February 12, 2009: An email suggests Clinton gets a new cell phone, despite her later claims that she didn’t use one.

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Clinton talks on a flip phone in Washington, DC on November 14, 2006. (Credit: Karen Bleir / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

An email sent to or received by Clinton on this day has the subject heading: “Re: New cell.” It won’t be found in the over 30,000 Clinton emails given to the State Department in December 2014. Thus, the details are known because she will be asked about it in her July 2016 FBI interview.

According to a later FBI report, “Clinton stated she was familiar with the phone number ending in [redacted] referenced in the email. She believed the number was that of her BlackBerry because she did not recall using a flip phone during her time at State, only while in the Senate.”

However, in the FBI Clinton email investigation final report, evidence will be mentioned that Clinton actually had two phone numbers. One was for her BlackBerry, which she used just for emails, and one for her flip phone, which she used for phone calls. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 13, 2009: The NSA refuses to set up a secure BlackBerry for Clinton.

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Although the National Security Agency (NSA) has set up a secure, encrypted BlackBerry for President Obama, they are not interested in making one for Clinton.

On this day, Donald Reid, the State Department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, writes in an email, “The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure at State, and is very expensive.” He adds that “each time we asked the question ‘What was the solution for [President Obama]?’ we were politely told to shut up and color.”

On February 18, 2009, Reid had said in an email, “The issue here is one of personal comfort,” because Clinton and her top aides are “dedicated [BlackBerry] addicts.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 24, 2009: A security official warns that BlackBerry could be easily hacked on overseas trips.

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner, chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, gives a speech to government officials and urges them to consider what possible attacks could have occurred during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics. “Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport. And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.”

Clinton had just returned from a trip to China and other Asian countries.

Although top State Department officials are aware of Brenner’s warning, she takes her BlackBerry on her future overseas trips despite it still not being inspected and secured by department officials. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Late February 2009: State Department security officials worry about Clinton’s BlackBerry use.

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. "Mahogany Row" is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. “Mahogany Row” is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Few State Department officials appear to know that Clinton has a private email server in her house.

However, news about her frequent BlackBerry use soon spreads among the Department’s security officials. They are concerned about “Mahogany Row,” the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides.

A decade earlier, Russian spies placed a listening device in a chair on that floor. Since then, on multiple occasions, hackers had breached computers in the State Department and other federal agencies.

State Department security officials are particularly concerned that Clinton’s BlackBerry could be compromised, and they worry that she could be setting a “bad example” for others in the department. They craft a memo that discusses the risks, which will be sent out on March 6. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 2009—June 2011: An external hard drive backs up the data on Clinton’s private server, but it is unclear what happens to it or its replacement.

The Seagate Expansion External Hardrive (Credit: Seagate)

The Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive (Credit: Seagate)

When Clinton’s first server is upgraded with a new server in March 2009, a Seagate external hard drive is attached to the server to store back-up copies of all of its data.

Bryan Pagliano, who manages the server at the time, will later tell the FBI that daily changes are backed up onto the hard drive every day, and a complete back-up is made once a week. As space on the hard drive runs out, backups are deleted on a “first in, first out” basis.

This continues until June 2011. That month, Pagliano travels from Washington, DC, where he works in the State Department, and goes to where the server is, in Chappaqua, New York. Pagliano replaces the Seagate external hard drive with a Cisco Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, also to store backups of the server.

The Cisco FS 5500 and 5700 Series Integrated NAS. (Credit: Cisco)

The Cisco FS 5500 and 5700 Series Integrated NAS. (Credit: Cisco)

It is unclear what becomes of either back-up device or the data they contained. The FBI’s September 2016 final report on the Clinton email investigation will only mention: “The FBI was unable to forensically determine how frequently the NAS captured backups of the Pagliano Server.” But the report will also complain about the “FBI’s inability to recover all server equipment,” and there will be no mention of any data recovered from either back-up device. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Also in September 2016, Justin Cooper, who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about these hard drives at a Congressional hearing. He will say he only heard about them from reading the FBI final report. (He claims he handled customer service while Pagliano handled the technical aspects.)

He will also be asked if FBI agents ever came to the Clinton’s Chappaqua house to seize any equipment. Cooper worked as an aide to Bill Clinton in the house, but he will say he is unaware of the FBI ever coming to the house. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

March 2009: Clinton’s personal email server is replaced; she will use the new one for the rest of her term as secretary of state.

Justin Cooper, an aide to former President Bill Clinton, has been working with Bryan Pagliano, who worked as a computer technician on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, to build a new private server located in the Clintons’ Chappaqua, New York, house. Some time in March 2009, Pagliano and Cooper met at the Chappaqua house to physically install the server and related equipment in a server rack in the basement.

Once the new server is up and running, Pagliano migrates the email data from the old server to the new one. Pagliano will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will claim that after the migration, no email content should have remained on the old server. He will tell the FBI that he only transferred clintonemail.com email accounts for Clinton aide Huma Abedin and others (whose names will later be redacted), and he was unaware of and did not transfer an email account for Hillary Clinton.

However, Clinton emails using a clintonemail.com domain address start getting sent in January 2009, showing she must had had an account on the old server since that time. Cooper will also later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say he believed Clinton had a clintonemail.com email account on the old server and Abedin did not. The FBI will be unable to obtain the old server to analyze it, so the dispute has not been fully resolved.

130601DellPowerEdge2900public

The Dell Power Edge 2900 (Credit: public domain)

This new server will be used for the rest of Clinton’s term as secretary of state, then will be replaced in 2013. Later in March 2009, the old server is repurposed to serve as a personal computer for household staff at Clinton’s Chappaqua house. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

The Washington Post will later report, “The server was nothing remarkable, the kind of system often used by small businesses, according to people familiar with its configuration at the end of her tenure. It consisted of two off-the-shelf server computers. Both were equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. A firewall was used as protection against hackers.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

According to the FBI, the new server initially consists of the following equipment: “a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server miming Microsoft Exchange for email hosting and management, a Dell PowerEdge 1950 server miming BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for the management of BlackBerry devices, a Seagate external hard drive to store backups of the Dell PowerEdge 2900 server, a Dell switch, a Cisco firewall, and a power supply.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

In 2015, Hillary Clinton will say of her server, “It was sitting there in the basement. It was not any trouble at all.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/2015)

March 2009—May 31, 2013: Bryan Pagliano and Justin Cooper jointly manage Clinton’s private server.

160301PaglianoCooperMontage

Bryan Pagliano (left), Justin Cooper (right) (Credit: public domain)

In March 2009, Clinton’s private email server is replaced by a larger one built by her computer technician Pagliano. Cooper had been the only person with administrative access for the previous server, but now both him and Pagliano have administrative accounts on the new one.

Pagliano handles all software upgrades and general maintenance. He works at the State Department in Washington, DC, and there is only evidence of him going to Chappaqua, New York, to directy work on the server three times: in March 2009, to install the server; in June 2011, to upgrade the equipment; and in January 2012, to fix a hardware issue.

By contrast, in a later FBI interview, Cooper will describe his role as “the customer service face.” He can add users or reset passwords on the email server. He also works at the Chappaqua house as an aide to former President Bill Clinton, so it is much easier for him to physically interact with the server there.

Cooper and Pagliano both handle the selection and purchase of server-related items.

In a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton will state “she had no knowledge of the hardware, software, or security protocols used to construct and operate the servers. When she experienced technical issues with her email account she contacted Cooper for assistance in resolving those issues.”

The roles of Cooper and Pagliano will be phased out in mid-2013, with the Platte River Networks company winning a contact to manage Clinton’s server on May 31, 2013.

Around Spring 2009: Pagliano is warned that classified information could be sent to Clinton’s private server, but there is no sign he takes action or passes this warning on.

When Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano is interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will recall a conversation with a person whose name is redacted that takes place at the beginning of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. According to the FBI, this person “advised he would not be surprised if classified information was being transmitted to Clinton’s personal server.”

Pagliano joins the State Department in May 2009, and he also is the main person to manage problems with the server. But there is no mention of him taking any action about this warning or passing it on to anyone else. The unnamed person also gives Pagliano advice on how to improve the server security that goes unheeded as well. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Around Spring 2009: Clinton’s computer technician is advised to make a key improvement to the security of Clinton’s private server, but the improvement is never made.

When Bryan Pagliano, the manager of Clinton’s private server while she Clinton’s is secretary of state, will be interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will recall a conversation that takes place around the beginning of Clinton’s tenure. This person, whose name is later redacted, recommends that email transiting from a state.gov account to Clinton’s private server should be sent through a Transport Layer Security (TLS) “tunnel.” Most of Clinton’s email traffic is with State Department officials using state.gov accounts.

A diagram of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) (Credit: public domain)

A diagram described as Networking 101: Transport Layer Security (TLS) (Credit: public domain)

A September 2016 FBI report will explain: “TLS is a protocol that ensures privacy between communicating applications, such as web browsing, email, and instant messaging, with their users on the Internet. TLS ensures that no third-party eavesdrops on the two-way communication. TLS is the successor to SSL and is considered more secure.”

Pagliano is the main person to manage problems with the server, but he will tell the FBI that the transition to TLS never occurred. It is not clear why. The FBI will be unable to forensically determine if TLS was ever implemented on the server.

The same unnamed person who gives Pagliano this advice also tells him at the same time that he would not be surprised if classified information was being transmitted to Clinton’s personal server.  (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 6, 2009—March 15, 2009: Clinton says she “gets it” about BlackBerry security concerns, but she keeps on using her BlackBerry.

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

On March 6, 2009, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell emails an internal State Department memo with the subject line “Use of BlackBerrys in Mahogany Row.” (“Mahogany Row” is where the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides are.) The memo states, “Our review reaffirms our belief that the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of BlackBerrys in the Mahogany Row [redacted] considerably outweigh the convenience their use can add. … Any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails, and exploiting calendars.”

According to an email by another security official nine days later on March 15, Clinton tells Boswell that she read his memo and “gets it.” That email adds, “Her attention was drawn to the sentence that indicates (Diplomatic Security) have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia.”

However, Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry and private server without any apparent changes. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 29, 2009: For the first two months Clinton uses her private server for all her emails, it operates without the standard encryption generally used to protect Internet communication.

Clinton meets Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on February 21, 2009. (Credit: Greg Baker / Getty Images)

Clinton meets Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on February 21, 2009. (Credit: Greg Baker / Getty Images)

This is according to a 2015 independent analysis by Venafi Inc., a cybersecurity firm that specializes in the encryption process. Not until this day does the server receive a “digital certificate” that encrypts and protects communication over the Internet through encryption.

The Washington Post will later report, “It is unknown whether the system had some other way to encrypt the email traffic at the time. Without encryption—a process that scrambles communication for anyone without the correct key—email, attachments and passwords are transmitted in plain text.”

A Venafi official will later comment, “That means that anyone could have accessed it. Anyone.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Clinton began sending emails using the server by January 28, 2009, but will later claim she didn’t start using it until March 18, 2009—a two-month gap similar to the two-month gap the server apparently wasn’t properly protected. Apparently, she has not given investigators any of her emails from before March 18. (The New York Times, 9/25/2015)

A 2016 op-ed in the Washington Post will suggest that security concerns during Clinton’s February 2009 trip to Asia could have prompted the use of encryption on her server. (The Washington Post, 4/4/2016)

An FBI report released in September 2016 will confirm that encyption only began in March 2009. It states that “in March 2009, [Bill Clinton aide Justin] Cooper registered a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption certificate at [Bryan] Pagliano’s direction for added security when users accessed their email from various computers and devices.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

April 23, 2009: Clinton aide Huma Abedin sends Clinton a series of steps the State Department is taking to secure the US embassies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010. (Credit: public domain)

The US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010. (Credit: public domain)

Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, lists steps that include “increasing the number of hooches, and doubling up staff in lodging.” The email adds more details, for instance, “[W]e need to improve the security perimeter – acquiring property adjacent to our current facilities in Kabul, which is now difficult to secure.” In addition to mentioning information that could benefit attackers of the embassies, the email shows that Clinton was briefed on embassy security issues, despite her claim that she did not directly deal with such matters. (Politico, 10/30/2015)

May 2009: Bryan Pagliano is hired as a political employee in the State Department’s IT [Information Technology] division, while he continues to manage Clinton’s private server in her house.

Susan Swart (Credit: Government CIO Magazine)

Susan Swart (Credit: Government CIO Magazine)

The Washington Post will later report, “Officials in the IT division have told investigators they could not recall previously hiring a political appointee.” Pagliano had worked as the IT director for Clinton’s PAC [political action committee] and also for her presidential campaign, and was paid by the PAC until April 2009. He also provided computer services to the Clinton family. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Patrick Kennedy, the department’s under secretary for management, oversees the hiring of Pagliano. Pagliano’s new bosses Susan Swart, head of the department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management, and her deputy, Charlie Wisecarver exchange emails expressing confusion and surprise that Kennedy has given them a political employee to work in the IT division. (Reuters, 3/24/2016) His initial salary is $133,000 a year. As a Schedule C political hire, Pagliano is vetted by the State Department’s Office of White House Liaison, where Heather Samuelson holds a top position. Samuelson worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, as did Pagliano, and in 2014 she will be one of three Clinton aides who decide which of Clinton’s 60,000 emails will be deleted. (The Daily Caller, 3/3/2016)

May 2009—February 2013: Pagliano is paid by the Clintons to manage their private server, but details are murky.

According to a later account by Clinton’s legal counsel, Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano performs “technology services for the Clinton family for which he [is] compensated” by check or wire transfer in varying amounts at various times between 2009 and 2013. Most importantly, he manages her private email server as an outside job, including doing so during his hours for the State Department. However, exactly how much he gets paid is unknown. Other details such as who he directly reports to, who directly pays him, and how many hours a week he works on the task also remain unknown. It appears that Justin Cooper, an assistant to Bill Clinton who does not work in government, sometimes helps manage the server as well. But Cooper’s role is even more unclear. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 2009—February 2013: Clinton’s computer technician lies about his outside income running Clinton’s private server.

In May 2009, begins working for the State Department while continuing to be paid by Clinton for managing her private server. However, he does not list his outside income in the required personal financial disclosures he files each year. This continues until his full time department job ends in February 2013, the same month Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state ends. In early 2015, a State Department official will say that the department has “found no evidence that he ever informed the department that he had outside income.” (The Washington Post, 9/5/2015To lie on such a financial disclosure form is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. (US Legal Code, 2/24/2012)

May 2009—February 2013: Clinton’s computer technician secretly manages her server during government work time and without the knowledge of his supervisors.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: LinkedIn)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: LinkedIn)

During the time Bryan Pagliano works as a political employee in the State Department’s IT [information technology] division starting in May 2009, he continues to secretly manage Clinton’s private email server in her house. The Washington Post will later report, “Three of Pagliano’s supervisors… told investigators they had no idea that Clinton used the basement server or that Pagliano was moonlighting on it.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) However, Pagliano’s two direct supervisors (who apparently are Susan Swart and Charlie Wisecarver) will later tell department investigators that while they were aware Pagliano provided computer assistance to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, they didn’t know he was supporting her server during working hours. They will question how he could do so given that he was supposed to be working full-time for the department. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016An unnamed colleague in Pagliano’s division will later similarly say that Pagliano’s immediate supervisors didn’t know Clinton’s private server even existed until it was revealed in news reports in 2015. In March 2016, the Reuters will report that both Clinton and the State Department continue to decline “to say who, if anyone, in the government was aware of the email arrangement.” (Reuters, 3/24/2016)

October 2, 2009: New regulations require that all government emails must be preserved.

The US Code of federal regulations on handling electronic records is updated: “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

In 2015, Jason Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), will comment that the rules get stricter in 2013. But even prior to that, “the use of a private [email] account was to be rare and occasional, and not to be the norm.” Using a private account “without using an official account is inconsistent with the Federal Records Act.” He adds, “To solely use a personal e-mail for four years [as Clinton did] is something that is highly unusual.” (Bloomberg News, 3/3/2015)

October 3, 2009: Clinton arranges secure phone calls using her unsecured email.

US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (Credit: Asia Society)

US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (Credit: Asia Society)

Clinton writes an email to her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin telling her to set up a conference call that will use Clinton’s home phone over the weekend. The call will be between Clinton, two assistant secretaries of state, and a US ambassador. Clinton writes, “As soon as I’m off call now. Tell ops to set it up now.” (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)

The Washington Times will later report on this email, “The coordination of secure communications on an insecure break with protocol would give foreign intelligence agencies an opportunity to learn about a call early, then target and intercept the call, US officials told the Times.” Clinton will do this on other occasions, including setting up a call the next day with Karl Eikenberry, US ambassador to Afghanistan. (The Washington Times, 9/1/2015)

Around January 12, 2010: Clinton and her aides allegedly demonstrate lax communication security while in Hawaii.

Clinton speaks on her Blackberry in the lobby of a Honolulu hotel on January 13, 2010. (Credit: Mandel NGAN / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Clinton speaks on her Blackberry in the lobby of a Honolulu hotel on January 13, 2010. (Credit: Mandel NGAN / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Bill Johnson, the State Department’s political adviser to the special operations section of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), will later claim that he is present in Honolulu, Hawaii, while Clinton comes to visit. During her trip, news breaks of a large earthquake in Haiti, which takes place on January 12, 2010.

Clinton goes to a security communications facility in the basement of PACOM headquarters to help organize a humanitarian response to the earthquake. She wants to communicate with her top staff back at State Department headquarters in Washington, DC, but she and her aides are not allowed to bring their cell phones into PACOM headquarters because they are using unsecured, personal devices. They ask Johnson for an exception to the rules, but he refuses, citing alarms and lockdowns that would be automatically triggered if anyone brought an unauthorized signal-emitting unit into the building.

So instead, according to Johnson, “She had her aides go out, retrieve their phones, and call [State Department headquarters] from outside,” using open, unsecure lines. “It was really an eye-opener to watch them stand outside using nonsecure comms [communications] and then bring messages to the secretary so she could then conduct a secure [call] with the military” and the State Department. (Newsweek, 5/25/2016)

May 21, 2010—October 21, 2010: Computer records suggest Clinton’s private server could be located at the Clinton Foundation’s headquarters.

The result of an IP location look up of where Clinton's private server was in mid-2010 appears to indicate the middle of Manhattan, New York. (Credit: IP Finder / Google Maps)

The result of an IP location look up of where Clinton’s private server was in mid-2010 appears to indicate the middle of Manhattan, New York. (Credit: IP Finder / Google Maps)

According to publicly available computer records, the IP [Internet Protocol] address for the mail.presidentclinton.com server is 24.187.234.187 from at least 2009 to 2011. Records also show that mail.clintonemail.com server has the same exact IP address, 24.187.234.187, from at least May 21, 2010 to October 21, 2010. That means the two servers must have been in the same location for that overlapping time period.

Computer records can also indicate where the IP addresses are physically located, and that IP address at that time is somewhere in the middle of Manhattan, New York City. That makes sense for presidentclinton.com, since former President Bill Clinton’s offices are there, and the Clinton Foundation headquarters is also there. But that would suggest that Hillary Clinton’s clintonemail.com server used for all her secretary of state work is also based in Manhattan and not Chappaqua, New York, for at least part of 2010. (DNS History, 9/7/2015) (DNS History, 9/7/2015) (IP Tracker, 9/3/2015)

Around Mid-2010 and After: After contacting a Secret Service agent about frequent hacking attacks on Clinton’s server, the managers of the server apparently never contact anyone else from other government departments for help.

Justin Cooper (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Justin Cooper (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

According to a September 2016 FBI report, Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who is helping to manage Clinton’s private server, contacts a Secret Service agent at some point during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is not clear when this happens, but apparently it is not long after the server begins to be frequently targeted by brute force hacking attacks around the middle of 2010.

Cooper will be asked about this in a September 2016 Congressional hearing shortly after the FBI report is published. He will say, “when we first experienced some of the repeated failed login attempts, I reported them to the Secret Service. … There was an instance where we shared some logs with [them]. … The Secret Service looked at logs from the server and made some recommendations to [server manager Bryan] Pagliano about the possible origins of those failed logins and some techniques he might use to mitigate that problem.” (The Secret Service agent will give advice on improving the server’s security that will not be followed.)

However, when Cooper is asked by Representative Blake Farenthold (R), “Did you turn over the logs and notifications that you received to the FBI, the emails of brute force attacks?” Cooper will say the FBI was not contacted.

Representative Jody Hice (Credit: Twitter)

Representative Jody Hice (Credit: Twitter)

Additionally, when Representative Jody Hice (R) will ask if Cooper consulted with any other “department or agency in the government,” Cooper will say, “No. No consultations of that type.” He will also specifically mention the State Department wasn’t consulted. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

It’s possible that Pagliano contacted others, but the FBI will interview both Cooper and Pagliano in its investigation and then will mention only the contact with the Secret Service in its final report.

The number of hacking attacks steadily grows through the rest of Clinton’s time in office. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Around Mid-2010 to January 2013: “Brute force” hacking attempts on Clinton’s private server begin and steadily increase, but it is unknown if any are successful.

Blake Farenthold (Credit: Bill Clark / Congressional Quarterly Roll Call)

Blake Farenthold (Credit: Bill Clark / Congressional Quarterly)

Bryan Pagliano, the manager of Clinton’s private server while she is secretary of state, will be interviewed by the FBI in December 2015. According to an FBI report, he will claim that the server suffered no known security breaches. However, “he was aware there were many failed login attempts, which he referred to as brute force attacks. He added that the failed attempts increased over the life of the [server], and he set up the server’s logs to alert [Justin] Cooper when they occurred. Pagliano knew the attempts were potential attackers because the credentials attempting to log in did not match legitimate users on the system. Pagliano could not recall if a high volume of failed login attempts emanated from any specific country.”

The FBI report will explain, “A brute force attack is a trial-and-error method used to obtain information, such as a password… In a brute force attack, passwords may be attempted manually or automated software can be used to generate a large number of consecutive guesses as to the targeted information.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about brute force attacks in a September 2016 Congressional hearing. He will respond, “I can’t say with any specificity how many had happened. They happened with some limited frequency over the period of, I’d say the last two and a half years, while she was in office. But we had developed systems to tamper these down.”

Representative Blake Farenthold (R) will ask Cooper that if the brute force attacker managed to enter the correct user name and password, “you wouldn’t have been notified, would you? You would have thought it was Mrs. Clinton or some legitimate user actually getting in?”

After further questioning, Cooper will admit that he only looked at failed attempts and didn’t check for related successful log-ins. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

Around Mid-2010: A Secret Service agent advises Pagliano to take a step to improve the security of Clinton’s private server, but the step is not taken.

After Bryan Pagliano sets up Clinton’s new private server in January 2009, he sets up Internet Protocol (IP) filtering on the firewall, once a firewall is established in late March 2009. Pagliano will later tell the FBI that he tried to review the firewall log files once a month.

The US Secret Service Badge (Credit: public domain)

The US Secret Service Badge (Credit: public domain)

At some point, Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who is helping Pagliano manage the server, puts Pagliano in contact with a US Secret Service agent. The timing of this is not clear. However, in a September 2016 Congresssional hearing, Cooper will say it happened after Clinton’s server started to get frequent “brute force” hacking attacks, and that begins around the middle of 2010.

This agent recommends that Pagliano should also perform outbound filtering of email traffic. According to a September 2016 FBI report, “Pagliano further considered, but ultimately did not implement, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or two-factor authentication to better secure administrative access to the server system by him and Cooper.”

The FBI report will explain: “‘VPN’ is a private network that runs on top of a larger network to provide access to shared network resources, which may or may not include the physical hard drives of individual computers… VPN offers an additional layer of security by encrypting the data traveling to the private network before sending it over the Internet. Data is then decrypted when it reaches the private network. … ‘Two-factor authentication’ is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components…” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016) (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

July 24, 2010: Clinton may start accessing the Internet at her Washington home using an unsecure, typical Wi-Fi connection.

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Clinton and Philippe Reines have an email chain about Clinton’s new iPad. Reines is Clinton’s press secretary and a senior advisor. It is a Saturday and apparently Clinton is at her home in Washington, DC, and trying to get her new iPad to work. She cannot connect to the Internet with it, so she asks Reines, “I don’t know if I have wi-fi. How do I find out?” (Wi-Fi technology allows one to connect to the Internet using a wireless local area network.)

Reines responds, “Let me talk to Justin & Huma to check out the situation, and if there is wi-fi I’m happy to swing by and set it up.” “Justin” is a likely reference to Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who registered Clinton’s private server in her Chappaqua, New York, house, and “Huma” is a likely reference to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) 

It is not known what happens, but it appears Reines is prepared to enable Clinton to regularly use her iPad at her home using a typical Wi-Fi network, without any extra security measures. Clinton begins using her iPad for her emails the next day, while continuing to use her BlackBerry. (US Department of State, 8/31/2015)

July 25, 2010: Clinton invites a US diplomat to discuss communications with foreign ministers with her using her private email address.

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Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (top left) (Credit: European Press Agency), Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (top right) (Credit: Greek Reporter), Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos (lower left) (Credit: 525-gi gazet), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (lower right) (Credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Clinton writes an email to former senator George J. Mitchell (D), who is the US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace at the time. The subject heading is “Here’s my personal email,” and the entire message is “Pls [Please] use this for reply–HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton].” (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

Mitchell replies, “I talked with Frattini again and went over the point again. He said he understands and agrees.” The rest of his email is later redacted because it contains “foreign government information.” “Frattini” is a likely reference to Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Clinton replies, “I told Papandreou the same.” “Papandreou” is a likely reference to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

Mitchell then discusses communicating with “Moratinos,” a likely reference to Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Clinton replies by mentioning a plan to call “Ashton,” a likely reference to the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and “Bibi,” the nickname of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

It is not clear why Clinton invites Mitchell to discuss such high-level diplomatic communications via her unsecure personal email address. In 2015, J. William Leonard, former director of the US Information Security Oversight Office, will make the general comment, “If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by US rules that is classified at the moment it’s in US channels and US possession. […] It’s born classified.” (Reuters, 8/21/2015)

September 12, 2010: An email forwarded to Clinton apparently reveals the names and emails of four secret CIA officials.

Judith McHale (Credit: public domain)

Judith McHale (Credit: public domain)

State Department official Mary Sanderson emails over a dozen other officials some analysis about Turkey from the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). State Department official Judith McHale forwards the email to Clinton and a couple of her aides. Nothing in the analysis will later be deemed classified, but it appears four other recipients of Sanderson’s email are secret CIA officials. (US Department of State, 9/12/2010)

November 2010: Clinton writes she doesn’t want “any risk of the personal being accessible” in her emails, contradicting her later claim that her main concern is “convenience.”

The seventeen words that merited a headline by the New Yorker: "Let's get separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal being accessible." (Credit: The New Yorker)

The seventeen words that merited a headline by the New Yorker: “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” (Credit: The New Yorker)

Clinton and her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, discuss the fact that Clinton’s emails to other State Department employees are sometimes not being received. Apparently, they are getting discarded as spam because they are coming from an unofficial address.

Abedin tells Clinton in an email that “we should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.”

In response, Clinton writes, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

In 2016, the New Yorker Magazine will comment that Clinton’s “personal being accessible” comment “seem[s] to confirm what many observers have suspected from the outset: Clinton’s main motive in setting up the email system wasn’t to make it easier for her to receive all her messages in one place, or to do all her business on her beloved BlackBerry; it was to protect some of her correspondence—particularly correspondence she considered private—from freedom-of-information requests and other demands for details, for example, from Republican-run congressional committees.” (The New Yorker, 5/26/2016)

These emails between Clinton and Abedin will not be included in the 30,000 work-related emails that Clinton turns over to the State Department in December 2014, even though they clearly discuss work matters. The State Department will later discover them through other means, most likely from Abedin’s email inbox. (The Associated Press, 5/26/2016)