Clinton is forwarded an email from her aide Jake Sullivan with the subject heading “Mr. Donilon’s Meeting.” This is a likely reference to National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon. Virtually all the text in the emails in this chain are later redacted. However, emails in the chain are CCed to over 30 US officials, including at least one who is a secret CIA official. (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)
An unnamed CIA official writes an email to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, talking about the end of his tour of duty. He had worked for Clinton in some capacity in the last year. He signs his email “TLG.”
Mills forwards the email to Clinton, and the amount of spacing suggests she mentions his full name in saying that “[redacted] last day is Thursday.”
Clinton merely replies by writing, “He did a good job.”
The name of the CIA official will later be redacted. (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)
Clinton comments on the imminent court martial case of Army Private Bradley Manning (later Chelsea Manning), after Manning gave a large cache of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Clinton says, “I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.” (CBS News, 12/16/2011)
Manning is later convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison, although none of the documents in question are rated “top secret.”
The Intercept will later note that Clinton’s comments occur “during the time that she had covertly installed a non-government server and was using it and a personal email account to receive classified and, apparently, even top-secret information.” (The Intercept, 8/12/2015)
State Department official Claire Coleman emails Clinton her daily schedule early in the morning. It mentions a photo opportunity with a person. The person’s name will later be redacted, but the context makes it clear it is the secret CIA official who gives her a daily intelligence briefing.
The New York Times will later report, “That email was originally released as ‘confidential’ but upgraded to ‘secret,’ probably reflecting that the person holds an undercover position now.” (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (The New York Times, 5/10/2016)
Clinton sends a reply which is also classified at the “secret” level. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)
On December 23, 2011, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter sends a short email to his bosses Frank Ruggiero, who is acting US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Ruggiero’s deputy Daniel Feldman. The email’s subject heading is “(SBU),” which stands for “sensitive but unclassified.” The single line email will later be mostly redacted, but according to a June 2016 Wall Street Journal article, Munter indicates that a specific US drone strike is planned.
Feldman then forwards the email to Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills with the comment, “I’m sure you know already, but just in case.” There are two more emails between Feldman and Mills in the chain that day, mostly later redacted.
Then, on December 27, 2011, Mills resumes the chain with a short email to Feldman, asking, “What happened on this?”
After some more mostly redacted discussion, the full email chain is forwarded by Mills to Clinton later that day. Her response, if any, is unknown.
The Wall Street Journal will later cite this chain as its only specific example of emails about the US drone program said to be a “key part” of the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Apparently, many of the other emails about various drone strikes are later deemed “top secret,” so their details can’t be shared.
The Journal will claim this email chain is an example of officials having discussions about highly classified drone strikes via unsecured emails “in part because people were away from their offices for the [Christmas] holiday and didn’t have access to a classified computer, officials said.”
Munter incorrectly marks the original email “SBU,” because the Journal will later note, “Under strict US classification rules, US officials have been barred from discussing strikes publicly and even privately outside of secure communications systems.”
In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be asked about this email chain, which reached her on December 27, 2011. “Clinton stated no policy or practice existed related to communicating around holidays, and it was often necessary to communicate in code or do the best you could to convey the information considering the email system you were using. In reference to the same email, Clinton believed if the foreign press was to obtain information from that email, it would not cause damage to the US Government.”
It is impossible to judge the validity Clinton’s comments, since so much of the entire chain remains redacted. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Bernadette Meehan, a special assistant to Clinton, sends an email to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and a few others. Apparently, Clinton is spending Christmas vacation at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as she does every year, and she is having trouble getting an Internet connection for her BlackBerry.
Abedin emails Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton, about this. She asks, “Are we having problem with clintonemail?”
Cooper says there are “No issues on our end.” But he apparently is not at the Chappaqua, New York, house were the server is, because he adds that he is CCing Oscar Flores and Jon Davidson “who are there to see if they are having trouble.” (US Department of State, 6/20/2016) (The Associated Press, 4/13/2015)
This is further evidence that Cooper, who is not a government employee and apparently has no security clearance, is helping to manage Clinton’s private server. Flores is Bill Clinton’s personal valet and is said to spend a lot of time with him at the Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, house. (Politico, 9/24/2010) Davidson is Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. (New York Magazine, 4/14/2015)
This raises the possibility that two more people without proper authorization had access to all of Clinton’s emails on her server.