Judicial Watch and government lawyers until April 12, 2016 to create a plan to proceed. The Washington Post notes this creates “the prospect that key Clinton aides would face questions just as she tries to secure the Democratic nomination and pivot to a hotly contested November general election.” (The Washington Post, 2/23/2016)

February 23, 2016: A federal judge asks about failure to turn over Clinton records: “How in the world could this happen?”

Judge Emmet Sullivan (Credit: public domain)

Judge Emmet Sullivan (Credit: public domain)

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, presiding over a lawsuit relating to Clinton’s emails, expresses puzzlement over the scandal. He notes that Clinton put the State Department in the position of having to ask her to return thousands of government records. He asks in a hearing, “Am I missing something? How in the world could this happen?” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) He adds, “It just boggles the mind a little that the State Department allowed this practice to occur in the first place. It is very, very troubling.” (CNN, 2/23/2016) He also comments, “There has been a constant drip, drip, drip of declarations. When does it stop? This case is about the public’s right to know.” (The Washington Post, 2/23/2016)

February 24, 2016: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden suggests that Clinton’s private server was almost certainly hacked by foreign governments.

CIA Director Michael Hayden (Credit: GovTechWorks)

CIA Director Michael Hayden (Credit: GovTechWorks)

Hayden is the only person ever to head both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA. He says, “I would lose all respect for a whole bunch of foreign intelligence agencies if they weren’t sitting back, paging through the emails” of Clinton.

He adds, “Once you’ve set it up [as she did], nobody has to be stupid, lazy, unintelligent—it’s gone bad. You’re going to end up with information on this private server that just shouldn’t be there, let alone all the questions about preserving government records. […] How much energy would I expend if I were still director of the National Security Agency and someone told me I could get access to the unclassified email server of [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov? I’d move heaven and Earth to do that. And here you’ve got these private, intimate conversations by a senior official of the US government sitting out there in what I would call an unprotected environment.”

Hayden was appointed head of the NSA by President Bill Clinton and then head of the CIA by President George W. Bush. (USA Today, 2/24/2016)

February 27, 2016: Jake Sullivan is interviewed by the FBI; he claims he never felt any unease about the many above top secret emails he sent to Clinton.

Clinton and Sullivan have a discussion during the Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

Clinton and Sullivan have a discussion during the House Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

When Clinton was secretary of state, Sullivan first served as her deputy chief of staff for policy and then as the director of policy planning. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.

The FBI determined that seven email chains containing 22 emails were sent by Sullivan to Clinton were later deemed classified at the “top secret/Special Access Program” (TP/SAP) level, which is above “top secret.”

As a result, much of the interview regards these emails. The FBI asks Sullivan to review about 14 emails he sent or received “on unclassified systems” that were later determined to contain classified information up to the TS/SAP level.

Sullivan gives some reasons why the emails may have been sent on Clinton’s unclassified server. According to the FBI, “With respect to the SAP, Sullivan stated that it was discussed on unclassified systems due to the operational tempo at that time, and State [Department] employees attempted to talk around classified information. Sullivan also indicated that, for some of the emails, information about the incidents described therein may have already appeared in news reports. … Sullivan did not recall any instances in which he felt uneasy about information conveyed on unclassified systems, nor any instances in which others expressed concerns about the handling of classified information at State.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Sullivan will also give his explanation of an email in which he wanted to send her a secure fax, but the fax machine wasn’t working and she told him to “send nonsecure.”

February 29, 2016: Final totals show over 2,000 of Clinton’s emails contained classified information.

The last batch of Clinton’s private emails are publicly released. Out of the 30,490 emails, 22 are deemed “top secret,” which is the highest level of classification. 65 are deemed “secret,” the middle level. 2,028 are “confidential,” the lowest level. That means that 2,115 emails, or seven percent of the total, have some classified ranking. 104 of the classified emails were sent by Clinton herself.

It has been reported that Clinton gave the State Department 30,490 emails, and 30,068 of these were ultimately released. Of the remaining 422 emails, 19 are emails between Clinton and President Obama that have not been released, and one more email withheld because it is part of a continuing investigation. It is not known why the remaining 402 have not been released. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016

However, it has been reported that some emails were returned to Clinton after a determination they were not work-related, so that could explain the discrepancy. (Politico, 9/4/2015)

February 29, 2016: Clinton’s 2,000 “confidential” emails could still be signs of serious crimes.

With all of the Clinton work emails publicly released, it is clear that the vast majority of her emails later deemed classified are considered “confidential.” 2,028 of her 2,115 classified emails have that ranking, which is the lowest classification ranking. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016) 

However, the Daily Beast has reported, “Excuses that most of [them] are considered ‘confidential’… cut no ice with many insiders. Although the compromise of information at that level is less damaging… it is still a crime that’s taken seriously by counterintelligence professionals. Most of the classified emails that Hillary and her staff seem to have compromised dealt with diplomatic discussions, which is a grave indiscretion as far as diplomats worldwide are concerned.” (The Daily Beast, 9/2/2015) 

Almost three-fourths of Clinton’s classified emails are deemed to contain “foreign government information,” meaning sensitive information from, to, or about foreign governments. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016)