August 21, 2015: In many cases, information in Clinton’s emails were “born classified.”

That means they were classified from their creation. A Reuters analysis concludes, “In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own ‘classified’ stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The US government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to US officials by their foreign counterparts.” Although unmarked, Reuters’ analysis suggests that these emails “were classified from the start.”

J. William Leonard, a former director of the NARA Information Security Oversight Office, said that such information is “born classified” and that “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.” According to Reuters, the standard US government nondisclosure agreement “warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form.”

The State Department disputes Reuters’ analysis but does not elaborate or explain why. (Reuters, 8/21/2015)

September 2, 2015: It is widely believed foreign governments have intercepted Clinton’s emails.

The Daily Beast reports on Clinton’s email scandal, “There’s a widely held belief among American counterspies that foreign intelligence agencies had to be reading the emails on Hillary’s private server, particularly since it was wholly unencrypted for months. ‘I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this,’ explained one veteran Department of Defense counterintelligence official, adding: ‘I’d hate to be the guy in Moscow or Beijing right now who had to explain why they didn’t have all of Hillary’s email.’ Given the widespread hacking that has plagued the State Department, the Pentagon, and even the White House during Obama’s presidency, senior counterintelligence officials are assuming the worst about what the Russians and Chinese know.”

An unnamed senior official who is “close to the investigation” says, “Of course they knew what they were doing, it’s as clear as day from the emails. I’m a Democrat and this makes me sick. They were fully aware of what they were up to, and the Bureau knows it.” (The Daily Beast, 9/2/2015)

September 3, 2015: A Clinton advisor speculates that Bryan Pagliano wants to plead the Fifth because he “retrieved all our emails” for someone, possibly a Clinton Foundation official.

Maura Pally (Credit: Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan)

Maura Pally (Credit: Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan)

Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The subject heading is “Re: This Bryan Pagliano situation.” Most of their email exchange appears to be about other matters, but Tanden makes the comment, “Bryan was the one who retrieved all our emails for Maura to read. Maybe that is why he’s avoiding testifying.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

This email comes one day after it is first reported that Pagliano is going to plead the Fifth before a Congressional committee that wants to question him about his role managing Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state. (The New York Times, 9/5/2015)

It is not clear who “Maura” is. However, the only Maura in Clinton’s inner circle at the time is Maura Pally. She was deputy counsel on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2013, she began working for the Clinton Foundation. She was the interim CEO of the foundation from January until April 2015, and she has been vice president of programs at the foundation since then. (Politico, 5/30/2013) (Politico, 4/27/2015)

The FBI’s summary of Pagliano’s December 2015 interview will make no mention of anything like this. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

Perhaps that is because the email will not be publicly known until it is released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.

September 10, 2015: Clinton’s computer technician refuses to testify to Congressional investigators.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: Bloomberg News / Getty Images)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: Bloomberg News / Getty Images)

Clinton’s former private server manager Bryan Pagliano invokes his Fifth Amendment rights and refuses to speak in a private meeting before the House Benghazi Committee. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/2015)  His unwillingness to cooperate was first reported on September 2, 2015. (The New York Times, 9/2/2015)

Pagliano begins secretly cooperating with the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails in the fall of 2015, though it’s not clear if it is before or after this meeting. He describes how he set up the private server in Clinton’s house and gives the FBI the server’s security logs. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)

September 12, 2015: The company that recently managed Clinton’s email server say they have “no knowledge of the server being wiped.”

Platte River Networks (PRN) managed her server from mid-2013 to early August 2015. PRN spokesperson Andy Boian says, “Platte River has no knowledge of the server being wiped.” He adds, “All the information we have is that the server wasn’t wiped.” The Washington Post says this is “the strongest indication to date that tens of thousands of emails that Clinton has said were deleted could be recovered.”

If a server is not wiped, which is a process that include overwriting data several times, deleted content can often be recovered. Clinton and her staff have avoided answering if the server was wiped or not. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)

However, a 2016 FBI report will conclude that in late March 2015, a PRN employee named Paul Combetta used a computer program named BleachBit that effectively deleted Clinton’s emails so they couldn’t be later recovered by the FBI. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 22, 2015: Reports suggest the FBI has recovered Clinton’s deleted emails.

According to Bloomberg News, the FBI has been able to recover at least some of the 31,830 emails deleted by Clinton. The exact number of recovered emails is still unknown. Clinton claimed she deleted those emails, which make up slightly more than half of all her emails from her time as secretary of state, because they were personal in nature.

Bloomberg News reports that, “Once the emails have been extracted, a group of agents has been separating personal correspondence and passing along work-related messages to agents leading the investigation, the person said.” This clearly indicates that not all of the deleted emails were personal in nature, as Clinton has claimed. Clinton’s spokesperson does not address the discrepancy, except to say that Clinton continues to cooperate with investigators. (Bloomberg News, 9/2/2015) 

The same day, the New York Times also reports that deleted emails have been recovered. According to two unnamed government officials, “It was not clear whether the entire trove of roughly 60,000 emails had been found on the server, but one official said it had not been very hard for the FBI to recover the messages.” (The New York Times, 9/23/2015) 

Chris Soghoian, the lead technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), comments, “Clinton’s private email server was secure. Clinton’s people didn’t know how to delete her old emails. These two things can’t both be true.” (Business Insider, 9/23/2015)

A September 2016 FBI report will reveal that the FBI was able to recover about 17,500 of Clinton’s deleted emails. However, a computer program was used to wipe parts of Clinton’s server, preventing the recovery of the rest. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 27, 2015: Clinton says she wasn’t involved in deciding which emails to delete.

Asked if it’s possible that some work-related emails were deleted when Clinton deleted over 31,000 emails from her time as secretary of state, Clinton replies that the process was “exhaustive,” but “I didn’t look at them.”

Instead, her lawyers made the decisions.  Clinton adds, “I wanted them to be as clear in their process as possible. I didn’t want to be looking over their shoulder. If they thought it was work-related, it would go to the State Department. If not, then it would not.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/2015)

September 27, 2015: Clinton cannot explain the discovery of some emails she didn’t turn over.

Clinton claimed that the first time she used her email address from her private server was on March 18, 2009, so all the emails she has handed over come from after that date. But in the wake of reports that some emails were found from her address two months earlier, Clinton is asked to explain the discrepancy.

She says, “There was a transition period. You know, I wasn’t that focused on my email.”

She adds that the server existed in her house for years before she added her account, and “it apparently took a little time to do that. And so there was about a month where I didn’t have everything already on the server, and we [later] went back, tried to, you know, recover whatever we could recover. And I think it’s also fair to say that, you know, there are some things about this that I just can’t control. I am by no means a technical expert. I relied on people who were.”

The New York Times later comments about her remarks, “The issue of whether Mrs. Clinton has been forthcoming about when she began using the personal account…is only the latest email-related question to distract from her policy positions and message during her presidential campaign.” (The New York Times, 9/27/2009)

October 3, 2015: The FBI picks up the most recent Clinton email server, which is still being used by Clinton.

An inside look at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, NJ. (Credit: Chang W. Lee / New York Time)

An inside look at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Credit: Chang W. Lee / New York Time)

Although the mainstream media in 2015 generally mentions only one Clinton email server, there actually are two in existence at this time. Both are located at an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and both are managed by Platte River Networks (PRN).

Clinton’s emails and other data had been transferred from the old server (which the FBI will later call the “Pagliano Server”) to the new server (which the FBI will call the “PRN Server”) in late June 2013, leaving the old server mostly empty but still running. On August 12, 2015, the FBI only picked up the old server for analysis.

A September 2016 FBI report will explain, “At the time of the FBI’s acquisition of the Pagliano Server, Williams & Connolly [the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall] did not advise the US government of the existence of the additional equipment associated with the Pagliano Server, or that Clinton’s clintonemail.com emails had been migrated to the successor PRN Server remaining at Equinix. The FBI’s subsequent investigation identified this additional equipment and revealed the email migration.”

The report will continue, “As a result, on October 3, 2015, the FBI obtained, via consent provided by Clinton through Williams & Connolly, both the remaining Pagliano Server equipment and the PRN Server, which had remained operational and was hosting Clinton’s personal email account until it was disconnected and produced to the FBI.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

October 8, 2015: President Obama calls Clinton’s use of a private email server a “mistake,” but also says, “I don’t think it posed a national security problem.”

President Obama in a 60 Minutes interview that aired October 11, 2015. (Credit: CBS News)

President Obama in a 60 Minutes interview that aired October 11, 2015. (Credit: CBS News)

In a 60 Minutes interview, he goes on to say, “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” He adds that, “We don’t get an impression that there was purposely efforts […] to hide something or to squirrel away information,”

However, several days later a White House spokesperson says Obama will wait for the Justice Department investigation’s determination about that. Politico will later comment, “Agents and retired FBI personnel told journalists the comments were inappropriate given the fact that the FBI inquiry was ongoing.” (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015(CNN, 10/13/2015) (Politico, 3/9/2016)

October 13, 2015: Clinton’s private server was especially vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Clinton checks her phone at the United Nations Security Council on March 12, 2012. (Credit: Richard Drew / The Associated Press)

Clinton checks her phone at the United Nations Security Council on March 12, 2012. (Credit: Richard Drew / The Associated Press)

The Associated Press reports that “The private email server running in [Clinton’s] home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers, according to data and documents reviewed by the Associated Press. […] Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service [used on the server] wasn’t intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of US government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.” (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015) 

One anonymous senior National Security Agency (NSA) official comments after reading the Associated Press report, “Were they drunk? Anybody could have been inside that server—anybody.” (The New York Observer, 10/19/2015)

October 13, 2015: Sanders says he’s sick of hearing about Clinton’s “damn emails.”

Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shake hands moments after his "damn emails" comment during the first Democratic primary debate. (Credit: Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton shake hands moments after his “damn emails” comment during the first Democratic primary debate. (Credit: Reuters)

In the first Democratic primary debate, Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, addresses Clinton’s email scandal. “Let me say this. Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”

Clinton responds, “Thank you. Me too. Me too.” Then the two of them shake hands.

According to the Los Angeles Times: “The crowd went wild. So did the Internet.” (The Los Angeles Times, 10/13/2015

Sanders will continue to avoid criticizing Clinton about her emails in the months that follow. Some of Sanders’ allies are disappointed that he doesn’t frequently attack Clinton on the issue. Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D), a Clinton supporter, will later say, “The email story is not about emails. It is about wanting to avoid the reach of citizens using FOIA”—the Freedom of Information Act—“to find out what their government is doing, and then not telling the truth about why she did.” (The New York Times, 4/3/2016)

October 22, 2015: Clinton incorrectly claims under oath that her lawyers “went through every single email” before deleting some.

Representative Jim Jordan (Credit: public domain)

Representative Jim Jordan (Credit: public domain)

During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks Clinton questions about how her emails from her tenure as secretary of state were sorted and some of them deleted in late 2014. He asks, “You have stated that you used a multi-step process to determine which ones were private, which ones were public, which ones belonged to you and your family, which ones belonged to the taxpayer. Who oversaw this multi-step process in making that determination which ones we might get and which ones that were personal?”

Clinton replies, “That was overseen by my attorneys and they conducted a rigorous review of my emails…”

Jordan visually identifies the three lawyers who were known to be involved in the sorting process — David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson — because they are sitting right behind Clinton in the hearing, and Clinton confirms those are the ones. He then asks Clinton what she means by “rigorous.”

Sitting behind Clinton at the Benghazi committee hearing are, starting left in order of appearance, Heather Samuelson, Jake Sullivan, (unidentified man), Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall. (Credit: Getty Images)

Sitting behind Clinton at the Benghazi committee hearing are, starting left in order of appearance, Heather Samuelson, Jake Sullivan, Phil Schiliro, Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton explains, “It means that they were asked to provide anything that could be possibly construed as work related. In fact, in my opinion — and that’s been confirmed by both the State Department…”

Jordan interrupts, “But I’m asking how — I’m asking how it was done. Was — did someone physically look at the 62,000 emails, or did you use search terms, date parameters? I want to know the specifics.”

Clinton responds, “They did all of that, and I did not look over their shoulders, because I thought it would be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.”

Then Jordan asks, “Will you provide this committee — or can you answer today — what were the search terms?”

Clinton answers, “The search terms were everything you could imagine that might be related to anything, but they also went through every single email.”

When asked for more specifics, she says, “I asked my attorneys to oversee the process. I did not look over their shoulder. I did not dictate how they would do it. I did not ask what they were doing and how they made their determinations.”

After more questioning, Clinton refuses to mention any of the search terms.

Additionally, when asked if there were in fact two servers, she says there was just one.

She also says, “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”

Jordan concludes his questioning by asking, “If the FBI finds some of these emails that might be deleted, as they’re reviewing your server, will you agree to allow a neutral third party — like a retired federal judge — to review any emails deleted to determine if any of them are relevant to our investigation?”

She dodges giving an answer, despite being further pressed on the issue. (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

Trey Gowdy (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

Trey Gowdy (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

On July 7, 2016, after concluding the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails, FBI Director James Comey will be questioned under oath by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?”

Comey will reply, “No.”

Gowdy will also ask, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”

Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”

Gowdy then will ask if it’s true she never sent or received information marked classified on her private email.

Comey will reply, “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.”

Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will ask Comey if the FBI has investigated the truthfulness of Clinton’s testimony under oath. After Comey says that would require a referral from Congress, Chaffetz will promise to get him one right away. (Politico, 7/7/2016)

October 22, 2015: Clinton publicly testifies before the House Benghazi Committee and answers questions for eleven hours.

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

The New York Times reports that “the long day of often-testy exchanges between committee members and their prominent witness revealed little new information about an episode that has been the subject of seven previous investigations… Perhaps stung by recent admissions that the pursuit of Mrs. Clinton’s emails was politically motivated, Republican lawmakers on the panel for the most part avoided any mention of her use of a private email server.”

The email issue is briefly discussed shortly before lunch, in “a shouting match” between Republican committee chair Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings.

Later in the hearing, Representative Jim Jordan (R) accuses Clinton of changing her explanations of the email service. That leads to a “heated exchange” in which Clinton “repeated that she had made a mistake in using a private email account, but maintained that she had never sent or received anything marked classified and had sought to be transparent by publicly releasing her emails.” (The New York Times, 10/22/2015) (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

 

November 10, 2015: The FBI’s inquiry into Clinton’s emails has turned into a “full-blown investigation.”

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Politico reports, “The FBI’s recent moves [regarding Clinton’s private emails] suggest that its inquiry could have evolved from the preliminary fact-finding stage that the agency launches when it receives a credible referral, according to former FBI and Justice Department officials interviewed…” The FBI has been conducting interviews and gathering documents.

Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, says, “This sounds to me like it’s more than a preliminary inquiry; it sounds like a full-blown investigation. When you have this amount of resources going into it… I think it’s at the investigative level.” (Politico, 11/10/2015)

December 9, 2015: President Obama is not being briefed about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Senator Jeff Cornyn (Credit: US Congress)

Senator Jeff Cornyn (Credit: US Congress)

Speaking to FBI Director James Comey in a Congressional meeting, Senator Jeff Cornyn (R) expresses his concern about political pressure that could be put on the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails and server. Cornyn then asks, “Does the President get briefings on ongoing investigations by the FBI like this?”

Comey replies, “No.”

Then Cornyn asks, “So he would have no way of knowing what the status of the FBI investigation is?”

Comey replies, “Certainly not from briefings from the FBI.” (The Daily Caller, 12/9/2015)

December 11, 2015: Emails from Clinton’s computer technician are missing.

The State Department has told Senate investigators that it cannot find the emails of Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton aide who managed her private server. Department officials found a “.pst file” which contains back-up copies of Pagliano’s emails from the time period after Clinton was secretary of state, but his .pst file for Clinton’s time as secretary of state is missing. But it is also revealed that the FBI has taken possession of Pagliano’s government computer, and it is hoped that some of all of the emails will be found there. Senate investigators want the email to help determine if Pagliano should be offered immunity in return for testimony. (Politico, 12/11/2015) 

However, it will later emerge that Pagliano was given immunity by the FBI some months earlier. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)

December 22, 2015: Pagliano is secretly interviewed as part of an immunity deal with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano makes a “derivative use” immunity deal with the Justice Department by this time, though it’s not clear exactly when this happens. Then he gives testimony to the FBI and the Justice Department as part of the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Apparently he speaks to investigators at least twice, though it is not known when the second interview takes place. “Derivative use” immunity wouldn’t prevent investigators from prosecuting Pagliano, but limits them from using any evidence derived from his testimony against him.

The media will first report on the immunity deal in March 2016, and more details will be made public in a court filing in June 2016. (LawNewz, 6/7/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)