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

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

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Jeh Johnson (Credit: public domain)

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

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

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

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Tom Kellermann (Credit: BBC News)

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

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

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Rich Barger (Credit: Threat Connect)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Chuck Grassley (Credit: The Associated Press)

Senator Chuck Grassley (Credit: The Associated Press)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew McCarthy (Credit: Gatestone Institute)

Andrew McCarthy (Credit: Gatestone Institute)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2, 2016: Clinton claims she had no role whatsoever in the sorting of her emails, but her account differs from the known facts in one important detail.

In Clinton’s FBI interview on this day, she is asked about her role in sorting her emails from her tenure as secretary of state into work-related and personal emails.

An FBI report published in September 2016 will summarize her response: “In the fall of 2014, Clinton recalled receiving a letter from [the] State [Department] which was also sent to former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeline Albright. From the letter, Clinton understood State was concerned there were gaps in their records and requested Clinton’s assistance in filling those gaps. Clinton wanted to assist State, so she directed her legal team to assist in any way they could. Clinton expected her team to provide any work-related or arguably work-related emails to State; however, she did not participate in the development of the specific process to be used or discussions of the locations where her emails might exist. Additionally, Clinton was not consulted on specific emails as to their content being work-related or not. Clinton did not have any conversations regarding procedures if any potentially classified information was discovered during the review of her emails because she had no reason to believe classified information would be found in her email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Clinton’s testimony differs from the known facts in one important detail. She claims that she didn’t direct her lawyers (David Kendall, Cheryl Mill, and Heather Samuelson) to begin the sorting process until she was formally asked about her email records at the same time other former secretaries of states were. That took place on October 28, 2014. The sorted work-related emails were given to the State Department on December 5, 2014, a little over one month later. However, Samuelson, the Clinton lawyer who did most of the sorting, said in her FBI interview that the sorting process took “several months.”

Furthermore, it is known that after the State Department informally asked for Clinton’s emails, Samuelson was first given some of Clinton’s emails to sort (all of those involving .gov email addresses) in late July 2014, and then was given all of Clinton’s emails to complete the sorting in late September 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 5, 2016: FBI Director Comey announces he will not recommend Clinton’s indictment on any charge, but he calls her “extremely careless” in handling highly classified information.

FBI Director James Comey announces his recommendation for Clinton and her aides on July 5, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

FBI Director James Comey announces his recommendation in a press conference on July 5, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

FBI Director James Comey gives a public speech in front of a group of reporters. The timing is surprising, since this brings an end to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s email practices, and just a Sunday and the Fourth of July holiday separate this from the FBI’s interview of Clinton on July 2, 2016. Comey spends most of his speech criticizing Clinton, but ends it by saying he will not recommend that the Justice Department pursue any indictment of Clinton or her aides.

Comey’s fifteen-minute speech includes the following information, in order, with key phrases bolded to assist in understanding.

Comey begins by describing the FBI investigation:

  • The investigation started with a referral from Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough, and “focused on whether classified information was transmitted” on Clinton’s personal email server during her time as secretary of state. It specifically “looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.” The FBI “also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal email server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.”
  • The FBI found that Clinton “used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways…”
  • The FBI analyzed the over 30,000 work emails that Clinton did turn over to the State Department in December 2014, working with other US government departments to determine which emails contained truly classified information at the time they were sent, and which ones were justifiably classified later.
  • James Comey (Credit: Fox News)

    James Comey (Credit: Fox News)

    From the group of 30,068 emails Clinton returned to the State Department, “110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was ‘top secret’ at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained ‘secret’ information at the time; and eight contained ‘confidential’ information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional emails were ‘up-classified’ to make them ‘confidential’; the information in those had not been classified at the time the emails were sent.”

  • It had previously been reported that the FBI had recovered most or all of the 31,830 emails that Clinton had deleted, allegedly because they contained personal information only. However, Comey reveals that was not the case, and thousands of emails were not recovered. He gives an example of how when one of Clinton’s servers was decommissioned in 2013, the email was removed and broken up into millions of fragments.
  • The FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails” that were not included in the 30,068 emails Clinton returned to the State Department, even though Clinton claimed under oath that she had returned all her work-related emails. The FBI found these after they “had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private email domain.” Others were found in the archived government email accounts of other government employees whom Clinton frequently communicated with. Still others were found “from the laborious review of the millions of email fragments” of the server decommissioned in 2013.
  • Out of these additional work emails, three were classified at the time they were sent or received – none at the ‘top secret’ level, one at the ‘secret’ level, and two at the ‘confidential’ level. None were found to have been deemed classified later.
  • Furthermore, Comey claims “we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many email users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her emails, so it is not surprising that we discovered emails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 emails to the State Department.”
  • 160705DeletingAttorneys

    The three Clinton attorneys who deleted emails are David Kendall (left), Cheryl Mills (center), and Heather Samuelson (right). (Credit: public domain)

    However, he also admits that “It could also be that some of the additional work-related emails we recovered were among those deleted as ‘personal’ by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her emails for production in 2014.” He claims that the three lawyers who sorted the emails for Clinton in late 2014 (David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson) “did not individually read the content of all of her emails…” Instead, they used keyword searches to determine which emails were work related, and it is “highly likely their search terms missed some work-related emails” that were later found by the FBI elsewhere.

  • Comey states it is “likely” that some emails may have disappeared forever. because Clinton’s three lawyers “deleted all emails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” But he says that after interviews and technical examination, “we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.”

Comey then begins stating his findings:

  • “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
  • As an example, he points out that “seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the ‘Top Secret/Special Access Program’ [TP/SAP] level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
  • He adds that it was a similar situation with emails classified at the “secret” level when they were sent, although he doesn’t specify how many.
  • He comments, “None of these emails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these emails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at departments and agencies of the US government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”
  • He notes that “only a very small number of the emails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
  • He then criticizes the State Department as a whole. The FBI found evidence that “the security culture” of the State Department “was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.” This was especially true regarding the use of unclassified email systems.
  • Then he addresses whether “hostile actors” were able to gain access to Clinton’s emails. Although no direct evidence of any successful hacking was found, he points out that “given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”

After laying out the evidence of what the FBI found, Comey moves to the FBI’s recommendation to the Justice Department. He admits that it is highly unusual to publicly reveal the FBI’s recommendation, but “in this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.”

James Comey (Credit: NPR)

James Comey (Credit: NPR)

Then he comes to these conclusions:

  • “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.”
  • To justify this decision, he claims he examined other cases involving the mishandling or removal of classified information, and “we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”
  • He then says, “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now. As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
  • He concludes by saying the FBI’s investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently, and without any kind of outside influence.

He doesn’t address the possibility of recommending the indictment of any of Clinton’s aides or other figures like Sid Blumenthal or Justin Cooper. He also doesn’t make any mention of the Clinton Foundation, though there have been media reports the FBI has been investigating it as well. After finishing his speech, he leaves without taking any questions from the media. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: A US Court of Appeals rules that work-related emails stored privately are still subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

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Dr. John Holdren (Credit: public domain)

One of the judges, David Sentelle, writes, “It would make as much sense to say that the department head could deprive requestors of hard-copy documents by leaving them in a file at his daughter’s house and then claiming that they are under her control.”

The case involves the private email account of Dr. John Holdren, an official working for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a branch of the White House. It overturns a March 2015 lower court ruling that said his privately stored emails were not subject to FOIA searches.

While the case doesn’t directly involve Clinton, it has obvious implications for her since the issue of Clinton storing her emails on her private server is so similar. For instance, in June 2016, a federal judge put a FOIA lawsuit related to Clinton’s privately held emails on hold, saying it would be “wise” to wait for this court’s ruling before proceeding with the suit. (The Washington Post, 7/6/2016) (The Associated Press, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: It appears Clinton’s emails include 29 at the “top secret” level, instead of the widely reported 22.

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

In his public speech ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation, FBI Director James Comey mentions Clinton’s emails contained eight chains containing “top secret’ information, instead of the previously reported seven chains of 22 emails. The New York Times reports that it is “not immediately clear what subject the eighth chain Mr. Comey cited involved, but his statement means that more than 22 emails already disclosed included ‘top secret’ information. Officials at the FBI did not respond to inquiries seeking further explanation.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

On February 3, 2016, Representative Chris Stewart (R), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who viewed Clinton’s 22 “top secret” emails, claimed that there are seven more Clinton emails with a classification of “top secret” that the government has not revealed. (The Washington Examiner, 3/3/2016) Comey’s remarks suggest Stewart was correct.

July 5, 2016: 113 of Clinton’s emails contained classified information at the time they were sent, destroying one of Clinton’s main excuses for her actions.

This is according to public comments by FBI Director James Comey. Three of these were not included in the emails Clinton turned over to the State Department, but were discovered by the FBI through other means. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The New York Times comments that this means those emails “should never have been sent or received on an unclassified computer network — not hers, not even the State Department’s official state.gov system. That fact refutes the core argument she and others have made: that the entire controversy turned on the overzealous, after-the-fact classification of emails as they were being made public under the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], rather than the mishandling of the nation’s secrets.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: The FBI says Clinton both sent and received emails in seven above “top secret” email chains.

Although FBI Director James Comey announces he will not recommend an indictment of Clinton, comments in his public speech reveal information that could be very politically damaging for Clinton. It was previously known that Clinton’s emails contained 22 “top secret” emails in seven different email chains. However, Comey reveals, “Those chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending and receiving emails about those same matters.”

This contradicts previous news reports that Clinton had only been the recipient of “top secret” emails. Comey also says that seven email chains contain “top secret / special access program” (TP/SAP) information, which is above top secret, plus one more previously unknown email chain at the “top secret” level. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The New York Times notes, “Those emails have been widely reported to include information about the Central Intelligence Agency’s program to use drones to track and kill terrorism suspects. … Only a small number of officials are allowed access to those programs, which are the nation’s most sensitive intelligence operations.”

Another 36 chains were “secret,” which means it includes information that “could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.” Eight more chains had information classified at the “confidential” level.

The Times comments that Comey’s speech “was, arguably, the worst possible good news Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign could have hoped for: no criminal charges, but a pointed refutation of statements like one she flatly made last August,” when she said, “I did not send classified material.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: A former FBI assistant director believes Comey made the case Clinton should be indicted for gross negligence and is puzzled that Comey concluded otherwise.

Chris Swecker (Credit: North Carolina Government Crime Commission)

Chris Swecker (Credit: North Carolina Government Crime Commission)

Chris Swecker is a former FBI assistant director for the Criminal Investigative Division. He comments on FBI Director James Comey’s announcement earlier in the day that the FBI will not recommend that Clinton be indicted. Swecker believes that Comey should have recommended an indictment, as “he seemed to be building a case for that and he laid out what I thought were the elements under the gross negligence aspect of it, so I was very surprised at the end when he said that there was a recommendation of no prosecution. And also, given the fact-based nature of this and the statement that no reasonable prosecutor would entertain prosecution, I don’t think that’s the standard.”

He concludes, “The facts are the facts, and in this case I think there are a lot of things that are very unusual about this.” (MSNBC, 7/5/2016)

 

July 5, 2016—November 3, 2016: A retired assistant FBI director claims to be hearing from an increasing number of FBI agents upset at Comey and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

James Kallstrom expresses his concern that the agency’s reputation has been sullied by FBI Director James Comey. (Credit: Fox News)

James Kallstrom is interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, on July 5, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

On July 5, 2016, former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom is interviewed by Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly about FBI Director James Comey’s announcement earlier in the day that he won’t recommend to indict Clinton.

He says, “I have defended him in the past, but those days are over… I thought the events of the last week there was something fishy going on… then he comes to that nonsensical conclusion that really wasn’t his to make.” He adds that he has spoken with about 15 current and former agents who “are basically worried about the reputation of the agency they love, that they’ve worked hard for all their life.” (The Washington Free Beacon, 7/6/2016)

On September 6, 2016, Kallstrom is interviewed by Kelly again, four days after the FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report and Clinton’s FBI interview summary are publicly released. He says he is “shocked and furious and dismayed” at Comey “pull[ing] the old political trick of waiting until a three-day holiday weekend and then releasing information,” as well as how the FBI conducted the interview of Clinton. He adds, “Megyn, I’ve had contact with 50 different people, both inside and outside, retired agents, that are basically disgusted. And, you know, it’s part of the last straw.” (Fox News, 9/6/2016)

On September 28, 2016, Kallstrom speaks on air to Kelly again. He says he has been contacted by hundreds of people, including “a lot of retired agents and a few on the job.” He claims the agents “involved in this thing feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back. … I think we’re going to see a lot more of the facts come out in the course of the next few months. That’s my prediction.”

Kallstrom poses for a Daily Beast article published on November 3, 2016. (Credit: Mary Altaffer)

James Kallstrom on November 3, 2016. (Credit: Mary Altaffer)

On November 3, 2016, the Daily Beast will publish an article largely based on a recent interview with Kallstrom. It will note that he recently endorsed Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. Kallstrom, a former Marine, founded a charity decades ago called the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. Trump’s personal charity, the Trump Foundation, gave Kallstrom’s charity $1,000,000 in May 2016, $100,000 in March 2016, and another $230,000 in prior years. These are unusually large numbers for Trump’s foundation. When Trump owned casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he allowed Kallstrom’s charity to hold fundraisers for free in them. Kallstrom met Trump on occasion over the years, often during public events.

Kallstrom tells the Daily Beast that he has gotten hundreds and hundreds of calls and emails from both active and retired agents. He claims that in all but two cases the agents have been supportive of what he’s said in his Fox News appearances, except for two agents who told him he should be more supportive of Comey. He claims that he’s never been in contact with agents directly involved with the Clinton email investigation, and has not tried to give them advice.

He says he’s apolitical and a registered independent voter, and although he plans to vote for Trump, he has never been involved in a campaign, including Trump’s. (The Daily Beast, 11/3/2016)

July 5, 2016—July 6, 2016: Comey’s comments indicate it is “very likely” Clinton’s emails were hacked, but solid proof may never be found.

In a July 5, 2016 public speech, FBI Director James Comey addresses the possibility that Clinton’s emails were accessed by outsiders. He says, “We did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal email domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The next day, the New York Times reports that although Comey said there was no “direct evidence” Clinton’s email account had been successfully hacked, “both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.”

The Times says that Comey’s comments were a “blistering” critique of Clinton’s “email practices that left Mrs. Clinton’s systems wide open to Russian and Chinese hackers, and an array of others.” However, “the central mystery — who got into the system, if anyone — may never be resolved.”

Adam Segal (Credit: public domain)

Adam Segal (Credit: public domain)

Adam Segal, a cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), says, “Reading between the lines and following Comey’s logic, it does sound as if the FBI believes a compromise of Clinton’s email is more likely than not. Sophisticated attackers would have known of the existence of the account, would have targeted it, and would not have been seen.”

Before Comey’s comments, Clinton and her spokespeople had said on numerous occasions that her server had never been hacked. In an October 2015 interview, President Obama came to a similar conclusion about her server: “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.”

The Times also comments that Comey’s “most surprising suggestion” may have been his comment that Clinton used her private email while in the territory of “sophisticated adversaries.” This is understood to mean China and Russia and possibly a few more countries.

Former government cybersecurity expert James Lewis says, “If she used it in Russia or China, they almost certainly picked it up.” (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)

Cybersecurity consultant Morgan Wright says the most likely suspects are Russia, China and Israel, “in that order.”

Ben Johnson, a former National Security Agency official and security strategist, says “Certainly foreign military and intelligence services” would have targeted Clinton’s emails. “They’re going to have a lot of means and motives to do this.” He also says it wasn’t just likely countries such as China and Russia, but “any country that’s looking to potentially have adversarial relations with us or just [desires] more relations with us.” He specifically cites Middle East countries specifically as having a likely motive. (Politico, 7/5/2016)

July 6, 2016: Although Clinton’s aides won’t be indicted, they may lose their security clearances.

Bill Savarino (Credit: public domain)

Bill Savarino (Credit: public domain)

The New York Times reports that although the FBI has decided not to recommend the indictment of Clinton or her former aides, the FBI’s Clinton investigation has “cast a cloud of doubt over the political futures of a number of her top advisers, including some expected to hold high-level jobs in her administration if she is elected president.”

On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey said that although there was no clear evidence that Clinton or her aides intended to violate national security laws, “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” He also noted that people in similar situations “are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”

The Times suggests this could affect the security clearances of “several dozen State Department advisers who, records show, facilitated Mrs. Clinton’s unorthodox email arrangement or used it to send her classified documents.” Those facing the most scrutiny are her former top advisers Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan, who continue to work closely with Clinton.

The State Department has restarted an internal investigation into Clinton’s email usage, and that could lead to some security clearances being revoked. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) has said that, based on the conclusions of the FBI’s investigation, Clinton should be denied the classified briefings normally given the major presidential nominees.

Bill Savarino, a lawyer specializing in security clearances, says, “I’ve never seen anything quite like this. You’ve got a situation here where the woman who would be in charge of setting national security policy as president has been deemed by the FBI unsuitable to safeguard and handle classified information.” He adds that if any of Clinton’s former top aides involved in the controversy were to ask him for help seeking a future security clearance, “I’d tell them that you’ve got a fight on your hands.'”

Sean M. Bigley, another lawyer specializing in security clearances, says his law firm has routinely defended clients who have lost their security clearances because of violations that were “much less egregious” than those described by Comey. “The folks who were involved with this, even on a peripheral basis, at least are going to be facing administrative action, or should be, based on the historical cases we’ve dealt with.” He says the threshold for administrative punishment is much lower than for criminal prosecution. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)

July 6, 2016: The Justice Department won’t pursue an indictment against Clinton, ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

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Loretta Lynch holds a press conference on June 29, 2016 to explain her private meeting with Bill Clinton at the Arizona airport. (Credit: ABC News)

One day after FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not give the Justice Department a recommendation to indict Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department agrees with Comey and will not pursue the indictment. Comey did not publicly discuss Clinton’s former aides, but Lynch says there will not be any indictments of her aides either. She also announces that this closes the investigation into Clinton’s email practices during her tenure as secretary of state.

Lynch says, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”

On July 1, 2016, Lynch said she would accept whatever recommendations Comey and her top prosecutors would give after it was discovered she’d had a meeting with Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, several days earlier.

Lynch’s announcement comes one day before Comey is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee, in order to explain his decision to not recommend any indictments.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus criticizes Lynch’s decision, saying, “By so blatantly putting its political interests ahead of the rule of law, the Obama administration is only further eroding the public’s faith in a government they no longer believe is on their side.” (Politico, 7/6/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director answers questions before a Congressional committee, further criticizing Clinton but also defending his decision not to indict her.

James Comey testifies to the House Oversight Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News)

James Comey is questioned before Congress on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News)

On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey gave a fifteen-minute public speech, in which he criticized Clinton’s handling of classified information but announced he would not recommend that she be indicted for any crime. He did not take any questions from reporters afterwards. But only two days later, he appears at a Congressional hearing to further explain and defend his comments.

Comey was invited by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), who is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to speak in front of the committee. Comey takes questions for four and a half hours.

Not surprisingly, Republicans use the hearing to look for more evidence to attack Clinton with, while Democrats attempt to defend Clinton’s behavior.

The New York Times notes that Comey defended himself “against an onslaught of Republican criticism for ending the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but he also provided new details that could prove damaging to her just weeks before she is to be named the Democrats’ presidential nominee.”

He “acknowledged under questioning that a number of key assertions that Mrs. Clinton made for months in defending her email system were contradicted by the FBI’s investigation.” However, he also defends his decision not to seek any indictment. (The New York Times, 7/7/2016)

Comey repeats some of the main points he made in his July 5, 2016 speech: “I think she was extremely careless. I think she was negligent — that I could establish. What we can’t establish is that she acted with the necessary criminal intent.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director James Comey refuses to say whether the Clinton Foundation is being investigated.

160707ClintonFoundationMichaelLocosanoGetty

Bill and Hillary Clinton attend an open plenary session for the Clinton Global Initiative on September 22, 2014. (Credit: John Moore / Getty Images)

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks Comey: “Did you look at the Clinton Foundation?”

Comey replies, “I’m not going to comment on the existence or nonexistence of any other investigations.”

Chaffetz then asks, “Was the Clinton Foundation tied into this investigation?”

Comey responds, “Yeah, I’m not going to answer that.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

It has previously been reported by Fox News in January 2016 that the Clinton Foundation is being investigated by the FBI, but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. An unnamed “FBI source” also told the Daily Mail in April 2016 that the FBI is conducting an investigation of the Clinton Foundation separate from its Clinton email investigation. (The Daily Mail, 7/7/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post will report that there actually is an FBI investigation and it has been in existence since at least 2015, but it has been hobbled by a lack of support from the Justice Department.

July 7, 2016: Comey says he didn’t recommend Clinton be charged because he couldn’t prove intent, despite the gross negligence law.

In Congressional testimony, FBI Director James Comey essentially argues that Clinton was guilty of gross negligence, which doesn’t require proof of intent, but he was only willing to indict her on intent-related charges, and there wasn’t enough evidence for that. He says: “Certainly, she should have known not to send classified information. As I said, that’s the definition of negligent. I think she was extremely careless. I think she was negligent. That, I could establish. What we can’t establish is that she acted with the necessary criminal intent.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

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Representative William Hurd (Credit: Alchetron)

Representative William Hurd (R) asks, “What does it take for someone to misuse classified information and get in trouble for it?”

Comey answers, “It takes mishandling it and criminal intent.” He admits that Clinton mishandled the information by having it on a private server, but he doesn’t see evidence of criminal intent. (CNN, 7/7/2016)

He further comments, “There’s not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that she knew she was receiving classified information or that she intended to retain it on her server. There’s evidence of that, but when I said there’s not clear evidence of intent, that’s what I meant. I could not, even if the Department of Justice would bring that case, I could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt those two elements.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

At another point in the hearing, he argues, “The question of whether [what she did] amounts to gross negligence frankly is really not at the center of this because when I look at the history of the prosecutions and see, it’s been one case brought on a gross negligence theory.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

The law criminalizing gross negligence in national security lapses was enacted in 1917. Comey says, “I know from 30 years there’s no way anybody at the Department of Justice is bringing a case against John Doe or Hillary Clinton for the second time in 100 years based on those facts.”

160707JamesJSmithCNN

James Smith (Credit: CNN)

The FBI later confirms to Politico that James Smith is the one case Comey is referring to. Smith, a longtime FBI agent, was arrested in 2003 and charged with gross negligence. However, he later pleaded guilty in return for having the charges reduced to one count of making false statements. (Politico, 7/7/2016)

But Comey’s claim that gross negligence has only been used once in recent decades is true only if one looks at cases brought by the Justice Department. Cases have also been brought in the military justice system.

Additionally, Politico points out, “Comey’s universe was also limited to cases actually brought, as opposed to threatened. The gross negligence charge is often on the table when prosecutors persuade defendants to plead guilty to the lesser misdemeanor offense of mishandling classified information.” (Politico, 7/7/2016)

Later in the hearing, Representative Blake Farenthold (R) says, “So Congress when they enacted that statute said ‘gross negligence.’ That doesn’t say ‘intent.’ So what are we going to have to enact to get you guys to prosecute something based on negligence or gross negligence? Are we going to have to add, ‘and oh by the way, we don’t mean — we really do mean you don’t have to have intent there?'”

Comey replies, “That’s a conversation for you all to have with the Department of Justice. But it would have to be something more than the statute enacted in 1917. Because for 99 years, they’ve been very worried about its constitutionality.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

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Representative Tim Walberg (Credit: Twitter)

Representative Tim Walberg (R) asks him, “Do you believe that the — that since the Department of Justice hasn’t used the statute Congress passed, it’s invalid?”

Comey responds, “No. I think they are worried that it is invalid, that it will be challenged on Constitutional grounds, which is why they’ve used it extraordinarily sparingly in the decades.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

During the hearing, it is pointed out several times that felony crime based on negligence and not intent are common at both the state and federal level, for intance manslaughter instead of murder, and their consitutionality has never been successfully challenged. At one point, Comey admits other negligence cases have been sustained in the federal system: “They’re mostly, as you talked about earlier, in the environmental and Food and Drug Administration [FDA] area.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

But he is adamant about not indicting any cases without being able to prove intent. At one point, he even suggests he is philosophically opposed to any laws based on negligence when he mentions, “When I was in the private sector, I did a lot of work with the Chamber of Commerce to stop the criminalization of negligence in the United States.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director James Comey says Clinton gave access to between three and nine people without the proper security clearance, but doesn’t see that as a prosecutable offense.

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks Comey, “So there are hundreds of classified documents on [Clinton’s private] servers, how many people without a security clearance had access to that server?”

Comey replies, “I don’t know the exact number as I sit here, it’s probably more than two, less than ten.” He also says, “Yes, there’s no doubt that uncleared people had access to the server because even after [Bryan] Pagliano there were others who maintained the server who were private sector folks.” [This is a likely reference to Justin Cooper and possibly others, such as Oscar Flores, Jon Davidson, and Doug Band.]

Additionally, he reveals that Clinton’s three lawyers who sorted her emails and deleted over 31,000 of them — David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson — did not have the “security clearances needed.”

He is asked by Chaffetz, “Does that concern you?”

Comey replies, “Oh yes, sure.”

Chaffetz asks, “Is there any consequence to an attorney rifling through Secretary Clinton’s, Hillary Clinton’s, e-mails without a security clearance?”

Comey responds, “Well, not necessarily criminal consequences, but there’s a great deal of concern about an uncleared person not subject to the requirements we talked [about] potentially having access [to classified information].”

Chaffetz then asks, “What’s the consequence? They don’t work for the government, we can’t fire them, so is there no criminal prosecution of those attorneys. Should they lose their bar license? What’s the consequence to this?”

Comey replies that he doesn’t have proof “they acted with criminal intent or active with some mal-intent…”

Chaffetz complains, “So there’s no intent? It doesn’t matter if these people have security clearances?” He suggests they and Clinton should be prosecuted for this violation.

160707ServerMontage

Eight people and two businesses were given unauthorized access to Clinton’s private server where top secret information was held. From top left to right they are David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, Platte River Networks, Heather Samuelson and Bryan Pagliano. From bottom left to right they are Douglas Band, Jon Davidson, Datto, Inc., Justin Cooper and Oscar Flores. (Credits have been given to each photo, in the timeline.)

Then he adds, “I asked you at the very beginning, does Hillary Clinton, is there a reasonable expectation that Hillary Clinton would send and receive if not day — hourly if not daily, classified information. That’s reasonable to think that the secretary of state would get classified information every moment. She’s not the head of Fish and Wildlife, so the idea that she would turn over her emails, her system, her server to, what it sounds like, up to ten people without security clearances and there’s no consequence. So why not do it again?”

After more back and forth, he asks, How can [it be] there’s no intent there? Does she not understand that these people don’t have security clearances?”

Comey replies, “Surely she understands at least some of them don’t have security clearances.”

Chaffetz then says, “So she understands they don’t have security clearances and it’s reasonable to think she’s going to be [emailing] classified information. Is that not intent to provide a non-cleared person access to classified information?”

Comey says, “I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume… that someone who is maintaining your server is reading your emails. In fact, I don’t think that’s the case here. There’s a separate thing, which is when she is engaging counsel to comply with the State Department’s request, are her lawyers then exposed [to] information that may be on there that’s classified, so…”

Comey goes on to suggest that there’s no proof that any of her three lawyers read any of Clinton’s classified emails while sorting them. “I don’t know whether they read them at the time.” Then, although he admits that Clinton gave non-cleared people access to classified information, he again argues that proving intent is necessary, and concludes, “I don’t see the evidence there to make a case that she was acting with criminal intent in her engagement with her lawyers.”

Chaffetz comments, “I read criminal intent as the idea that you allow somebody without a security clearance access to classified information. Everybody knows that, Director, everybody knows that.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director James Comey says Clinton’s private server was less secure than the State Department’s computer network or a commercial email provider.

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Comey testifies to the House Benghazi Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Jack Gruber / USA Today)

In a Congressional hearing, Comey says, “The challenge of security is not binary, it’s just degrees of security. [Clinton’s private server] was less secure than one at the State Department, or as I said, even one at a private commercial provider like a Gmail.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

Representative Rod Blum (R) asks, “Director Comey, are you implying in [your comments] that the private email servers of Secretary Clinton’s were perhaps less secure than a Gmail account that is used for free by a billion people around this planet?”

Comey replies, “Yes. And I’m not looking to pick on Gmail. Their security is actually pretty good; the weakness is individual users. But, yes, Gmail has full-time security staff and thinks about patching, and logging, and protecting their systems in a way that was not the case here.”

Blum also comments, “I know some security experts in the industry. I check with them. The going rate to hack into somebody’s Gmail account, $129. For corporate emails, they can be hacked for $500 or less. If you want to hack into an IP address, it’s around $100. I’m sure the FBI can probably do it cheaper. This is the going rate.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: WikiLeaks claims the FBI did not ask them for copies of the Clinton documents they (WikiLeaks) are preparing to release.

WikiLeaks posts a tweet that states: “The FBI did not ask us for copies of our upcoming Hillary Clinton leaks before concluding its investigation. Credible detective work! Not.” (WikiLeaks, 7/7/2016)

On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange said in a public interview that WikiLeaks is preparing to publish leaks relating to Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation. (The Guardian, 6/12/2016(ITV, 6/12/2016)

Also on July 7, 2016, WikiLeaks posts another tweet, suggesting that a release of Clinton documents will be coming soon: “Have more than 1,000,000 followers? Want early access to our pending Hillary Clinton publications? DM @WikiLeaks” (WikiLeaks, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director Comey says Clinton’s lawyers didn’t read every email before deleting some of them.

At a Congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey is asked by Representative Trey Gowdy (R), “Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?”

Comey simply replies, “No.”

(Clinton’s lawyers involved in sorting her emails are David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson.) In Congressional testimony under oath in October 2015, Clinton claimed that her lawyers did read every email.

Comey also says he doesn’t believe Clinton knew her legal team deleted thousands of work-related emails. And he says, “I don’t think there was any specific instruction or conversation between the secretary and her lawyers” in which Clinton approved that some work-related emails be deleted. He also believes that Clinton didn’t “know that her lawyers cleaned devices in such a way to preclude forensic recovery,” a matter about which the FBI asked Clinton  in her FBI interview. (Politico, 7/7/2016) (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director Comey says three of Clinton’s emails were clearly marked as classified when they were sent.

At a Congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey is asked by Representative Trey Gowdy (R), “Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails, either sent or received. Was that true?”

Comey replies, “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents.” Later in the day, the State Department says that two of those emails were incorrectly marked as classified when they were sent. Both of those emails, sent on April 8, 2012 and August 2, 2012, were released as part of the over 30,000 emails Clinton made public. It is unknown which email Comey is referring to in the third instance. It could be the part marked classified is redacted, or perhaps the email has not yet been released. (Politico, 7/7/2016) (CNN, 7/7/2016)

A September 2016 FBI report will give more information on these emails, including mentioning that the third email is still classified at the “confidential” level.

July 7, 2016: FBI Director Comey says it is unclear if any of Clinton’s emails were deleted by Clinton or anyone else.

At a Congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey is asked by Representative Trey Gowdy (R), “Secretary Clinton said neither she nor anyone else deleted work-related emails from her personal account. Was that true?”

Comey answers, “That’s a harder one to answer. We found traces of work-related emails in — on devices or in slack space. Whether they were deleted or whether when the server was changed out, something happened to them. There’s no doubt that the work-related emails were removed electronically from the email system.” (Politico, 7/7/2016) (CNN, 7/7/2016)

However, in September 2016, the FBI Clinton investigation’s final report will be released, based entirely on information learned by the FBI prior to Comey’s testimony. That makes clear that in late March 2015, someone used a computer program called BleachBit to delete all of Clinton’s emails off her server and then wipe them to prevent their later recovery. It is unknown why Comey fails to mention this.

July 7, 2016: The State Department resumes its Clinton email investigation.

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John Kirby (Credit: CCTV-America)

In January 2016, it was reported that the State Department had started its own investigation into Clinton’s email practices while Clinton was secretary of state. (This is separate from the State Department inspector general’s investigation, which concluded in late May 2016). However, this investigation was put on hold in March 2016 in deference to the FBI’s investigation. Now that the FBI finished its investigation on July 5, 2016, the State Department is resuming its own investigation.

Department spokesperson John Kirby announces the resumption, but he doesn’t reveal many details about it. He also sets no deadline for when it will be completed.

It is believed the investigation will consider administrative sanctions against Clinton and her aides. Although most of them are out of government, they could face some problematic penalties, such as the loss of security clearances, which could prevent future government employment. The investigation is likely looking into the past behavior of aides such as Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan, as well as Clinton herself. (The Associated Press, 7/7/2016)

The BBC comments that this means “Hillary Clinton – and some of her most trusted senior advisors – will twist in the wind a while longer. The State Department’s renewed inquiry into possible mishandling of classified information in emails is not nearly as serious as the recently closed FBI criminal investigation, but it keeps the email server story alive for an indeterminate period of time.”

Clinton cannot lose her security clearance if she’s elected president in November 2016, but she could be prevented from including some of her most trusted aides into positions in her administration if they lose their security clearances. The State Department’s investigation also is likely to help keep the controversy alive at least through Election Day. (BBC, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: The FBI did not record Clinton’s interview and did not make her testify under oath.

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Secret Service agents at the Washington home of Hillary Clinton on Saturday July 2, 2016. (Credit: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Speaking before a Congressional committee, FBI Director James Comey reveals that when Clinton was interviewed by FBI and Justice Department officials for over three hours on July 2, 2016, the interview was not recorded and Clinton wasn’t asked to swear an oath to tell the truth. However, Comey notes that if Clinton lied in the interview she could still be charged, because it is always a crime to lie to the FBI.

Comey also explains that it is FBI policy not to record interviews. An FBI memo from 2006 states, “Under the current policy, agents may not electronically record confessions or interviews, openly or surreptitiously,” except in rare circumstances. Civil libertarians and open government advocates have been against this policy for years.

However, the FBI did complete an FD-302, which is a federal form summarizing the interview. Republicans in the hearing immediately request that a copy of the form be given to the House oversight committee. (The Hill, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director Comey says people other than Blumenthal who regularly communicated with Clinton were successfully hacked.

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Blake Farenthold (R) points out that it has long been known that the hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and gained access to hundreds of her emails. Then he asks FBI Director James Comey, “During your investigation, were there other people in the State Department or that regularly communicated with Secretary Clinton that you can confirm were successfully hacked?”

Comey replies, “Yes.”

Farenthold confirms, “And were these folks that regularly communicated with the secretary?”

Comey again replies, “Yes.” However he doesn’t give any more details, such as how many such cases there were, or who they were. (Note that this is the only time Blumenthal is mentioned in Comey’s hearing.) (CNN, 7/7/2016)

A September 2016 FBI report will mention an incident in early January 2013, when an unnamed member of Bill Clinton’s staff has her email account on Clinton’s private server broken into by a hacker.

July 7, 2016: Pagliano won’t be indicted; it isn’t clear why the FBI gave him an immunity deal.

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks FBI Director James Comey if Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano had the “requisite security clearance” to look at Clinton’s classified emails on her private server, which he was managing.

Comey replies, “As I sit here, I can’t remember. He was not a participant on the classified email exchanges though.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

Later in the hearing, Representative Buddy Carter (R) asks Comey about Pagliano, “Is anything going to be done to him? Any prosecution, or any discipline?”

Comey answers, “I don’t know about discipline, but there’s not going to be any prosecution of him.”

Chaffetz then asks, “My understanding, Director, is that you offered him immunity. Why did you offer him immunity and what did you get for it?”

Comey replies, “I’m not sure what I can talk about in open setting about that. … I want to be careful. I’m doing this 24 hours after the investigation closed. I want to be thoughtful, because we’re — we’re as you know, big about the law, that I’m following the law about what I disclose about that. So I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I don’t want to answer that off the cuff.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: Republicans ask the FBI to launch another investigation related to Clinton’s emails, questioning statements she made under oath.

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Comey (left) and Chaffetz (right) shake hands while Elijah Cummings looks on at the House Benghazi Committee hearing on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

In a Congressional hearing to clarify his public speech ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation given on July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey is asked questions related to testimony Clinton gave under oath to the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. Comey’s answers directly contradict what Clinton said then, for instance Clinton’s assertion that there was “nothing marked classified on my e-mails either sent or received.” He also contradicts her claims that there was only one private email server while she was secretary of state, and that her lawyers read each of her over 60,000 emails while sorting them.

As a result, Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight Committee, asks, “Did the FBI investigate her statements under oath on this topic?”

Comey replies, “Not to my knowledge. I don’t think there’s been a referral from Congress.”

Chaffetz then asks, “Do you need a referral from Congress to investigate her statements under oath?”

“Sure do,” Comey responds.

Chaffetz says, “You’ll have one. You’ll have one in the next few hours.”

The Washington Post later confirms that, by the end of the day, Chaffetz does formally request the FBI to investigate whether Clinton misled Congress.

The Post also notes, “While the just-concluded FBI investigation was requested by the intelligence community’s inspector general, a new probe of Clinton would be a product of Congress — a distinction that carries obvious partisan implications.” However, “That is a risk Republicans are ready to take.” (The Washington Post, 7/7/2016)

Chaffetz’s request is sent to Channing Phillips, the US attorney for the District of Columbia.  (Salon, 9/6/2016)

July 8, 2016: Judicial Watch asks to depose Clinton and two others in a civil suit.

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Judicial Watch files a motion to depose Clinton as part a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit relating to Clinton’s emails. US District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered six of Clinton’s former aides to be deposed, and left open the possibility that Clinton could be deposed later, depending on the answers given by the aides.  All six finished their depositions by the end of June 2016.

Judicial Watch argues it has “attempted to obtain as much evidence as possible from other State Department officials, but Secretary Clinton is an indispensable witness and significant questions remain, including why records management officials apparently had no knowledge of [her email] system when so many other officials used the system to communicate with her. Consequently, Secretary Clinton’s deposition is necessary.”

Additionally, Judicial Watch is asking to depose two other former Clinton aides who had knowledge of Clinton’s private server, John Bentel and Clarence Finney. They also want to depose Clinton in a similar lawsuit presided by Judge Royce Lamberth.

Sullivan announces that the motion will be argued on July 18, 2016. (LawNewz, 7/8/2016)

July 12, 2016: Some FBI agents are disappointed over FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend Clinton’s indictment.

Many agents are said to express “disappointment.” This according to a New York Post article, citing “sources close to the matter.”

One unnamed source says, “FBI agents believe there was an inside deal put in place after the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton tarmac meeting” on June 27, 2016. The article attributes quotes to both active and retired FBI agents critical of Comey, but it is not clear what this person’s job position is.

Another unnamed source, this one from the Justice Department, is “furious” with Comey, saying he’s “managed to piss off right and left.” (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)

All FBI agents taking part in the Clinton investigation are unable to comment because they have signed a non-disclosure agreements and are subject to lie detector tests to make sure they obey.

July 21, 2016: The FBI begins sending thousands of recovered Clinton emails to the State Department.

According to Justice Department lawyers in a new court filing, on July 21, 2016, “the FBI began transferring the retrieved materials to the State Department, and will continue to transfer the retrieved materials to the State Department on a rolling basis.”

In late 2014, Clinton and her lawyers kept about 30,000 emails they deemed work related and deleted another 32,000 they deemed personal. The exact number of deleted emails that the FBI managed to recover or find from other sources has not been specified.

Some emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin were also found, since one of her email accounts was stored on the same clintonemail.com private server as Clinton’s emails, but the number of recovered Abedin emails is unknown.

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Photo captured from video of Jason Leopold’s immediate response to the results of his Clinton Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. (Credit: Vice News)

The lawyers say they can’t estimate how long the transfer process will take. Once the State Department has the emails, those judged by the department to be work related will be made responsive to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Those deemed genuinely personal may never be made public. (Politico, 7/22/2016)

Vice News reporter Jason Leopold has an existing FOIA lawsuit demanding the release of all of Clinton’s work-related emails. (The Wall Street Journal, 7/6/2016) (Jason Leopold, Video 7/23/16)

July 22, 2016: More details of Clinton’s twenty-two “top secret” emails are revealed; nine were written by Clinton and most of the rest were written by her aide Jake Sullivan.

As part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold, the State Department reveals more information about seven chains of 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. (Curiously, FBI Director James Comey mentioned on July 5, 2016 that there actually were eight “top secret” email chains, but the eighth chain is not mentioned by the department.)

The contents of the emails remain totally classified, but previous media reports indicate that most of them discussed approval for covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, and some of them may have identified CIA operatives working undercover.

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A sample of the Vaughn Index form submitted by the State Department, in response to the Vice News Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. (Credit: public domain)

For the first time, the department reveals which years the emails were sent and who sent and received them. All the emails were from 2011 or 2012 – the State Department began to have a say in approving CIA drone strikes in 2011. Nine of the emails were written by Clinton, and the other thirteen were written by her aide Jake Sullivan. Two were also cc’d by Sullivan to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and/or Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

The State Department disclosure comes in the form of a “Vaughn Index,” which is a document used by government departments in FOIA lawsuits to justify the withholding of information under various FOIA exemptions. Vaughn Indexes contain at least some information about the withheld text, to justify keeping it redacted, but this one does not. Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, says that according to government regulations, “State’s document does not fulfill the requirements for a Vaughn index.” (Vice News, 7/22/2016) (The Hill, 7/22/2016)

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 DNC emails as the first of a series of Clinton-related leaks.

WikiLeaks publicly releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 email attachments recently hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The emails are from seven DNC officials: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10,770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3,797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3,095 emails), Finance Director Zachary Allen (1,611 emails), Finance Director of Data and Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1,472 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails are from January 2015 until May 25, 2016.

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The seven DNC officials are left to right Luis Miranda (Credit: public domain), Jordan Kaplan (Credit: Facebook), Scott Comer (Credit: Linked In), Zachary Allen (Credit: Twitter), Daniel Parrish (Credit: Linked In), Andrew Wright (Credit: Linked In), Robert (Erik) Stowe (Credit: Linked In)

In announcing the release, WikiLeaks mentions this is “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series.” (WikiLeaks, 7/22/2016)

Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks, mentioned in a June 2016 interview that other coming releases will relate to the Clinton Foundation and to Clinton’s emails (although it’s not clear how many there are or where and when they are from). It also was reported in June 2016 that the DNC computer network had been recently hacked, along with other political entities, such as the Clinton campaign. It also was suspected that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. However, a previously unknown hacker named Guccifer 2.0 emerged and claimed to be behind the hack, and also claimed to have no ties to Russia. He furthermore claimed to have given thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has a policy of never revealing the sources of their leaked material, and has maintained that policy for this release.

August 15, 2016: Two Republican Congresspeople specifically point out the comments they believe make Clinton guilty of perjury.

In early July 2016, Republicans formally asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether Clinton committed perjury with some of her comments while speaking before Congress in October 2015.

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Representative Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Twitter)

On August 15, 2016, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R), chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the Oversight Committee, write a letter to Channing Phillips, the US attorney for the District of Columbia. The letter points out four comments Clinton made in her Congressional testimony that they believe contradicts what the FBI learned during their Clinton email investigation.

They write: “The four pieces of sworn testimony by Secretary Clinton described herein are incompatible with the FBI’s findings. We hope this information is helpful to your office’s consideration of our referral.”

  • In her testimony, Clinton claimed that none of the material she sent or received via her personal email account was marked as classified. But the FBI later determined that at least three emails contained classified markings, although they were apparently done in error.
  • Clinton claimed her lawyers went through each of her emails individually before deciding to delete them or not. However, the FBI has since claimed this is not so.
  • She said all of her work-related emails were given back to the State Department in December 2014, but thousands of other work-related emails have since been found.
  • She claimed she only used one server while secretary of state, but the FBI says the server was replaced more than once.

Earlier in the month, the Justice Department told Goodlatte and Chaffetz that it is reviewing information “and will take appropriate action as necessary.”

The Hill comments that the “letter is a sign that Republicans are committed to pressuring the Justice Department to act against Clinton, even after it notably declined to prosecute her for mishandling classified information,” and that Republicans “also appear to be making a public case for an indictment, perhaps building off widespread unease with the decision not to prosecute…” (The Hill, 8/16/2016)

August 16, 2016: The FBI gives Congress some classified documents from its Clinton email investigation.

The documents include the FBI’s summary of the interview of Clinton on July 1, 2016, known as a 302.

The State Department wanted to review the 302 interview summaries first, but the FBI ignored that request. On July 7, 2016, FBI Director James Comey said when it came to documents relating to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, he was committed to delivering to Congress “everything I can possibly give you under the law and to doing it as quickly as possible.”

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Representative Adam Schiff (Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty Images)

Representative Adam Schiff (D) criticizes the move. “With the exception of the classified emails that had been found on the private server, I can see little legitimate purpose to which Congress will put these materials. Instead, as the now-discredited Benghazi Committee demonstrated, their contents will simply be leaked for political purposes. This will neither serve the interests of justice nor aid Congress in its responsibilities and will merely set a precedent for the FBI to turn over closed case files whenever one party in Congress does not like a prosecutorial decision. This has been done in the name of transparency, but as this precedent chills the cooperation of other witnesses in the future, I suspect the Department of Justice will later come to refer to it by a different name — mistake.”

The documents can be seen by members of Congress, but they are not allowed to publicly reveal any of it. An FBI spokesperson says, “The material contains classified and other sensitive information and is being provided with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed without FBI concurrence.”

However, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the judiciary committee, says, “On initial review, it seems that much of the material given to the Senate today, other than copies of the large number of emails on Secretary Clinton’s server containing classified information, is marked ‘unclassified/for official use.’ The FBI should make as much of the material available as possible.”

Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon also wants to see the material publicly release, saying, “This is an extraordinarily rare step that was sought solely by Republicans for the purposes of further second-guessing the career professionals at the FBI. We believe that if these materials are going to be shared outside the Justice Department, they should be released widely so that the public can see them for themselves, rather than allow Republicans to mischaracterize them through selective, partisan leaks.” (Politico, 8/16/2016)

August 18, 2016: Colin Powell allegedly recommended to Clinton that she should use a private email for non-classified communications.

The New York Times reports that Clinton mentioned this when she was interviewed by the FBI in July 2016. This account was included in the FBI’s notes about Clinton’s interview which was given to Congress on August 16, 2016. The content of notes are meant to be classified, but apparently someone in Congress leaked this account to the media.

In addition, the account is mentioned in an upcoming book about Bill Clinton written by journalist Joe Conason, who the Times calls “a longtime defender of the Clintons.”

According to Conason, the conversation took place in early 2009, several months after Clinton became secretary of state, and after she had already set up a private email server and was using a private email account for all her email communications. Clinton was at a dinner party hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which was also attended by former secretaries of state Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice.

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Former Secretaries of State (from left to right), Henry Kissinger James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry attend a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Conason writes, “Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat [Clinton]. Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, he thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.”

Additionally, Powell repeated the same advice in an email sent to Clinton around the same time, and after Clinton had already decided to use private email. Powell tells the Times that he has no recollection of the dinner conversation, but he does confirm sending an email giving that advice.

However, the Times notes that the situations between when Powell was secretary of state and when Clinton was had significant differences. When Powell took over the State Department, it did not have a computer system for sending unclassified emails. But such a system was set up by the time Clinton took over in 2009. Additionally, the department rules changed, prohibiting the use of a private email account as anyone’s main mode of email communication. Furthermore, Powell used the AOL (AmericaOnline) email service, which kept back-up copies of all emails, while Clinton used her own private server, which meant nobody kept backups except her. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016) (NBC News, 8/19/2016)

August 19, 2016: A judge rules that Clinton can respond to a deposition with written answers instead of being questioned in person.

Judge Emmet Sullivan, District Court for the District of Columbia, (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

Judge Emmet Sullivan, District Court for the District of Columbia, (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

Judicial Watch has been seeking to have Clinton deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving her emails. However, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rules: “Judicial Watch’s argument that a deposition is preferable in this case because of the ability to ask follow-up questions is not persuasive. Given the extensive public record related to the clintonemail.com system, a record which Judicial Watch has acknowledged

Judicial Watch will be able to anticipate many follow-up questions. For those follow-up questions that Judicial Watch is unable to anticipate, it can move this Court for permission to serve additional interrogatories.”

Sullivan notes that due to legal precedents applicable to current and former Cabinet officials, he should only require Clinton to appear at a deposition if “exceptional circumstances” justify it.

Sullivan says he is still intent on finding out why Clinton’s private server was set up and whether there were other reasons beyond Clinton’s public claim of “convenience.” He also says it is important that she at least answer questions in writing about this because depositions of Clinton’s staff had shown that “her closest aides at the State Department do not have personal knowledge of her purpose in using the [server].”

Politico notes, “Technically, it is still possible one of several other judges considering similar cases could issue such an order [for Clinton to be deposed in person], but the clock may run out soon on efforts to force such an appearance in advance of the November [presidential] election.”

Judicial Watch also asked for the depositions of former State Department officials Clarence Finney and John Bentel.

Sullivan rejects the deposition of Finney, despite the fact that Finney’s job was to organize responses to FOIA requests. However, he does order the future deposition of Bentel. It has been reported that Bentel blocked other department employees from raising questions about Clinton’s use of her server. (Politico, 8/19/2016)

August 22, 2016: The State Department is ordered to review nearly 15,000 Clinton emails for public release, but it is unclear how many of these are previously unreleased work-related emails.

During the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, the FBI found some of Clinton’s over 31,000 deleted emails from when she was secretary of state. At the conclusion of the investigation in July 2016, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails,” but is it uncertain exactly how many of these emails were found, either work-related or personal. The FBI has given the State Department a CD containing the found emails, and the department has said it will publicly release all the work-related ones.

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US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / National Law Review)

In a court hearing presided by US District Judge James Boasberg on this day, it is revealed that the CD contains around 14,900 emails. Boasberg orders the State Department to review the emails for public release in response to various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. However, it is still unclear if any of these are duplicates of the 30,000 Clinton emails already publicly released. Furthermore, it is unknown how many of the found deleted emails are personal and how many are work-related (aside from Comey’s vague “several thousand” emails comment).

In addtion, the FBI has given the State Department seven other CDs: one contains classified documents related to Clinton, another contains emails returned by Clinton, and the other five contain materials from other people that was retrieved by the FBI.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner says, “We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State. State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”

Regarding the CD of Clinton emails, Toner says, “We still don’t have a full sense of how many of the 14,900 are new. Granted, that’s a healthy number there, so there’s likely to be quite a few.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus comments, “The process for reviewing these emails needs to be expedited, public disclosure should begin before early voting starts, and the emails in question should be released in full before Election Day.” (Politico, 8/22/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/22/2016)

On September 23, 2016, it will be revealed that 5,600 of the 14,900 recovered emails are deemed work-related.

August 25, 2016: It is alleged that Clinton’s lawyers used a computer program to make sure her deleted emails couldn’t be recovered.

Since late 2014, when Clinton and her lawyers deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state, it has been unclear if the emails were simply deleted or “wiped,” meaning deliberate steps were taken to make sure they couldn’t be recovered later.

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Trey Gowdy appears with Martha MacCallum on Fox News on August 25, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

In an interview, Representative Trey Gowdy (R) says that, “[Clinton] and her lawyers [Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, and Heather Samuelson] had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridemaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

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BleachBit Logo (Credit: public domain)

BleachBit is computer software whose website advertises that it can “prevent recovery” of files. Politico notes that if Gowdy is correct, this would be “further proof that Clinton had something to hide in deleting personal emails from the private email system she used during her tenure as secretary of state.” It is not explained how Gowdy might know this, but his comments come only a few days after the FBI gave raw materials about their Clinton email investigation to Congress. (Politico, 8/25/2016)

Gowdy’s claim contradicts what FBI Director James Comey said on July 5, 2016 when he announced that he would not recommend charging Clinton with any crime. At that time, Comey stated, “we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many email users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

Within hours of Gowdy’s comments, BleachBit updates their website to say: “Last year when Clinton was asked about wiping her email server, she joked, ‘Like with a cloth or something?’ It turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth, according to remarks by Gowdy.” The website also notes, “As of the time of writing BleachBit has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation. … The cleaning process [of our program] is not reversible.” (BleachBit, 8/25/2016)

On September 2, 2016, the FBI’s final report on their Clinton email investigation will be released, and it will be revealed that BleachBit was used on Clinton’s server in late March 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

August 29, 2016: Huma Abedin initiates a divorce after her husband is caught in a sex scandal; this will have an impact on Clinton’s email controversy.

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin at home with their son in 2013. (Credit: Elinor Carucci / NY Magazine)

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin at home with their son in 2013. (Credit: Elinor Carucci / NY Magazine)

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, announces that she is separating from her husband Anthony Weiner, and is pursuing a divorce from him. This will later have an important impact on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. Weiner was a Democratic Congressperson until 2011 when he resigned due to a sexting scandal – sending sexual texts to other women that were made public. Another sexting scandal involving him ended his 2013 campaign to be mayor of New York City. Abedin’s announcement comes one day after yet more new sexting by Weiner is made public, this time allegedly to a 15-year-old girl.  (The New York Times, 8/29/2016)

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will announce that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation will be at least partially reopened due to thousands of Abedin’s emails found on a computer used by both Weiner and Abedin that was seized by the FBI as part of their unrelated investigation into Weiner’s sexting with the underaged girl.