August 2015: A company recommends improving security for Clinton’s server, which is still in use, but the FBI wants no changes.

At some point in August 2015, employees at Datto, Inc., a company that specializes in backing up computer data, realize that a private server they have been backing up belongs to Clinton. The server is being managed by Platte River Networks (PRN), and Datto made the connection after media reports revealed PRN’s role.

According to an unnamed Datto official, due to worries about the “sensitive high profile nature of the data,” Datto then recommends that PRN should upgrade security by adding sophisticated encryption technology to its backup systems.

150801AndyBoianFoxNews

Andy Boian (Credit: Fox News)

PRN spokesperson Andy Boian later acknowledges receiving upgrade requests from Datto, but he says, “It’s not that we ignored them, but the FBI had told us not to change or adjust anything.”

Boian adds, however, the company did not take Datto’s concerns to the FBI.

The newest version of the server is still in use by the Clintons’ personal office at the time, despite being in news headlines since March 2015. (The Washington Post, 10/7/2015)

On August 12, 2015, the FBI takes an older version of the server from PRN’s control. The FBI doesn’t realize Clinton’s emails were moved from the old server to the new one. They eventually will figure this out and take the new server away as well, on October 3, 2015.

August 2015—Spring 2016: Justin Cooper is interviewed by the FBI three times.

Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

Justin Cooper is a former Bill Clinton aide who helped Bryan Pagliano manage Clinton’s private server while Clinton was secretary of state.

In September 2016 Congressional testimony, Cooper will reveal that he was interviewed by the FBI three times as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The first time is in August 2015, the second time is in the fall of 2015, and the third time is in the spring of 2016. He will say he was never offered an immunity deal. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

Cooper appears to have been the first key play in the Clinton email controversy to have been interviewed by the FBI.

August 2015: Secretary of State Powell received two classified emails, but under very different circumstances than Clinton.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: CBS News)

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: CBS News)

Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall writes a letter to the State Department claiming that Clinton’s “use of personal email was consistent with the practices of other secretaries of state.” Kendall points in particular to Colin Powell, who appears to be the only other secretary of state to use a private email account while in office. But Powell had a government email account in addition to private one.

According to the Washington Post, “Powell conducted virtually all of his classified communications on paper or over a State Department computer installed on his desk that was reserved for classified information, according to interviews.” He also had a phone line installed in his office solely to link to his private email account, which he generally used for personal or non-classified communication. The State Department’s inspector general did find that Powell’s personal email account had received two emails from staff that contained “national security information classified at the ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ levels.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) 

It will later come out that the two emails were at the lowest ‘confidential’ level and did not actually contain any intelligence but were classified for other reasons. (ABC News, 3/4/2016)

August 1, 2015—August 7, 2015: The company managing Clinton’s private server learns that another company has been making back-up copies of all the server data in the Internet “cloud” since 2013.

Clinton’s server has been managed by Platte River Networks (PRN) since June 2013. And since that time, PRN has subcontracted Datto, Inc. to make periodic back-ups of all the data on the server. PRN has thought that the back-ups have been only made through a device attached to the server called the Datto SIRIS S2000.

Sam Hickler (Credit: public domain)

Sam Hickler (Credit: public domain)

However, on August 1, 2015, an unnamed PRN employee notices that data from the server was possibly being sent to an off-site Datto location. On August 6, 2015,  Sam Hickler, PRN’s vice president of operations, contacts Datto employee Leif McKinley about this, CCing PRN employees Paul Combetta and Treve Suazo.

McKinley confirms that, due to a misunderstanding, Datto has been making periodic back-ups of the server data through the Internet “cloud” as well as locally through the device. Furthermore, periodic back-ups have been made this way since June 2013.

Treve Suazo (Credit: Platte River Networks)

Treve Suazo (Credit: Platte River Networks)

Suazo, the CEO of PRN, tells Datto on August 6, 2015, that “This is a problem.” This is because the Clinton Executive Services Corp. (CESC), the Clinton family company that hired PRN to manage the server, explicitly stated from the beginning that they didn’t want any remote back-ups to be made. Thus, PRN employees tell Datto not to delete whatever data was stored in the cloud, and instead work to get it back to the control of PRN.

On August 7, 2015, Datto and PRN employees discuss saving the data on a thumb drive and sending it to PRN. Then, according to an email from one unnamed PRN employee to another, they would have Datto “wipe [the data] from the cloud.”

This is according to a letter that will be sent in October 5, 2015 to Datto CEO Austin McChord by Senator Ron Johnson (R). Johnson is chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and is conducting oversight of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. However, Johnson will be unable to determine what happened next, such as if the thumb drive was sent and the data was wiped. Furthermore, McChord will not be able to reveal that information to Johnson because Datto needs PRN’s permission to share that information and PRN won’t give it. (US Congress, 9/12/2016) (US Congress, 9/12/2016)

August 2, 2015: Tyler Drumheller, a former CIA officer, dies at 63 years of age of pancreatic cancer.

Tyler Drumheller (Credit: C-Span)

Tyler Drumheller (Credit: C-Span)

Although Drumheller retired from the CIA in 2005 after 25 years of service, he seems to have had access to intelligence information that got passed on to Clinton through emails sent to her by private citizen Sid Blumenthal. Drumheller and Blumenthal were business partners at least in 2011, and there are suspicions that during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Blumenthal essentially ran a private intelligence service for Clinton using information from Drumheller. (The New York Times, 8/2/2015)

John Schindler, a former NSA counterintelligence officer, will later claim that Drumheller “was never particularly popular at CIA and he left Langley under something of a cloud. His emails to Mr. Blumenthal, which were forwarded to Ms. Clinton, were filled with espionage-flavored information about events in Libya. In many cases, Mr. Drumheller’s reports were formatted to look exactly like actual CIA reports, including attribution to named foreign intelligence agencies. How much of this was factual versus Mr. Drumheller embellishing his connections is unclear.” Schindler adds that answers to questions about Drumheller’s role may never be known due to his death. (The New York Observer, 10/19/2015)

August 6, 2015: Clinton’s lawyers give the FBI a thumb drive containing over 30,000 Clinton work-related emails.

Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, gives the FBI a thumb drive which has a .pst file containing 30,524 emails. On December 5, 2014, Clinton’s lawyers gave the State Department 30,490 emails, sorted to be all of Clinton’s work-related emails. It isn’t clear why there is a 34 email difference.

On July 31, 2016, the Justice Department asked Kendall to turn over his thumb drive.

Clinton lawyer Heather Samuelson put the .pst file on a thumb drive and gave it to Kendall around the above-mentioned December 5, 2014 date. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

August 7, 2015: The State Department is ordered to release more Clinton documents.

US District Judge Richard J. Leon sets a stringent schedule for the department to provide the Associated Press with the documents they requested in a lawsuit over the next eight months. The order issued by Leon does not include the over 30,000 Clinton emails the State Department has already scheduled to be released in the Leopold case, nor does it include the 20 boxes given to the State Department by Philippe Reines, a former Clinton senior adviser. The documents include thousands of pages of Clinton’s calendars and schedules. (The Associated Press, 8/7/2015)

August 8, 2015 and Shortly Thereafter: The company that manages Clinton’s server gives a presentation to Congressional investigators but fails to mention the deletion and wiping of Clinton’s emails.

Senator Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

Senator Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. On August 8, 2015, Senator Ron Johnson (R), chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, asks PRN for a staff-level briefing on the server. A July 2016 letter co-written by Johnson will indicate that there was an “initial production” by PRN later in August 2015 about various matters, “including maintaining Secretary Clinton’s private server.” (US Congress, 7/22/2016) (Politico, 11/13/2015)

However, it seems apparent that PRN says nothing about the later-revealed fact that PRN employee Paul Combetta deleted and wiped all of Clinton’s emails off her server in late March 2015,  because Johnson will show no knowledge of that in the above-mentioned letter or other letters. Furthermore, in September 2015, PRN will publicly state that it has no knowledge of the server being wiped.

Furthermore, when the FBI picks up Clinton’s server from a data center in New Jersey on August 12, 2015, they only pick up one server. But actually there are two servers there, both being managed by PRN, and Clinton’s emails had been transferred from the old one to the new one. The FBI will discover this on their own and pick up the newer server as well on October 3, 2015, so it seems probable that PRN is not honest with the Congressional committee about this basic fact either.

Additionally, when Johnson’s committee asks to interview PRN employees one month later, the company will refuse and will cease cooperating with Congressional investigators.

 

August 8, 2015: Clinton is “not in the same place” as her top aides regarding her email controversy.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign, writes in an email that gets sent to over a dozen top Clinton aides, “As you all know, I had hoped that we could use the ‘server moment’ as an opportunity for her [Clinton] to be viewed as having taken a big step to deal with the email problem that would best position us for what is ahead. It is clear that she is not in same place…” (WikiLeaks,  10/10/2016)

The “server moment” refers to Clinton turning over one of her private email servers to the FBI, which takes place on August 12, 2015. The Associated Press will later note, “At the time, the political aides were working out details of revealing that Clinton had directed her staff to hand over her server… Palmieri was writing other campaign aides to arrange for a Univision reporter to ask ‘a few questions on emails’ during an interview that would otherwise focus on college affordability.” (The Associated Press, 10/11/2016)

Other aides taking part in the email chain include Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson; Nick Merrill, David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, Robby Mook, Brian Fallon, Jake Sullivan, Katherine Turner, and John Podesta – but not Clinton. The email will later become public due to WikiLeaks publishing Podesta’s emails. (WikiLeaks,  10/10/2016)

It seems likely the dispute is due to Clinton not wanting to apologize for her behavior that caused her email controversy. She finally will apologize in early September 2015, but it will be reported she did so only reluctantly and after great pressure from supporters and aides.

Clinton will be interviewed by Univision four days after Palmieri’s email, and she will be asked several questions about her emails. However, she won’t give any apologetic answers. (Univision, 8/12/2016)

August 8, 2015: A former State Department official is “stunned” by Clinton’s use of a private email for government work.

William Johnson, who was in the department from 1999 to 2011, tells the New York Times, “I was stunned to see that [Clinton] didn’t use the State Department system for State Department business, as we were always told we had to do. If I’d done that, I’d be out on bond right now.” He says someone should be punished—if not Clinton, then officials whose job was to safeguard secrets and preserve public records. (The New York Times)

August 8, 2015: The former director of the US government’s Information Security Oversight Office says he is dismayed by Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account while she was secretary of state.

J. William Leonard (Credit: Mike Oliver / The First Amendment Center)

J. William Leonard (Credit: Mike Oliver / The First Amendment Center)

J. William Leonard asserts that the State Department has an obligation to monitor unclassified email for classified spillage, as well as to protect computer systems and provide emails to Congress or the public when required to by law. He says, “The agency can’t fulfill those legal responsibilities if it doesn’t have control over the server.” (The New York Times)

August 8, 2015: Clinton writes under oath that she has provided the State Department all of her work-related emails that were on her personal email account she used while secretary of state.

Her short statement includes this sentence: “I have directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.”

150808HillaryOath

A sample of the document Clinton signed on August 8, 2015. (Credit: Politico)

That statement is a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department. Additionally, Clinton mentions in her statement that her top aide Huma Abedin also had an email account on her clintonemail.com server that “was used at times for government business,” but another top aide, Cheryl Mills, did not. (The New York Times, 8/10/2015) (Politico, 8/8/2015)

One month later, some more of Clinton’s work emails from her time as secretary of state will be discovered by the Defense Department. (The New York Times, 9/25/2015)

August 11, 2015: The State Department won’t reveal which Clinton aides used her private server or other non-government accounts.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

In March 2015, the House Benghazi Committee subpoenaed records, including work-related emails from personal accounts, from ten former Clinton aides, for a two-year period surrounding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. The State Department then asked those ten people for their records. It is known that four of the aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—have turned over records, including from personal email accounts. However, it is not known what happened with the other six, or even who they are.

Clinton wrote in a sworn affidavit on August 6, 2015 that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s private server and that Mills did not. Otherwise, department officials and Clinton’s staff have failed to reveal who else had an email account on Clinton’s server or even which other aides had any kind of personal email account.

The Intelligence Community inspector general’s office says it is not currently involved in any inquiry into Clinton’s former top aides because it is being denied full access to the aides’ emails by the State Department.

The media outlet Gawker is suing for access to Reines’ emails. Bradley Moss, a lawyer for Gawker, says: “I think the headline is that there’s nothing but murkiness and non-answers from the State Department. I think the State Department is figuring this out as it goes along, which is exactly why no one should be using personal email to conduct government business.”  (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)

August 11, 2015: One Clinton investigation has expanded to investigate Clinton’s top aides.

The State Department inspector general’s office says it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides, after requests from Congress. In March 2015, three Republican Senate committee chairs—Richard Burr, Ron Johnson, and Bob Corker—requested an audit of some of her aides’ personal emails.

Douglas Welty, a spokesperson for the inspector general’s office, says, “We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.” However, the office won’t say which aides are being investigated.  (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)

August 11, 2015: Secretary of State John Kerry suggests the Russian and Chinese governments could be reading his email.

Secretary of State John Kerry (Credit: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Secretary of State John Kerry (Credit: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Discussing this possibility, Kerry says, “It is very likely. It is not outside the realm of possibility, and we know they have attacked a number of American interests over the course of the last few days.” He adds that given the number of recent cyber attacks, he “certainly writes things with that awareness.” (Time, 8/12/2015)

August 11, 2015: Clinton finally agrees to allow the Justice Department to investigate her private server, as well as thumb drives housing her work emails.

This comes after months of her refusing to hand it over. (The New York Times, 8/11/2015The old server is picked up by the FBI from the management of Platte River Networks (PRN) one day later. It is being kept at an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and it is picked up there.

However, the company transferred Clinton’s data to a new server, which is also being managed by PRN and is kept at the same data center. The FBI won’t pick up that one until October 2015.

August 11, 2015: Two out of a random sample of 40 Clinton emails are retroactively deemed “top secret.”

The email sample was examined by the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community. Those two emails were not marked as classified at the time, but were given classified labels indicating they contain highly sensitive information from signal intercepts and spy satellites. One is a discussion of a news article about a drone strike operation. The other concerns North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, 8/11/2015) (The New York Times, 9/7/2015) 

One of the two emails is said to be designated “TOP SECRET//SI//TK/NOFORN.” “SI” stands for “special intelligence,” and usually indicates an intercepted communication. “TK” is an abbreviation for “Talent Keyhole,” which the New York Times reports “relies on satellite intercepts of conversations or imagery data. The program involves some of the most secure information in the intelligence agencies’ computer systems.” “NOFORN” means no foreigners should read the intelligence. (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)

In February 2016, the email about North Korea, written July 3, 2009, will be downgraded from “top secret” to “secret” and then partially released. This will leave one of the random sample of 40 emails “top secret.” All that is known about it is that it is from 2011. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

August 12, 2015: The company managing Clinton’s private server is worried they will be blamed for a change of policy that results in the deletion of Clinton’s emails.

Platte River Networks (PRN) has been managing Clinton’s private email server. According to a New York Post article in September 2016, around August 2015, PRN wants to double check their behavior after media reports that the FBI is investigating Clinton’s server. “Company execs scrambled to find proof that Clinton’s reps had months earlier asked to cut the retention of emails from 60 days to 30 days.”

Paul Combetta (left) Bill Thornton (right) (Credit: AP)

Paul Combetta (left) Bill Thornton (right) (Credit: AP)

On August 12, 2015, PRN employee Bill Thornton writes, “OK, we may want to work with our attorneys to draft up something that absolves us of that question. I can only assume that will be the first and last question for us, ‘Why did we have backups of the system since the time of inception, then decide to cut them back to just 60 or 30 days?’ If we can get that from them in writing, I would feel a whole lot better about this.”

The other PRN employee who has been actively managing the Clinton account with Thornton, Bill Combetta, responds that he believes the request was made to PRN by phone.

An email exchange between the two on the same topic several days later will make clear that the Clinton representatives are employees of Clinton Executive Services Corp. (CESC) the Clinton family company that has been paying PRN. (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)

August 12, 2015: The FBI picks up one of Clinton’s private email servers, as well as thumb drives containing copies of her emails.

An inside look at one Equinix’s many data centers across the United States. (Credit: Equinix)

The Washington Post reports that Clinton’s old server, which was in a New Jersey data center, had all its data deleted some time earlier.

A lawyer for Platte River Networks, the company that managed the server, says, “To my knowledge, the data on the old server is not available now on any servers or devices in Platte River Network’s control.”

Investigators also take thumb drives from Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall containing copies of Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 8/12/2015) 

There are two Clinton servers in existence at the time, and both the old and new ones are located at the Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

However, a September 2016 FBI report will explain that Clinton’s lawyers never revealed that Clinton’s emails had once been transferred from the old server to the new server, so the FBI only picks up the old server. The FBI will later learn on its own about the transfer and then pick up the new server as well, on October 3, 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

August 12, 2015: Clinton’s communications director claims the FBI’s Clinton investigation is “nonsense.”

Jen Palmieri (Credit: MSNBC)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: MSNBC)

In a mass email sent to Clinton supporters, Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri says that investigations by the FBI and other government agencies into Clinton’s use of a private email account and private server are partisan attacks “designed to do political damage to Hillary in the run-up to the election.”

Palmieri claims that that Clinton is not facing a criminal investigation. “The bottom line: This kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president. We know it, Hillary knows it, and we expect it to continue from now until Election Day.” (The Chicago Tribune, 8/12/2015)

After August 12, 2015: The FBI recovers some of Clinton’s deleted emails.

In March 2016, the Los Angeles Times will report that some time after the FBI took possession of Clinton’s private server on August 12, 2015, the FBI “has since recovered most, if not all, of the deleted correspondence, said a person familiar with the investigation.” Clinton deleted 31,830 emails, claiming they were not work-related. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)

In a September 2016 FBI report, it will turn out that the FBI was able to recover about 17,500 of the deleted emails.

August 13, 2015: “The FBI is seeking to determine whether data from [Clinton’s] private email server may still exist elsewhere.”

Matt Devost (Credit: Twitter)

Matt Devost (Credit: Twitter)

This is according to Bloomberg News, based on information from an unnamed US official. The data may have been backed up on another machine. Peter Toren, a former computer crimes prosecutor for the Justice Department, says Clinton didn’t use a private server “because it was convenient for her. There’s a ton of email services that are available that are actually quite secure, easy to use, and you can use them on every device.” (Bloomberg News, 8/13/2015)

Security expert Matt Devost similarly comments that when it comes to a private server like Clinton’s, “You erase it and everything’s gone,” while commercial email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail retain copies even after users erase them from their inboxes, which could be why Clinton didn’t use them for her email account. (Bloomberg News, 3/4/2015)

However, many of Clinton’s top aides did use commercial email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, and the FBI could find copies of some of Clinton’s emails by asking those companies to check their back-up copies. (Bloomberg News, 8/13/2015)

August 14, 2015: Clinton jokes about her emails at a campaign event.

Clinton speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding on Friday, August 14, 2015 (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding on Friday, August 14, 2015 (Credit: ABC News)

At a fund-raising dinner in Clear Lake, Iowa, Clinton jokes, “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015) 

Later in the month, a New York Times article on Democratic politicians who worry about the email scandal notes, “many say, her repeated jokes and dismissive remarks on the email controversy suggest that she is not treating it seriously enough.” (The New York Times, 8/27/2015)

August 14, 2015: The Washington Post reports, “The issues around Clinton’s emails have… intensified as it has become clear that a number of her statements defending her actions now appear to be false.”

For instance, Clinton has said multiple time that she never sent or received any emails containing information that was classified at the time. However, when Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough examined a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails, two were found that contained “top secret” classified information, even though they were not explicitly labeled as such. Months earlier, Clinton claimed that she “did not send classified material” at all. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

August 14, 2015: Clinton’s campaign team is feeling increasingly anxious about her email scandal.

For instance, the Washington Post reports that one unnamed “longtime Clinton adviser and confidant” says, “They’re worried about it. They don’t know where it goes. That’s the problem.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

August 14, 2015: Two Members of Congress incorrectly claim that none of Clinton’s emails deemed to contain classified information were written by Clinton.

Senator Diane Feinstein (Credit: The Associated Press)

Senator Diane Feinstein (Credit: The Associated Press)

This is according to Representative Adam Schiff and Senate Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats and ranking Intelligence Committee members. Schiff adds, “I think the fact that some staff of the Department of State may have sent the secretary some emails not marked as classified is going to prove to be of very minor significance.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) 

However, in February 2016, it will be revealed that 104 of the emails later deemed classified were written by Clinton herself. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

August 14, 2015: Clinton’s top two aides also used private email accounts for government work.

State Department official John F. Hackett reveals to a federal judge that two of Clinton’s aides “used personal email accounts located on commercial servers at times for government business.” Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills had a Google Gmail account, and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin had an account on the same clintonemail.com private server used by Clinton. (The Washington Times, 8/14/2015

Clinton has argued that 90% or more of her emails would have been archived by the State Department since she communicated mostly with other State Department employees. But in fact less than one percent of emails were archived by the department during her tenure there, and she emailed Mills and Abedin more than anyone else. (The Washington Post, 11/9/2015)

August 14, 2015: The head of the US government’s National Archives says Clinton should have recognized classified information and shouldn’t have used a private server.

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick, who heads the Information Security Oversight Office in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), says that government agencies train officials with security clearances to spot sensitive material and then to look up the proper classifications, such as “confidential,” “secret” or “top secret.”

“If you write an email, you are expected to distinguish the classified from the unclassified. If you say ‘the CIA reports’ something—writing that sentence should set off alarm bells.” However, Fitzpatrick says that issue is somewhat academic given that Clinton had all her emails on a private server. “The rules require conducting any official business on an official system. There are many reasons for that—including assuring the security of the information, regardless of its classification. There is no argument to have those conversations in a private email.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

August 14, 2015: The FBI is trying to find out if foreign countries, especially China or Russia, broke into Clinton’s private server.

The New York Times reports that according to several unnamed US officials, “specially trained cybersecurity investigators will seek to determine whether Russian, Chinese, or other hackers breached the account or tried to transfer any of Mrs. Clinton’s emails…” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)

August 15, 2015: Bob Baer claims news that at least one of Clinton’s emails has been deemed “top secret” is a “deal breaker” for her presidential candidacy.

Bob Baer (Credit: Midnight Watcher)

Bob Baer (Credit: Midnight Watcher)

Baer, who is a former CIA operative and now works as a CNN national security analyst, says, “If this was on her server and got into her smartphone, there’s a big problem there. Seriously, if I had sent a document like this over the open Internet, I’d get fired the same day, escorted to the door, gone for good, and probably charged with mishandling classified information. […] I can’t tell you how bad this is. A lot of things get talked about, a lot of gossip, but having documents like this sent across the Internet, it could be hacked very easily and probably were hacked, is a transgression that I don’t think the president of the United States should be allowed to have committed.” (CNN, 8/18/2015) (The Daily Caller, 8/15/2015)

August 17, 2015: A State Department official tells the FBI about 1,000 previously unknown emails between Clinton and David Petraeus.

Obama announces that he will nominate current CIA Director Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, Gen. David Petraeus as the next director of the CIA on April 11, 2011. (Credit: CNN)

Obama announces that he will nominate current CIA Director Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, and General David Petraeus as the next director of the CIA on April 11, 2011. (Credit: CNN)

An unnamed State Department official who works in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) is interviewed by the FBI on this day. According to a later FBI summary of the interview, she claims that around August 10, 2015, just a week before the interview, “[redacted] from Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) called [her] and told her Centcom records showed approximately 1,000 work-related emails between Clinton’s personal email and General David Petraeus, former commander of Centcom and former director of the CIA. Most of those 1,000 emails were not believed to be included in the 30,000 emails that IPS was reviewing. Out of the 30,000 emails, IPS only had a few emails from or related to Petraeus…” She “recommended the FBI should talk with [redacted] regarding the alleged 1,000 emails between Clinton and Petraeus.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

On September 25, 2015, the New York Times will report on the existence of 19 work-related emails between Clinton and Petraeus sent in January 2009 that were not turned over when Clinton gave what she said was all her 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department in December 2014. Since that time, neither these 19 emails nor any other of the alleged 1,000 emails between them have been made public.

August 17, 2015: The company that recently managed Clinton’s private server, says it is “highly likely” that a backup copy of the server was made.

The Datto logo (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

The Datto logo (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

That company is Platte River Networks (PRN), which managed her server from mid-2013 until early August 2015. The company is cooperating with the FBI.

That means that any emails Clinton deleted before she handed the server over to investigators may still be accessible. (Business Insider, 8/17/2015)

The mention of a backup copy of the server could be a reference to Datto, Inc., a company that made backups of Clinton’s server while it was in Platte River’s possession. (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)

August 17, 2015: The State Department finds thousands of emails of a Clinton aide after claiming they had none.

Philippe Reines (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

Philippe Reines (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

In 2012, the news website Gawker filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to get the emails between key Clinton aide Philippe Reines and numerous journalists. Reines was Senior Advisor and Press Secretary for Clinton while she was secretary of state.

However, even though a key part of Reines’ job was emailing journalists, the State Department responded in 2013 that “no records responsive to your request were located.”

Then, after more legal action, on August 17, 2015, the State Department says they found 17,855 emails between Reines and the journalists, which they promise to hand over.

It turns out that, like Clinton, Reines exclusively used a private email for his government work, and, like Clinton, this meant no records were found in any requests for his emails. (US News and World Report, 8/17/2015) (Gawker, 3/3/2015)

August 17, 2015: A former State Department official claims Clinton is being given special treatment for her email scandal.

Peter van Buren (Credit: Burenwemeantwell)

Peter van Buren (Credit: Burenwemeantwell)

Peter van Buren was a department diplomat until he was fired in 2012 during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. He says, “I cannot conceive any other person in government being able to do what she did without being punished,” he says. Van Buren was fired for linking to WikiLeaks on his personal blog and other charges. But he claims he was punished for being a whistleblower and criticizing Clinton.

After a legal battle, the State Department withdrew their charges against him and he was able to retire with a full pension and benefits. (US News and World Report, 8/17/2015(The Washington Post, 3/14/2012)

August 18, 2015: Clinton’s private server has recently been managed by a surprisingly small company with no special security features.

The door to the apartment where Platte River Networks was based until mid-2015. (Credit: Matthew Jonas - The Daily Mail)

The door to the apartment where PRN was based until mid-2015. (Credit: Matthew Jonas – The Daily Mail)

Platte River Networks (PRN) managed Clinton’s server from June 2013 until early August 2015. Former employee Tera Dadiotis calls it a “mom and pop shop.” She adds, “At the time I worked for them they wouldn’t have been equipped to work for Hilary Clinton because I don’t think they had the resources… [It was] not very high security, we didn’t even have an alarm. […] [W]e literally had our server racks in the bathroom. […] We only had the three owners and like eight employees. We didn’t do any work in other states.” PRN’s facility was a 1,900 square foot apartment in an ordinary apartment building until it moved into a larger space in June 2015. (The Daily Mail, 8/18/2015)

However, the security of PRN’s offfice may not have been directly relevant to Clinton’s server, because a 2016 FBI report will give no indication that her server was ever physically located at the office. It was put in an Equinix data center in New Jersey instead, and mostly managed remotely by PRN. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

PRN also has ties to prominent Democrats. For instance, the company’s vice president of sales David DeCamillis is said to be a prominent supporter of Democratic politicians. He once offered to let Senator Joe Biden (D) stay in his house in 2008, not long before Biden became Obama’s vice president. The company also has done work for John Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor of Colorado.

Another former employee says everyone was told to keep quiet about the fact they were doing work for Clinton. (The Daily Mail, 8/18/2015)

August 18, 2015: Clinton says her use of a private email server is “nothing to worry about.”

Clinton checking her BlackBerry while on an elevator at the US Capitol, on January 7, 2009. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton checking her BlackBerry while on an elevator at the US Capitol, on January 7, 2009. (Credit: Getty Images)

She adds, “This will burn itself out. It’s being turned into a partisan attack connected, unfortunately, with the continuing Republican partisanship over Benghazi, which was a great tragedy and has already been investigated from one side to the other.” (NBC News, 8/19/2015)

August 18, 2015: Clinton says her email scandal is largely a debate between government agencies over classification protocols.

In a press conference, she claims, “This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with the fact that my account was personal. It’s the process by which the government, and sometimes in disagreement between various agencies of the government, make decisions about what can and cannot be disclosed.” (The Guardian, 9/9/2015)

August 18, 2015: Clinton claims not to know what wiping computer data is.

Clinton making a joking wipe gesture while speaking at a town hall on August 18, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

Clinton making a joking wipe gesture while speaking at a town hall on August 18, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

When asked by a reporter if her private email had been wiped, Clinton replies with a joke, “What—like with a cloth, or something?” Then she says she doesn’t “know how it works digitally at all.” (Business Insiders, 8/18/2015) 

“Wiping” means repeatedly overwriting data with other data to make sure it can never be recovered.

The next month, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will also claim ignorance: “I don’t know what ‘wiped’ means. Literally the emails were deleted off of the server, that’s true.” (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)

August 18, 2015: Colin Powell suggests everything Clinton touches “she kinda screws up with hubris.”

Jeffrey Leeds (Credit: Leeds Equity Partners)

Jeffrey Leeds (Credit: Leeds Equity Partners)

An email dated August 18, 2015, where Powell expresses to Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds that Clinton’s email problems show how capable she is of causing problems for herself, as well as for others and their email usage. “They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin’ record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine. … Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” (Washington Post, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

 

 

August 19, 2015: An employee at the company managing Clinton’s private email server expresses concerns of a cover-up.

Platte River Networks (PRN) has managed Clinton’s server since June 2013. Furthermore, PRN subcontracted with Datto, Inc. to make periodic back-ups of the server’s data. It has been claimed that Clinton Executive Service Corp. (CESC), the Clinton family company that hired PRN in June 2013, always made clear that there should be a 30-day deletion policy for the Datto back-up of the server. That means that any deleted email would be permanently deleted after 30 days.

However, an August 18, 2015 email from one PRN employee, Paul Combetta, to another, Bill Thornton, suggests the implementation of this policy actually happened later. Combetta believes that CESC directed PRN to reduce the length of time backups, but “this was all phone comms [communications].”

Thorton replies the next day. The email has the subject heading “CESC Datto.” He writes, “Any chance you found an old email with their directive to cut the backup back in Oct-Feb. I know they had you cut it once in Oct-Nov, then again to 30 days in Feb-ish.” (Presumably this refers to October 2014 through February 2015.) 

Paul Combetta (left) and Bill Thornton (right) are the two PRN employees with access to the Clinton server. (Credit: public domain)

Paul Combetta (left) and Bill Thornton (right) are the two PRN employees with access to the Clinton server. (Credit: public domain)

Thornton continues, “If we had that email, then we’re golden. … Wondering how we can sneak an email in now after the fact asking them when they told us to cut the backups and have them confirm it for our records. Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shady shit. I just think if we have it in writing that they [CESC] told us to cut the backups, and we can go public with our statement saying we have had backups since day one, then we were told to trim to 30 days, it would make us look a WHOLE LOT better.” (Politico, 10/6/2015) (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)  (US Congress, 9/12/2016) (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)

Combetta replies, “I’ll look again, but I’m almost positive we don’t have anything about the 60 day cut. … It’s up to lawyer crap now, so just sit back and enjoy the silly headlines.”

Then, seemingly without any prompting, Combetta makes some comments supportive of Clinton’s position in her email controversy: “It wasn’t the law to be required to use government email servers at the State Department, believe it or not. Colin Powell used an AOL address for communicating with his staff, believe it or not.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2016)

It’s not clear when the deletion policy for the Datto back-up of the server was instituted or changed. But if these employees are correct, the change would have come after Clinton was formally asked to hand over all her emails, which took place in October 2014.

August 19, 2015: Someone tried to wipe Clinton’s email server, but the FBI might recover the data anyway.

Clinton’s campaign has acknowledged “that there was an attempt to wipe [Clinton’s private] server before it was turned over last week to the FBI. But two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News… that the [FBI] may be able to recover at least some data.” (NBC News, 8/19/2015) 

“Wiping” refers to repeatedly overwriting data with new data to make sure it can never be recovered. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)

In 2016, it be revealed that Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks, the company managing Clinton’s private server, deleted and then wiped Clinton’s emails in March 2015.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s lawyer and former chief of staff, will be interviewed by the FBI in April 2016 and will claim that she never knew Clinton’s emails were deleted or wiped, even though she was in communcation with Combetta shortly before and after when he did the deleting and wiping. Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, and will similarly claim that she never knew her emails were deleted orr wiped.

August 19, 2015: Former CIA and NSA director Hayden says Clinton’s behavior was “stupid,” “dangerous,” and probably illegal.

Michael Hayden, who was appointed director of the NSA by President Bill Clinton and then director of the CIA by President George W. Bush, says that Hillary Clinton’s “original sin is actually co-mingling [her] two accounts and not using a government e-mail server. […] [P]ut legality aside just for a second, it’s stupid and dangerous. […] Dangerous to her and to the Republic and to American secrets. But… I don’t even think it was legal. That has to be against policy. Look, most folks like me, I never had a smart phone until I left government because of the sensitivity of the information I would put on there even if it were unclassified.” (MSNBC, 8/19/2015)

August 19, 2015: Nobody in the company that managed Clinton’s private email server had any government security clearances.

A generic photo of a relatively low-cost server rack. (Credit: rackmountsolutions)

A generic photo of a relatively low-cost server rack. (Credit: rackmountsolutions)

Platte River Networks is a small Colorado-based technology company, and they managed Clinton’s server from mid-2013 to early August 2015. They had never had a federal government contract and did not work for political campaigns. Nearly all their clients are local businesses. David DeCamillis, the company’s vice president of sales, says that if they’d had any clue what might have resulted from accepting the contract, “we would never have taken it on.” (The Washington Post, 8/19/2016) 

Furthermore, Cindy McGovern, a Defense Department spokesperson, says that Platte River “is not cleared” to have access to classified material. (Business Insider, 8/17/2015) 

Cybersecurity expert Alex McGeorge believes that if classified information was mishandled, the onus is on Clinton, not on the company. “The fact that Platte River is not a cleared contractor is largely irrelevant, [since] they were handling what should have been unclassified email. That classified email may have been received by a server under their control is troubling, and they may have been less equipped to deal with it, but it is ultimately not their fault.” (Business Insider, 8/19/2016)

August 19, 2015: Clinton publicly claims that the investigations about her server “has nothing to do with me.”

She contradicts her own State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick by reiterating that she never sent or received classified material. She says, “what I did was legally permitted.” She calls the current controversy nothing more than a ‘disagreement between agencies.” (The Guardian, 8/19/2015)

August 19, 2015: The State Department tells a judge that Clinton did not use a State Department issued or secure BlackBerry device.

Clinton checks her BlackBerry next to South Korea's foreign minister in Busan, South Korea, on November 30, 2011. (Credit: Saul Loeb / The Associated Press)

Clinton checks her BlackBerry next to South Korea’s foreign minister in Busan, South Korea, on November 30, 2011. (Credit: Saul Loeb / The Associated Press)

Furthermore, when Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin left the State Department, their BlackBerrys were likely destroyed after they were returned to the government, since they were outdated models by that time. (Judicial Watch, 8/19/2015)

August 19, 2015: Clinton’s lawyer claims that all data, including Clinton’s emails, was erased from her server before it was turned over to the FBI.

150819ClintonTurnerKendallGetty

David Kendall (right) and Katherine Turner (left) sit behind Clinton during her testimony to the Benghazi committee on October 23, 2015. (Credit: Getty Images)

Lawyer David Kendall tells this to the Senate Homeland Security committee. He adds that both he and his office partner lawyer Katherine Turner had been given security clearances to handle a thumb drive containing some of Clinton’s emails, but he doesn’t say when. His comments don’t clarify if Clinton’s server was wiped or merely erased.

“Wiping” means that new data is written over the old data several times to make sure it can never be recovered. (The Guardian, 8/19/2015)

August 20, 2015: A federal judge asserts that Clinton violated government policy by storing government emails on her private server.

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan says of Clinton in a court hearing, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy.” He orders the State Department to ask the FBI if Clinton’s server now possessed by the FBI still contains official records that have been demanded in various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits. He says that although the law normally doesn’t allow for searches of private email accounts, this is an unusual situation because “there was a violation of government policy.”

In response, Clinton’s spokesperson Brian Fallon continues to insist that Clinton’s behavior was “permissible under the department’s policy at the time.” (Politico, 8/20/2015)

August 20, 2015: Former CIA Director James Woosley suggests Clinton could have committed a felony.

Former CIA director James Woolsey (Credit: public domain)

Woolsey, who was CIA director from 1993 to 1995 under President Bill Clinton, comments on Clinton’s email scandal: “What is really wrong here was setting up this separate email system and using it for government work. If anybody wants to set one up and use it for yoga appointments, wedding planning, okay, fine. But to have a server in a bathroom closet in Colorado that is dealing with potentially extremely classified material because it is material that is passing through the secretary of state’s conversations with her staff, that’s really very irresponsible. It is a felony. I think and there are some ways of dealing with this, putting something in the wrong place and making a mistake that are only a misdemeanor. But we’ve had now several of my successors in the intelligence business at senior levels plead to charges and be in situations where it is clear they violated the law, around some of those things look very similar to what has happened here.” (Fox News, 8/20/2015)

August 21, 2015: An email reveals that every employee of the company managing Clinton’s private server can access the server through the Internet.

150815PlatteRiverEmployees

PRN grew exponentially in 2015, including a number of new employees. (Credit: Platte River Networks)

Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks (PRN), sends an email to Leif McKinley, an employee of Datto, Inc. PRN is managing Clinton’s private server, and Datto has been subcontracted by PRN to provide back-up for the server. Combetta writes: “We are trying to tighten down every possible security angle on this customer. It occurs to us that anyone at PRN with access to the Datto Partner Portal (i.e. everyone here) could potentially access this device via the remote web feature. Can we set up either two-factor authentication, or move this device to a separate partner account, or some other method (disable remote web access altogether?) to allow only who we permit on our end to access this device via the Internet?” (US Congress, 9/12/2016)

On May 14, 2015, a photo of PRN employees was posted to their website and suggests the number of employees working there at the time to be approximately 28.  (Platte River Networks, 5/14/15)

In September 2016, after the email is publicly released, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will comment, “If I understand the email correctly, every single employee of PRN could have accessed some of the most highly classified national security information that’s ever been breached at the State Department.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

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)