May 25, 2016: The State Department’s inspector general issues a report that sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices.

Cover of the Office of Inspector General's Report, May 25, 2016. (Credit: OIG)

Cover of the Office of Inspector General’s Report, May 25, 2016. (Credit: OIG)

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General releases a report with the title “Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements.” The 83-page report is the main headline at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, because it sheds new light on Clinton’s email scandal. The Post calls it “a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private server and that agency staff members would not have given their blessing if it had been sought because of ‘security risks.’”

The report did not cover the classified content of some of Clinton’s emails due to the on-going FBI investigation and instead focuses mainly on record management issues for Clinton as well as the four previous secretaries of state. The office’s inquiry was initiated by a request from Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015, and was led by Inspector General Steve Linick, who was appointed by President Obama in 2013. The report reveals:

  • There were “long-standing systemic weaknesses” in the State Department’s recordkeeping. Department officials were “slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks” of widespread email use. This problem went “well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state,” but most of the report focuses on Clinton’s tenure.
  • Former secretary Colin Powell is singled out for violating department policy by using a personal email account while in office, as Clinton did. But the report notes that in the four years between the end of Powell’s tenure and the start of Clinton’s, the department’s warnings about the “obligation” to mainly use government email accounts for work matters had become more detailed and frequent.
  • Dozens of department employees sometimes used personal email accounts for work matters. But only three were discovered who used such accounts exclusively: Clinton, Powell, and Scott Gration, who was US ambassador to Kenya in 2011 and 2012. Gration faced an internal rebuke for doing so and was forced to resign. Clinton was the only one to use a private server as well.
  • Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with security and records management officials, but investigators “found no evidence” that she had requested or received approval from anyone to conduct work matters mainly by personal emails. Furthermore, department officials “did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.”
  • Similarly, Clinton had not sought permission to use a private email server, and would not have received it if she had.
  • Clinton was required to demonstrate to security and records management officials that both her server and her mobile devices “met minimum information security requirements,” but she never did so.
  • Clinton should have handed over copies of her work emails immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Failure to do so violated department policies and the Federal Records Act. Instead, she provided only some work emails, and those only in December 2014, nearly two years later, after the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee began asking for some of her emails.
  • A video image from MSNBC's coverage of the inspector general's report, on May 25, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

    A video image from MSNBC’s coverage of the inspector general’s report, on May 25, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

    Clinton has claimed she effectively left copies of her emails with the State Department because she mainly emailed other department officials. However, the report says that was an inappropriate form of preservation. Additionally, four of her closest aides, whom she exchanged emails with most often, also made “extensive” use of personal email accounts, so none of those emails would have been preserved in State Department records just by being received by those aides.

  • There was “some awareness” of Clinton’s email account among senior department officials. But there also appear to have been efforts to keep her use of a private server a secret. For instance, in 2010, when two department computer technicians raised concerns that her server might not properly preserve records, a higher official told them her setup had been reviewed by lawyers and warned them “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.” Furthermore, no evidence of such a legal review has been found.
  • Clinton has claimed she exclusively used a private email account for “convenience.” However, this claim is belied by Clinton’s response to an email from Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, in November 2010. When Abedin prodded Clinton about “putting you on State email or releasing your email address to the department […] ,” Clinton replied that she would consider a |separate address or device, “but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
  • Clinton turned over 30,000 work-related emails in December 2014, while deleting another 31,000 emails she said were personal in nature. However, the report claims her email handover was “incomplete,” and there are gaps and missing emails. For instance, the above-mentioned November 2010 email was not handed over by Clinton but was found through other means.
  • Several incidents were uncovered in which Clinton or some of her aides worried that Clinton’s private server had been hacked. For instance, a January 2011 email to a Clinton aide said Clinton’s server was shut down because “someone was trying to hack us.” It is unknown if the server actually was broken into at that time. However, Clinton and her aides failed to alert department computer security personnel to the hacking attempts, as required by department policy.
  • Clinton, as well as nine of her former top aides, refused to be interviewed for the report. By contrast, the four previous secretaries of state, as well as current Secretary of State John Kerry, were interviewed.

(The Washington Post, 5/25/2016) (The New York Times, 5/25/2016) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton and her top aides refused to be interviewed for the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices.

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The report released on this day notes that it interviewed “dozens” of present and former State Department officials, including current Secretary of State John Kerry and the three secretaries prior to Clinton: Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. However, Clinton refused to be interviewed. Furthermore, nine of Clinton’s former top aides were singled out in the report for not being interviewed:

  • Cheryl Mills, chief of staff;
  • Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff for operations;
  • Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for policy, and then director of policy planning;
  • Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary for strategic communication;
  • John Bentel, director of the Information Resources Management (IRM) office;
  • Bryan Pagliano, special advisor to the deputy chief information officer (who also privately managed Clinton’s private server);
  • Heather Samuelson, senior advisor to the department (who determined which of Clinton’s emails to delete in late 2014);
  • Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources; and
  • Justin Cooper, whom the report calls “an individual based in New York who provided technical support for Secretary Clinton’s personal email system but who was never employed by the Department.”

The only other person singled out by the report for refusing to be interviewed is Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

The report was many months in the making. But on May 8, 2016, only two weeks before the report’s release, Clinton claimed in an interview that when it came to her emails, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of… my assistants to be very forthcoming.” (CNN, 5/8/2016) 

Later in the day, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon defends Clinton’s decision not to cooperate with the report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the [FBI investigation] and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet.” However, he didn’t clarify why Clinton couldn’t have cooperated with both investigations, especially since the FBI hasn’t even contacted her yet. (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: An unnamed State Department official admits that Clinton’s email setup was problematic.

According to the Washington Post, “[State Department] officials didn’t have a ‘complete understanding’ of Clinton’s email practices, the official said. The official added that, in retrospect, the agency ‘wouldn’t have recommended the approach.’”

The comments come shortly after the release of a State Department inspector general report that is sharply critical of Clinton’s email practices. But the official also says the department has no plans to take disciplinary action based on the report. It is not clear how the department could punish Clinton since she no longer works in government. (The Washington Post, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton’s spokesperson defends Clinton not cooperating for the inspector general’s report by claiming she’s cooperating with the FBI investigation instead.

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Clinton’s spokesperson, Brian Fallon, responds to the State Department inspector general’s report critiquing Clinton’s email practices.

He attempts to justify why Clinton and her top aides did not get interviewed for the inspector general’s report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the review being conducted by the Justice Department and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet. And she has similarly encouraged all of her aides to cooperate in every way with that Justice Department review.”

By “Justice Department review,” he is referring to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, even though the FBI director recently said they are conducting an “investigation” and not any kind of “review.”

Fallon argues that by the time the FBI investigation is done, “it will be impossible for anybody to suggest that she didn’t answer every question that anybody had.”

According to Politico, “He also said that there were questions raised about whether the inspector general—an independent position appointed by President Barack Obama—has an anti-Clinton bias, though he said there was no indication of any bias in the [inspector general’s report].” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Guccifer pleads guilty as part of an apparent deal to cooperate with US investigators.

Judge James Cacheris (Credit: public domain)

Judge James Cacheris (Credit: public domain)

The Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer pleads guilty in a US court to charges of identity theft and unauthorized access to protected computers. At a plea hearing before US District Court Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria, VA, he admits that he broke into email and social media accounts of about 100 US citizens between 2012 and 2014.

Guccifer is best known for breaking into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013 and thus publicly revealing Clinton’s private email address. He could face up to seven years in prison in the US, on top of the seven years he is already serving in Romania.

He is due to be sentenced on September 1, 2016. However, it is alleged that his guilty plea is part of a deal to cooperate with the US government, possibly including the FBI’s Clinton investigation. It has been reported that he will cooperate with the government in other investigations and be “reasonably available for debriefing and pre-trial conferences as the US may require.” He also has agreed to turn over any documents or other materials “that may be relevant to investigations or inquires.” (LawNewz, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The New York Times rebuts every claim the Clinton campaign makes criticizing the inspector general’s report.

Hours after a report is released by the State Department’s inspector general that is highly critical of Clinton’s email practices, the Clinton campaign releases a statement that largely dismisses the report’s critique. The New York Times analyzes and disputes every claim made in the 203-word Clinton rebuttal:

  • “The inspector general documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email.” The Times points out that only former Secretary of State Colin Powell exclusively used a personal email account for work matters, and nobody else used a private email server.
  • “The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record-keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor.” The Times notes the department did have long-standing recordkeeping issues. However, the rules became more stringent by the time Clinton became secretary of state. Most of Clinton’s predecessors simply didn’t use email at all.
  • “Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the department during her tenure…” The Times notes that many in the State Department did know of Clinton’s private email address, due to exchanging emails with her. “It is equally clear, however, that senior department officials were sensitive about people raising red flags about it. When two junior staff members expressed concerns to their boss in the Information Records Management office, he ‘instructed the staff never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.’”
  • “There is no evidence of any successful breach of the secretary’s server.” While it is true the report contains no proof the server was breached, the server was shut down twice due to hacker attacks. Prior to the report, Clinton claimed there was no evidence it was even attacked.
  • “We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that.” The Times notes, “many of these regulations [pointed out in the report] existed, in one form or another, when she was in office.”
  • “As this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.” The Times counters, “Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email and server stored in her home was, in fact, unique. She left the State Department without turning over any emails, and only did so after she was contacted by the department’s lawyers, who were under pressure to produce documents from the House Select Committee on Benghazi.” Furthermore, the emails she turned over now appear to be incomplete.
  • The Times concludes by noting that the Clinton campaign statement “does not repeat an assertion Mrs. Clinton has made before: that her arrangement, while unwise, was permitted. Last September, she told the Associated Press: ‘What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that.’” (The New York Times, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: A former senior State Department military adviser claims Clinton’s “sloppy communications with her senior staff” may have compromised at least two counterterrorism operations.

Wanted Poster for terrorist Umbra Jumdail a.k.a. Dr. Abu (Credit: NBC News)

Wanted Poster for terrorist Umbra Jumdail a.k.a. Dr. Abu (Credit: NBC News)

Bill Johnson was the department’s political adviser to the special operations section of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) from 2010 to 2011, after a long military career. He says secret plans targeting Umbra Jumdail, the leader of a Filipino Islamist separatist group, as well as plans to intercept Chinese-made weapons components being smuggled into Iraq, were both repeatedly foiled.

He claims that he and his team determined unprotected phone calls of Clinton and her aides were the likely problem, after eliminating other possibilities. Johnson says, “I had several missions that went inexplicably wrong, with the targets one step ahead of us.” For instance, his target Jumdail in the Philippines was repeatedly tipped off. He traced the problem to unsecure communications between Washington, DC, and the US embassy in Manila. “Anyone can just sit outside the embassy and listen” with off-the-shelf eavesdropping devices, he claims.

He argues that the leaks stopped after Special Operations Command stopped giving advance warning to senior State Department officials about the raids. Jumdail was killed in a US-based airstrike not long thereafter.

Johnson says such problems “could’ve been avoided if the CIA gave her a secure phone. She requested one, but they turned it down.”

A Clinton spokesperson calls the allegations “patently false.” (Newsweek, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The State Department’s top two security officials say they would never have approved Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account.

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

A new State Department inspector general report determines that department rules required Clinton to get official approval to conduct official business using a personal email account on her private server, but she did not do so. 

In the words of the report, Steven C. Taylor, current head of Information Resources Management (IRM) and Gregory Starr, current head of Diplomatic Security (DS), jointly claim that Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs. However, according to these officials, DS and IRM did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton didn’t consult with anybody about exclusively using a personal email address or private server for work matters.

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

When former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills testified to the House Benghazi Committee in a private session on September 3, 2015, her comments remained secret.

However, on this day, a State Department inspector general’s report makes one portion of her testimony public. Mills was asked by the committee, “Was anyone consulted about Secretary Clinton exclusively using a personal email address for her work?”

Mills replied, “I don’t recall that. If it did happen, I wasn’t part of that process. But I don’t believe there was a consultation around it, or at least there’s not one that I’m aware of…”

Mills then was asked if Clinton consulted with “private counsel,” or “the general counsel for the State Department,” or “anybody from the National Archives [and Records Administation (NARA)],” or “anyone from the White House.”

Mills replied she wasn’t aware of any consultation from any of those people either.

The inspector general’s report also included comments from many other senior department officials about this, and “These officials all stated that they were not asked to approve or otherwise review the use of Secretary Clinton’s server and that they had no knowledge of approval or review by other Department staff. These officials also stated that they were unaware of the scope or extent of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account, though many of them sent emails to [her] on this account.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: A Bill Clinton assistant with no security clearance and no special computer expertise helped manage Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

It had been previously believed that Bryan Pagliano was the one who managed Clinton’s private server. But the State Department inspector general’s report released on this day reveals that there actually were “two individuals who provided technical support to Secretary Clinton.”

The report rarely names names, but the individual other than Pagliano is described as someone who “was at one time an advisor to former President [Bill] Clinton but was never a [State] Department employee, [and] registered the clintonemail.com domain name on January 13, 2009.” Previous media reports made clear the person who registered the domain on that day and was an aide to Bill Clinton is Justin Cooper. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (The Washington Post, 03/10/2015) 

In 2015, the Washington Post reported that Cooper had “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) 

However, the inspector general’s report describes a January 2011 incident in which Cooper turned Clinton’s server off and on in response to a hacker attack, showing he had direct access to the server and thus all the classified information contained inside it. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

In April 2016, the Washington Times alleged that Bill and Hillary Clinton “have paid [Cooper’s] legal fees associated with the FBI investigation, amounting to ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars.’” (The Washington Times, 4/27/2016)

Between May 25, 2016 and July 5, 2016: State Department official John Bentel denies all allegations of wrongdoing in an FBI interview.

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

According to a 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, department officials alleged that John Bentel, the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat for Information Resource Management, discouraged them from raising concerns about Clinton’s use of personal email. The report also alleges that Bentel falsely claimed that Clinton had legal approval for the use of her computer system.

At some point between the release of this report on May 25, 2016 and the conclusion of the FBI’s Clinton investigation by July 5, 2016, Bentel is interviewed by the FBI. According to an FBI summary, “Bentel denied that State [Department] employees raised concerns about Clinton’s email to him, that he discouraged employees from discussing it, or that he was aware during Clinton’s tenure that she was using a personal email account or server to conduct official State business.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

May 26, 2016: Clinton doubles down with her justifications, contradicting the inspector general’s report.

Clinton defends her email use with ABC News on May 26, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton defends her email use with ABC News on May 26, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton is interviewed by ABC News one day after the release of the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices. The ABC News headline about the interview says she “doubles down” on defending her past behavior. “This report makes clear that personal email use was the practice for other secretaries of state. It was allowed. And the rules have been clarified since I left.”

But, as ABC News points out, the report showed “that Clinton shouldn’t have used a private email server to conduct official business and would have not been allowed to do so had she asked. It also found that she should have turned over emails after her tenure and violated department policy.”

When asked why she did not agree to be interviewed for the report, “despite repeatedly saying she would talk to anyone, anytime about her emails,” Clinton replies, “I have talked about this for many, many months. I testified for eleven hours before the Benghazi Committee. I have answered numerous questions. We have posted information on our website and the information that we had is out there.” (ABC News, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: Senate investigators protest they were not given copies of emails from Clinton and her top aides that were given to the State Department.

The State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s emails released one day earlier referred to some Clinton work-related emails that were not included in the 30,000 work emails Clinton turned over in December 2014. Senate investigators had asked the State Department for all of Clinton’s emails months ago.

Furthermore, in the summer of 2015, the department got 72,000 pages of work emails from four of Clinton’s top aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—and yet the department didn’t share those with Congressional investigators either.

Senator Charles Grassley (R), who has been leading a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server, says, “Documents in those 72,000 pages were systematically withheld from Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requestors and Congressional oversight committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair. […] It is disturbing that the State Department knew it had emails like this and turned them over to the inspector general, but not to Congress.” (The Associated Press, 5/26/2016) 

Even after the inspector general’s report was released, there still has been no sign the Department has shared those emails.

May 26, 2016: Justice Department lawyers are “wholly opposed” to Clinton being deposed in a civil suit related to her emails.

Justice Department lawyers oppose Judicial Watch’s request that Clinton give a sworn deposition. There are two closely related civil suits in which Judicial Watch has been granted the right of discovery, allowing them to depose witnesses. Six of Clinton’s former aides are already being deposed in the suit presided over by federal judge Emmet Sullivan.

Judicial Watch recently requested that Clinton be deposed in the other suit, presided over by federal judge Royce Lamberth. However, department lawyers argue that Lamberth should let the depositions in the other case play out before allowing Clinton to be deposed in his case. They call the request “wholly inappropriate,” adding, “Judicial Watch makes no attempt here to justify why the witnesses it names would provide any relevant information that is not redundant and cumulative of the discovery that has already been ordered and initiated.”

However, while they oppose Clinton being deposed, they do not oppose Judicial Watch’s request to depose former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan. So far, Judicial Watch has not asked for Clinton or Sullivan to be deposed in the other suit. (Politico, 5/27/2016)

May 27, 2016: New evidence raises the possibility a State Department official could have been preventing other officials from acting on Clinton’s unlawful email practices.

Douglas Cox (Credit: Cuny School of Law)

Douglas Cox (Credit: Cuny School of Law)

Yahoo News reports that “Senate investigators and a conservative group [Judicial Watch] are zeroing in on newly revealed evidence about the activities of a now retired State Department computer specialist in orchestrating what they charge was a ‘cover-up’ of the former secretary of state’s email practices.” That person is John Bentel, who was director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office until December 2012.

According to a newly released State Department inspector general’s report, in late 2010, two IRM staffers separately raised issues with Bentel that some of Clinton’s private emails might need to be preserved to comply with the law and regulations. But according to the report, Bentel told one of the staffers that Clinton’s email practices had been “reviewed and approved by Department legal staff”—which was not true—and “that the matter was not to be discussed any further.” Bentel told the other staffer that the mission of the IRM “is to support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”

In response to this report, Senator Chuck Grassley (R) says, “If what these two witnesses said is true, it is an outrage, and it raises a lot of serious questions. Good and honest employees just trying to do their job were told to shut up and sit down. Concerns about the secretary’s email system being out of compliance with federal record-keeping laws were swept under the rug.”

Additionally, in June 2015, Bentel told the House Benghazi Committee that he had “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state.

But in August 2011, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, emailed the idea of giving Clinton a new email address because “her personal email server is down.” Bentel suggested giving Clinton a government email account, but warned, “you should be aware that any email would go through the department’s infrastructure and [be] subject to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] searches.”

Grassley says he intends to learn more about Bentel’s role in a possible cover-up. And Judicial Watch plans to question former Clinton aides like Abedin and Cheryl Mills about Bentel’s role when they are deposed under oath in the coming weeks.

Law professor Douglas Cox say that Bentel’s role was “the most shocking part of the [inspector general’s] report. It shows there was dissent within the State Department precisely by the people responsible for insuring compliance with record-keeping and cyber-security issues—and they were told something that appears not to be true.” (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016) (The New York Times, 5/26/2016)

June 12, 2016: WikiLeaks says it will be making public more of Clinton’s previously unpublished emails.

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

In an interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is asked if his organization has any of Clinton’s “undisclosed emails.” He replies, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” and “We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton pending publication, that is correct.” He also says, “There is very strong material both in the emails and in relation to the Clinton Foundation.”

He believes this contains enough evidence for the FBI to recommend Clinton’s indictment: “We’ve accumulated a lot of material about Hillary Clinton. We could proceed to an indictment.”

He doesn’t specify when or how many emails might be published. Asked about the FBI’s Clinton investigation, he believes the Justice Department will do the bidding of President Obama and so they will not indict Clinton. (The Guardian, 6/12/2016(ITV, 6/12/2016)

Several days later, a hacked using the nickname Guccifer 2.0 shares files from a recent hack of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and claims to have given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks. (Wired, 6/15/2016) (Vice News, 6/15/2016) 

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 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.

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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 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)