Summer 2015: The FBI begins an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.

An FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation begins around the summer of 2015, after the publication of the controversial book Clinton Cash in May 2015. The author Peter Schweizer will be interviewed multiple times by the FBI. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report: “The probe of the foundation began… to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

In November 2016, CNN will comment on the investigation starting due to Clinton Cash: “It’s not uncommon for FBI probes to begin as a result of or be fueled by published news articles or books.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)

The investigation will continue, but the Justice Department will not give the FBI subpoena powers, keeping the investigation limited and hobbled.

 

Summer 2015—May 2016: One or more hackers access the DNC’s computer network.

CrowdStrike logo (Credit: CrowdStrike)

CrowdStrike logo (Credit: CrowdStrike)

In June 2016, it will be reported that the computer network of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was compromised for about a year. Around May 2016, the security company CrowdStrike is hired by the DNC to investigate and stop the hacking attack. According to CrowdStrike, there actually are two different groups that successfully break into the network, both of them linked to the Russian government.

The first group is said to be known by the nickname Cozy Bear. In 2015, it allegedly successfully infiltrated the unclassified networks of the White House, State Department, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others. This group gets into the DNC’s network in the summer of 2015 and is not stopped until May 2016.

The second group is said to be known by the nickname Fancy Bear, and it also has had many other successful attacks. It gets into the network in April 2016 and also is stopped in May 2016.

On June 15, 2016, someone going by the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” posts DNC files on the Internet. This person claims to have no connection to the Russian government, but also claims to have accessed the DNC network for “almost a year,” which is similar to what CrowdStrike says about Cozy Bear. (CrowdStrike.com, 6/15/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/15/2016)

Shortly After July 6, 2015: FBI Director Comey wants no special treatment for the Clinton email investigation.

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

At some point in late summer, after two inspectors general sent a “security referral” about Clinton’s emails to the FBI on July 6, 2015, FBI Director James Comey meet with John Giacalone, head of the FBI’s National Security Branch. Giacalone briefs Comey on the referral and says he wants to investigate how classified secrets got in the emails and whether anyone had committed a crime in the process.

Comey agrees, but according to Giacalone, “He wanted to make sure it was treated the same way as all other cases.” Giacalone will retire in February 2016, leaving the case to others. (Time, 3/31/2016)

July 10, 2015: The FBI’s Clinton investigation formally begins.

In September 2016, the FBI will reveal in a publicly released report, “On July 10, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a full investigation based upon a referral received from the US Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), submitted in accordance with Section 81 1(c) of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 and dated July 6, 2015, regarding the potential unauthorized transmission and storage of classified information on the personal email server of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The FBI’s investigation focused on determining whether classified information was transmitted or stored on unclassified systems in violation of federal criminal statutes and whether classified information was compromised by unauthorized individuals, to include foreign governments or intelligence services, via cyber intrusion or other means.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

However, according to an account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this merely formalized it. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 20, 2015: A federal judge criticizes “the State Department for four years dragging their feet” over their release of some Clinton’s documents.

Judge Richard J. Leon (Credit: Borderland Beat)

Judge Richard J. Leon (Credit: Borderland Beat)

US District Judge Richard J. Leon is responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, mostly relating to Clinton’s daily calendars and schedules, not her emails. (Politico, 7/20/2015Leon says that “even the least ambitious bureaucrat” could process the request faster than the State Department’s efforts. The Associated Press is suing the State Department to release more documents. (Foreign Policy, 7/30/2015)

July 23, 2015: Accounts differ if the FBI has started a criminal investigation into Clinton’s emails.

The New York Times reports that “two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation” into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in Clinton’s emails. (The FBI works for the Justice Department.)

The next day, a Justice Department confirms the report. But later in the day, the Justice Department backs away from its characterization of the referral as “criminal.” (The New York Times, 7/24/2015) (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015) Indeed, such a request was made on July 6, 2015. But technically, the referral is called a “security referral” and not a criminal one.

However, it will later emerge that the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails actually began in late May 2015, thus making the dispute over the type of referral largely a moot point. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 24, 2015: A longtime Clinton advisor says whoever told Clinton she could use a private email should be “drawn and quartered.”

Neera Tanden (Credit: Alchetron)

Neera Tanden (Credit: Alchetron)

Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered? Like whole thing is fucking insane.”

If Podesta gives any answer, it is unknown.

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/27/2016)

July 24, 2015: Many of Clinton’s emails contained classified information when they were sent, not just retroactively.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick issue a joint statement about their inquiry into Clinton’s emails. The statement says that out of a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails, Linick found four emails containing information that should have been classified at the time they were sent. “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to [Intelligence Community] classification officials, that information remains classified today. This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.” (US Department of State, 7/24/2015) 

One email will later be declassified by the State Department, and the department will dispute the classification of another one. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

July 24, 2015: Clinton’s account conflicts with the account of two inspectors general.

Responding to news that several “top secret” documents were found among Clinton’s emails, her campaign says that any government secrets found on the server had been classified after the fact. But the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough write in a joint statement that the information they found was classified when it was sent and remains so now. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015)

July 25, 2015: Clinton says, “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.”

This is a shift from previous statements where she claimed her emails didn’t contain any classified material at all. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) Clinton also says that very few issues have emerged in her publicly released emails so far. “We’re talking about four or fewer.” However, the Wall Street Journal notes, “The inspector general has reviewed only about 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, though, suggesting that more secret or top-secret information could be found in the thousands… that remain.” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2015)

July 29, 2015: Former Naval Reserve Commander Bryan Nishimura pleads guilty to transferring classified data from a government computer to a personal computer.

150729BryanNishimuraZeroHedge

Bryan Nishimura (Credit: Zero Hedge)

He is sentenced to two years probation and a $7,500 fine. He obtained a large amount of classified data and satellite imagery while serving in Afghanistan in 2007 and then brought it home in 2008. He apparently simply kept the information for himself, as he had a reputation for collecting things. He also destroyed evidence when he was investigated in 2012. (The Sacramento Bee, 7/29/2015)

July 29, 2015: Congressional Republicans are increasingly concerned about Clinton’s lawyer possessing her emails.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Senator Ron Johnson (R), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a letter to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall. He asks him what he’s done to “safeguard the classified material in (his) possession,” meaning a thumb drive containing Clinton’s emails.

Bradley Moss, a lawyer who handles national security information, comments: “As a general rule, private non-government individuals, even those maintaining a security clearance, are not authorized to privately store classified information. […] I’m not aware of any other private lawyer who has a clearance being allowed to do what is being permitted here.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/30/2015) 

The FBI will finally take all the copies of the emails from Kendall on August 6, 2015.

July 31, 2015: Clinton’s lawyer is asked to turn over his copies of Clinton’s emails.

A typical thumb drive, a.k.a. USB Drive (Credit: Tech Target)

A typical thumb drive, a.k.a. USB Drive (Credit: Tech Target)

On July 31, 2015, a Justice Department prosecutor calls Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall seeking a thumb drive that contained a copy of the 30,000 emails that Clinton had already turned over to the State Department, according to a person briefed about the conversation.

On August 6, 2015, Kendall gives the FBI his thumb drive, as well as two copies. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)