May 3, 2013: In a public speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman says Clinton conducts diplomacy on her unsecure BlackBerry.

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Sherman says that technology “has changed the way diplomacy is done. […] Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” She recalls the 2011 United Nations General Assembly, during which Clinton and European diplomat Catherine Ashton negotiated. “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.”

The Hill will later note that Sherman’s comments “suggest that diplomats across the [State Department] routinely declined to use special protections for classified information to prioritize convenience.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) 

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later make the general observation, “The State Department has a longstanding reputation for being less than serious about security, and its communications have often wound up in foreign hands. It’s something of a tradition at [State Department headquarters], to the chagrin of the Intelligence Community…” (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

May 10, 2013: The State Department responds to a FOIA request that there is no evidence of a Clinton email address when there clearly is.

On December 6, 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts.

Anne Weismann (Credit: public domain)

Anne Weismann (Credit: public domain)

On this day, State Department official Sheryl Walter sends a response letter to CREW’s chief counsel Anne Weismann that states “no records responsive to your request were located.” No details or reasons are given. (US Department of State, 8/29/2016)

In fact, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills was informed about this FOIA request while Clinton was still secretary of state, and she knew Clinton’s private email address was responsive to the request, but she took no action and merely had another official monitor the progress of the request. Clinton may have been sent an email about it as well.

Also, in the months since the FOIA request was made, Clinton’s exact email address was revealed to the media, due to the Guccifer hack of a Clinton associate in March 2013. But the department’s “no response” reply would mean she used no email address for work.

Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, will conclude in a 2016 report that the State Department gave an “inaccurate and incomplete” response about Clinton’s email use in this case and in other similar cases. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 1/6/2016)

May 21, 2013—February 12, 2014: Clinton’s emails are not searched in response to a relevant FOIA request.

On May 21, 2013, Judicial Watch files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to Clinton aide Huma Abedin and the six-month time period starting in 2012 when she held three outside jobs in addition to being Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Part of the request is for communications about this matter from Clinton and Abedin.

State Department official Jonathon Wasser is asked to search for relevant records on October 1, 2013. He searches several department databases in November 2013, but does not check for emails from Abedin’s government email account or her private account, or Clinton’s private account. As a result, the official response given to Judicial Watch on February 12, 2014, contains only eight documents, and none of them are emails. Thus, Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account will remain a secret.

It will later be revealed that department officials at the time generally did not search for emails even when a FOIA request asked for that type of communication.

In 2015, after Clinton’s email scandal becomes public, the department will finally search for and find emails from both Clinton and Abedin responsive to the FOIA request. (Politico, 6/9/2016(Judicial Watch, 6/8/2016)

May 31, 2013: Clinton hires the Colorado-based Platte River Networks to maintain her email server.

The Denver, Colorado, apartment building where Platte River was based until mid-2015. (Credit: Matthew Jones / The Daily Mail)

The Denver, Colorado, apartment building where Platte River was based until mid-2015. (Credit: Matthew Jones / The Daily Mail)

Platte River Networks (PRN) will begin managing the server in early June, with the management of Clinton’s aides Bryan Pagliano and Justin Cooper being phased out as a result. But the Service Level Agreement won’t be signed until July 18, 2013.

The original server is disconnected and shipped from Clinton’s house in Chappaqua, New York, to a data center in New Jersey. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016) (The Associated Press, 10/7/2015) (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)

This takes place three months after the hacker nicknamed Guccifer made public Clinton’s exact email address. However, the process of choosing the company began in January 2013, prior to the Guccifer hack, suggesting the change was at least partially due to Clinton’s time as secretary of state coming to an end in February 2013 instead. (The Washington Post, 9/5/2015)

Platte River will soon relocate Clinton’s server to New Jersey, then replace it with a new server, while keeping the old server running.

May 31, 2013—June 2013: A device is bought to make back-ups of Clinton’s private server, but a Clinton company makes clear it doesn’t want any back-up data stored remotely.

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Datto Cloud engineer Charles Lundblad (left) chats with CEO and founder of Datto, Austin McChord, at the firm’s Norwalk, CT headquarters. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / Hearst Connecticut Media)

On May 31, 2013, Platte River Networks (PRN) takes over management of Clinton’s private server. On the same day, PRN buys a Datto SIRIS S2000 data storage device, which is made by Datto, Inc. Over the next month, this is attached to Clinton’s server to provide periodic back-up copies of the data on the server. PRN sends a bill for the device to Clinton Executive Service Corp. (CESC), which is a Clinton family company.

CESC employees work with PRN employees on how the Datto device is configured. Datto offers a local back-up and a remote back-up using the Internet “cloud.” CESC asks for a local back-up and specifically requests that no data be stored in the Internet cloud at any time.

However, due to an apparent misunderstanding, back-up copies of the server will be periodically made both locally and in the cloud. This will only be discovered by PRN as a whole in August 2015. (US Congress, 9/12/2016)

However, despite internal PRN emails from August 2015 indicating many PRN employees didn’t know about the Datto cloud back-up until that time, the FBI will later find evidence that an unknown PRN employee deleted data from the cloud back-up in March 2015, meaning that at least one PRN employee had to have known about the cloud back-up by that time.