Early May 2015—Early July 2015: Patrick Kennedy and other State Department officials allegedly attempt to change or remove the classification codes of some Clinton emails to make their release less politically damaging for Clinton.

An unnamed State Department official who worked in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) will be interviewed by the FBI on August 17, 2015. She will claim there was a deliberate effort to change some Clinton emails bearing the “B(1)” code, which classifies information due to “national security,” to the “B(5)” code, which classifies information mostly due to “interagency or intra-agency communications.”

This person “believed there was interference with the formal [Freedom of Information Act] FOIA review process. Specifically, [the State Department’s] Near East Affairs Bureau upgraded several of Clinton’s emails to a classified level with a B(1) release exemption. [Redacted] along with [redacted] attorney, Office of Legal Counsel called State’s Near East Affairs Bureau and told them they could use a B(5) exemption on an upgraded email to protect it instead of the B(1) exemption.”

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy (Credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy (Credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)

The interviewee reported in early May 2015 that Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy “held a closed-door meeting with [redacted]  and [redacted] [Justice Department’s] Office of Information Programs where Kennedy pointedly asked [redacted] to change the FBI’s classification determination regarding one of Clinton’s emails, which the FBI considered classified. The email was related to FBI counter-terrorism operations.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

In October 2016, Fox News will report, “This appears to be one of two emails that kick-started the FBI [Clinton email investigation] in the summer of 2015.” (Fox News, 10/6/2016) The email in question was sent on November 18, 2012 by department official Bill Roebuck and forwarded to Clinton by her aide Jake Sullivan. If Kennedy tried to change the classified code on this email he must have failed, because when the email is published on May 22, 2015, it is classified at the “secret” level (the medium level below “top secret”) due to a section using the B(1) code. (US Department of State, 5/22/2015)

However, classification codes may be changed on other emails. On August 26, 2015, Fox News will report that “Kennedy, who was deeply involved in the Benghazi controversy, is running interference on the classified email controversy on Capitol Hill. Two sources confirmed that Kennedy went to Capitol Hill in early July [2015] and argued [the November 18, 2012] email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan [plus one other email] did not contain classified material. … One participant found it odd Kennedy insisted on having the discussion in a secure facility for classified information, known as a SCIF,” although Kennedy claimed the two emails were unclassified. (Fox News, 8/26/2015)

Then, on September 1, 2015, Fox News will report that “At least four classified Hillary Clinton emails had their markings changed to a category that shields the content from Congress and the public… in what State Department whistleblowers believed to be an effort to hide the true extent of classified information on the former secretary of state’s server. The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May [2015], was confirmed by two sources — one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department’s legal office, the designation was switched to ‘B5’…”

Kate Duval (Credit: LinkedIn)

Kate Duval (Credit: LinkedIn)

One of the lawyers in the office where the changes are made is Kate Duval, who once worked for Williams & Connolly, the same law firm as Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall.  Duval also served as an attorney and advisor in the Obama Administration on oversight issues and high-profile investigations, most recently at the Department of State and, before that, as Counselor to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. There are internal department complaints that Duval, and a second lawyer also linked to Kendall, “gave at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest during the email review. A State Department spokesman did not dispute the basic facts of the incident, confirming to Fox News the disagreement over the four classified emails as well as the internal complaints. But the spokesman said the concerns were unfounded.” (Fox News, 9/1/2015)

Kennedy will also be interviewed by the FBI on December 21, 2015. Redactions will make the interview summary difficult to follow, but apparently he will be asked about these accusations. He will say that while the official who accused him “says it like it is” and has “no fear of telling truth to power,” he “categorically rejected” the allegations of classified code tampering. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

May 4, 2015: Former President Bill Clinton responds to criticism of the Clinton Foundation and his large speaking fees.

Bill and Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, New York, on January 6, 2015. (Credit: Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

Bill and Hillary Clinton in Manhattan, New York, on January 6, 2015. (Credit: Carlo Allegri / Reuters)

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy.” He says he won’t stop being paid for giving speeches. “I gotta pay our bills. And I also give a lot of it to the foundation every year.” He also says, “People should draw their own conclusions. I’m not in politics. All I’m saying is the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.” (NBC News, 5/4/2015)

The next day, Politico reports that his “I gotta pay our bills” comment strikes some Democrats as “off-key” and worrisome, given the vast wealth the Clintons have. (Politico, 5/5/2015)

May 5, 2015: The controversial book “Clinton Cash” is published, criticizing the Clinton Foundation.

The book, Clinton Cash (Credit: public domain)

The book, Clinton Cash (Credit: public domain)

The book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, written by Peter Schweizer, is published by HarperCollins. The book is highly critical of the Clinton Foundation, and is released within one month of Clinton announcing her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. In November 2016, it will be revealed that the book is a major reason why the FBI starts an investigation into the foundation a short time after its publication.

The book causes controversy even before it is published, due to major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News, getting exclusive stories based on different portions of the book. The Times at least says they didn’t pay anyone for their exclusives. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015)

The foundation also publicly admits that it made mistakes, due to a wave of negative reporting, with many stories based on the books’ contents.

The day the book is published, Clinton’s campaign posts a section its official website attempting to refute the book’s claims. Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, writes: “The book has zero evidence to back up its outlandish claims… While we will not be consumed by these kinds of attacks, we will also not let them go unchallenged.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2015)

The book is widely read, staying five weeks on the New York Times’ best seller list. (The New York Times, 6/21/2015)

Peter Schweizer (Credit: clintoncashdotcom)

Peter Schweizer (Credit: clintoncashdotcom)

Much of the criticism of the book is based on the reputation and motives of its author. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a right wing think tank, and was a research fellow at Stanford University’s right wing Hoover Institution. He is also a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart News, a controversial right wing news website so supportive of Donald Trump, the man who will become Clinton’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, that Stephen Bannon, the executive chair of Breitbart News, will resign in August 2016 to become the CEO of Trump’s campaign. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016)

Schweizer has written many books, most of them with an overt right wing political slant, such as Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, published in 2005.

Shortly after the book is published, the publisher announces that “seven to eight factual corrections” have been made to a revised version, calling them “actually quite minor.” (Politico, 5/14/2015)

A Newsweek review of the book comments, [J]ust because the book’s author, who has written for Breitbart News, is widely considered a right-wing guttersnipe… doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Well, at least not entirely wrong. He gets various dates and figures wrong… Mostly, though, it raises intriguing questions without ever really convicting.”

Newsweek continues, “The book contains many more lurid examples of Bill and Hillary [Clinton] doing things that look bad—from Bill taking juicy speaking fees from a major investor in the Keystone XL pipeline while Hillary’s state department reviewed the pipeline deal, to the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from a Swedish mining investor who more or less financed a coup in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. None of these actions are illegal. And it’s not even clear if they’re related. The rooster doesn’t cause the sun to rise, but this is the thrust of Schweizer’s argument. He never proves any laws were broken—in fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: ‘I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.'” (Newsweek, 5/1/2015)

May 11, 2015: A former CIA official is sentenced to prison for giving the name of a CIA asset to a reporter.

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was convicted of nine criminal counts for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen in 2003. Prosecutors claimed it was a plot to embarrass the CIA, after he was fired from the agency in 2002. However, others have seen him as a whistleblower. It was alleged that in 2003, Sterling revealed information about a CIA operation to harm Iran’s nuclear program by having a scientist provide Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. However, Risen wrote in a 2006 book that the operation was mismanaged and may have inadvertently aided Iran. Sterling also revealed his concerns about the program to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003.

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema says Sterling caused damage by effectively revealing the identity of someone working for the CIA, and “If you do knowingly reveal these secrets, there’s going to be a price to be paid.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2015) (The New York Times, 1/26/2015)

May 15, 2015: The Clinton Foundation announces that it will place new limits on its fundraising activities.

In the wake of numerous critical news reports, and just days after Hillary Clinton announced her second presidential campaign, the foundation says that it will limit foreign government donations to six countries that have already funded Clinton Foundation programs: Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other countries that donated in the last year, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, are not included. The foundation also says it will suspend its future overseas conferences. (Politico, 4/15/2015)

The foundation placed voluntary limits on itself in 2008 shortly before Hillary became secretary of state, but those limits were secretly violated in a number of ways.

May 15, 2015: Dozens of media organizations and journalists have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

The foundation’s records show that there are not many news outlets who would report on the foundation and didn’t donate some money to it. The following have given at least $1 million:

  • Carlos Slim, the Mexican multibillionaire who is also the largest New York Times shareholder.
  • James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, and the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
  • Newsmax Media, the conservative media outlet.
  • Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Reuters news service.

Others to donate smaller amounts include Google, Bloomberg, Richard Mellon Scaife, Mort Zuckerman, AOL, HBO, Viacom, Turner Broadcasting (CNN), Twitter, Comcast, NBC Universal, PBS, the Washington Post, and many more. (Politico, 5/15/2015)

May 15, 2015: Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell says he believes some foreign intelligence agencies possess the contents of Clinton’s private email server.

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell (Credit: Time)

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell (Credit: Time)

He says, “I think that foreign intelligence services, the good ones, have everything on any unclassified network that the government uses.” (Politico, 5/15/2015) Morrell was acting CIA director twice under President Obama before retiring in 2013.

May 18, 2015: A journalist gives Clinton’s campaign manager extensive advice on how to improve Clinton’s campaign.

Hill columnist Brent Budowsky writes an email with the subject heading “John, be careful” to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta about attacks Clinton opponents will launch during the 2016 race.

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Budowsky writes, “I am not going to raise this publicly, but one of [Clinton’s] opponents will soon charge that she is running an ‘imperial campaign.’ If it is the right opponent, Democrat or Republican, the charge will resonate.”

He suggests that “probably 90 percent of the total media coverage of [Clinton] has a negative slant, from her paid speeches to foundation donations to not answering questions from the press.”

Budowsky also warns, “Her caution on policy has created a news vacuum that is filled by these other stories. While I don’t have the highest regard for most of the campaign press corps, they are getting dangerously unhappy about [Clinton] refusing to answer questions. If we look at a long curve of her numbers, there is reason for serious concern if trends continue, and I see nothing today that will change them unless Clinton changes her strategy,”

He also voices concern that “he’s heard from many, many Democrats and that there is something off-key about her campaign. The hope that Republican candidates are so bad she can win by playing cautious. That is a very dangerous way to run for president.”

Budowsky concludes, “There is a missing element in her campaign and it is troubling. The ‘imperial campaign’ charge will resonate when the right candidate figures it out.”

Podesta responds, “Message heard, although I think caution will ultimately be measured by what she says and what she’s for rather than how many press gaggles she does.”

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

May 19, 2015: A federal judge orders the gradual release of all of Clinton’s work-related emails.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras orders the State Department to release the over 30,000 Clinton emails from her time as secretary of state in small batches, with redactions of any classified information. The State Department says it will finish doing so by January 29, 2016. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016

Over the next several months, the State Department will release 30,068 emails in 14 batches, with the final batch getting released one month late, on February 29, 2016. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

May 21, 2015: The Clinton Foundation confirms that it received millions in previously unreported payments by foreign governments and corporations for speeches given by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The foundation won’t give the exact amount, but it is somewhere between 12 and 26 million dollars. Foundation officials say the income was not disclosed publicly because it was considered revenue, rather than donations. CNN calls this “the latest in a string of admissions from the foundation that it didn’t always abide by a 2008 ethics agreement to disclose its funding sources publicly.” (CNN, 5/21/2015)

May 22, 2015: Blumenthal “may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton.”

Bloomberg News comments, “The extent to which [Sid] Blumenthal may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton as secretary of state has been an emerging line of inquiry” for the House Benghazi Committee. Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance who nonetheless sent Clinton hundreds of emails containing intelligence information, including classified information. (Bloomberg News, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015: The first batch of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state are made public by the State Department.

This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)

May 26, 2015: The Clintons are criticized for mixing government work with fund raising.

Stephen Walt (Credit: public domain)

Stephen Walt (Credit: public domain)

Stephen Walt, a Harvard University professor of international affairs, says that the intertwining financial relationships between the Clintons, US defense contractors, and foreign governments who buy US weapons is “a vivid example of a very big problem—the degree to which conflicts of interest have become endemic. […] It has troubled me all along that the Clinton Foundation was not being more scrupulous about who it would take money from and who it wouldn’t. American foreign policy is better served if people responsible for it are not even remotely suspected of having these conflicts of interest. When George Marshall was secretary of state, nobody was worried about whether or not he would be distracted by donations to a foundation or to himself. This wasn’t an issue.” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

May 26, 2015: The DNC favors Clinton’s presidential ambitions from the start, and wants to “muddy the waters around ethics, transparency, and campaign finance attacks’ to protect her.

The Democratic National Committee goals and strategy (Credit: The Democratic National Committee)

The Democratic National Committee goals and strategy (Credit: The Democratic National Committee)

In June 2016, it will be revealed that hackers broke into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and someone nicknamed “Guccifer 2.0” will post documents that appear to come from the network. One such file is dated from May 26, 2015. It contains advice on how Clinton can win the presidency, even though the Democratic presidential primary campaign has just begun and the DNC is supposed to be neutral until one Democratic candidate wins the nomination.

A portion of the file states: “Reporter Outreach: Working through the DNC and others, we should use background briefings, prep with reporters for interviews with GOP candidates, off-the-record conversations and oppo pitches to help pitch stories with no fingerprints and utilize reporters to drive a message.” The same document also advises: “Use specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency, and campaign finance attacks on HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton].”

The document specifies it is addressed to the DNC, but is not clear who exactly wrote the file. (Inquisitr, 6/15/2016)