March 2016: The FBI warns the Clinton campaign that it is a target of a hacker attack, but the campaign doesn’t assist the FBI.

160301ClintonFBIpublic

The Clinton campaign logo superimposed over the FBI logo. (Credit: public domain)

This is according to what two unnamed “sources who have been briefed on the matter” will tell Yahoo News in July 2016. FBI officials privately meet with senior Clinton campaign officials and express concern that hackers are using “spear phishing” techniques to access the campaign’s computers. They ask the campaign to turn over internal computer logs and the personal email addresses of top campaign staffers to help the FBI’s investigation. But the campaign declines to do so after deciding the request for personal data is too broad and intrusive. The FBI doesn’t give any mention as to who the hackers might be.

One month later, the campaign will learn on its own that its computers have been hacked and they will use a private cybersecurity company to combat the hackers.

Yahoo News will comment that the FBI’s “warning also could raise new questions about why the campaign and the DNC didn’t take the matter more seriously.”

At the time, the FBI has an active investigation into Clinton’s email usage while she was secretary of state, and Clinton’s campaign isn’t sure how extensive that inquiry is. There have been media reports that the investigation extended into unethical practices at the Clinton Foundation, which could theoretically include interest in more recent communications.

Yahoo News will report that, according to an unnamed internal source, “Campaign officials had reason to fear that any production of campaign computer logs and personal email accounts could be used to further such a probe.” But the FBI insists that its request for data to combat the hacking has no connection to any other investigation, and since there is no subpoena forcing the issue, the Clinton campaign turns down the request. (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)

March 2016: The same hacking group that allegedly breaches the DNC [Democratic National Committee] computer network may also breach computers of some Clinton presidential campaign staffers.

Clinton's Deputy Communications Director, Kristina Schake (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton’s Deputy Communications Director, Kristina Schake (Credit: Getty Images)

The hacker or hacking group is known by the nickname Fancy Bear, and is alleged to be working for the Russian government. Fancy Bear gets into the DNC network in April 2016, which makes it separate from the efforts of Cozy Bear (alleged also to be linked to Russia) or Guccifer 2.0 (alleged to be a “lone hacker”) which in either case got into the network for about a year. Fancy Bear’s attack on Clinton’s staffers is said to start in March 2016, according to the security firm SecureWorks. Targets include Clinton’s communications and travel organizers, speechwriters, policy advisers, and campaign finance managers.

The hackers use the “spear phishing” technique of sending an email from a seemingly trusted source in order to get the target to click on a link. In this case, the links are shortened by an Internet service known as Bitly to make it hard to notice that they’re bogus. They take the target to a fake Google login page, since most or all of Clinton’s staffers use Gmail. Once the target gives their user name and password, the hacker can log into the real account and access all the data. The hackers create 213 links targeting 108 hillaryclinton.com addresses. Twenty of those are clicked, raising the possibility that some accounts are successfully breached. (Forbes, 6/16/2016)

March 2016: The State Department’s internal Clinton email server investigation is put on hold.

The pause happens some unknown time this month, due to the FBI’s investigation taking precedence. A State Department spokesperson says, “Law enforcement comes first,” and “We are prioritizing the law enforcement investigation.” (Bloomberg News, 4/1/2016) Note that this is different from the State Department inspector general’s investigation, which continues.

March 1, 2016: FBI Director James Comey says he is “very close personally” to the Clinton investigation.

Speaking to Congress, Comey comments about the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails. “As you know, we don’t talk about our investigations. What I can assure you is that I am very close personally to that investigation to ensure that we have the resources we need, including people and technology, and that it’s done the way the FBI tries to do all of its work: independently, competently and promptly. That’s our goal, and I’m confident that it’s being done that way, but I can’t give you any more details beyond that.” (The Hill, 3/1/2016) 

These are very similar to comments Comey made on October 22, 2015.

March 2, 2016: Republicans want to leave the investigation of Clinton’s emails to the FBI.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press))

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press))

After public revelations that at least 22 of Clinton’s emails were marked “top secret,” Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says in an interview that he’s considering opening an investigation on whether Clinton compromised national security.

However, later in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) have a private meeting with Chaffetz. They tell him that Republican leaders have made a “collective decision” that anything related to the Clinton email scandal is “best left to the FBI.” The only exception is the on-going House Benghazi Committee investigation. (The Washington Post, 3/4/2016)

March 2, 2016: It is reported Clinton’s former computer technician has made an immunity deal.

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

It is reported that Bryan Pagliano, a former Clinton staffer who helped set up her private email server, has accepted an immunity deal from the FBI and the Justice Department.

In September 2015, Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee. He managed the server from 2008 until mid-2013. He actually started secretly cooperating with investigators in late 2015. The Clinton campaign claims they are “pleased” Pagliano is finally cooperating with prosecutors. (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016) 

The next day, Congressional Republicans say they want to interview Pagliano, since the deal means his Fifth Amendment pledge is no longer applicable. They also want to see the exact terms of the deal. (The Associated Press, 3/3/2016)

March 2, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is looking into retyping of classified information.

The New York Times reports that FBI agents investigating Clinton’s emails “have sought to compare electronic timestamps on classified sources to figure out whether [her] aides reviewed the sources and then retyped the information into emails that were sent or forwarded to Mrs. Clinton’s private server. That has proved challenging, and one official said investigators have not concluded that such retyping occurred.” (The New York Times, 3/2/2016)

March 2, 2015—March 3, 2015: Clinton’s campaign manager privately says “We brought up the existence of [Clinton’s] emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”

John Podesta, left, and Robby Mook meet at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Getty Images)

John Podesta, left, and Robby Mook meet at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Brooks Kraft / Getty Images)

On March 2, 2015, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta emails Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, and asks him, “Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” He is referring to the New York Times front page story from earlier in the day about Clinton exclusively using a private email account while secretary of state.

Mook replies, “Nope. We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”

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

March 2,2016–March 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is focusing on possible crimes.

On March 2, 2016, the Washington Post reports, “The Clinton campaign has described the [FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails] as a security review. But current and former officials in the FBI and at the Justice Department have said investigators are trying to determine whether a crime was committed.” One former senior law enforcement official asks, “There was wrongdoing. But was it criminal wrongdoing?” (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016) 

The next day, CNN similarly reports, “FBI investigators are expected to shift their focus on whether the highly sensitive government information, including top secret and other classified matters, found on Clinton’s private email server constitutes a crime.” (CNN, 3/3/2016)

March 2, 2016–March 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could conclude by May 2016.

The New York Times reports, “A federal law enforcement official said that barring any unforeseen changes, the FBI investigation [into Clinton’s emails] could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom.”

In addition to the FBI investigation, there are continuing inquiries by the State Department inspector general, the Intelligence Community inspector general, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the House Benghazi Committee. There are also numerous on-going lawsuits that could reveal more information to the public. (The New York Times, 3/2/2016)

March 3, 2016: The FBI has the computer security logs from Clinton’s private email server, and they allegedly show no evidence of foreign hacking.

Morgan Wright (Credit: Gov Tech)

Morgan Wright (Credit: Gov Tech)

The logs were given to the FBI by Bryan Pagliano, a Clinton aide who is cooperating with the FBI and who managed Clinton’s server during the time she was secretary of state. However, sophisticated hacking attempts sometimes leave no evidence in the security logs. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016) 

Additionally, cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright will later suggest the server may not have had an adequate detection system. “If you have a bank and you have one video camera when you need 20, then you missed it. If they weren’t capturing all the activity, their security logs may say they didn’t see anything.” (Fox News, 5/7/2016) 

In May 2016, it will emerge that there were hacking attempts on the server during the time Pagliano was managing it, for instance in January 2011. It’s not clear why these attacks didn’t appear on the server logs or why previous media reports of the logs were incorrect. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

Also, it appears there were hacking attempts on the server after June 2013, when Pagliano was no longer involved, but when all of Clinton’s emails were still on the server. (The Associated Press, 10/7/2015)

March 4, 2016: Clinton’s campaign accuses Inspector General Linick of bias without solid evidence; his staffers feel harassed.

Bloomberg News reports that “The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone on the attack against the government official who conducts oversight of the State Department she used to run [Inspector General Steve Linick], accusing him of partisanship and misconduct without any direct evidence.”

However, Linick is a difficult target because he “has never been regarded as a partisan official” and President Obama appointed him. So the attackers are focusing on Emilia DiSanto, who works in his office, and claim that she is influencing him too much. Clinton supporters argue DiSanto is biased against Clinton because she had previously worked as an investigator for Republican Senator Charles Grassley.

Bloomberg News reports that for Linick’s staff, “the accusations are impossible to confront head on because they are not authorized to speak on the record about ongoing investigations.” Furthermore, his office has been “receiving dozens of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests aimed at gathering information on office staffers themselves. Sources in the inspector general office tell me they see the requests and accusations as an attempt to intimidate them and deter them from continuing Clinton-related work.” Bloomberg News concludes, “Accusing Linick’s staffers of misconduct due to their past work affiliations is a slippery slope; tons of government employees have connections on Capitol Hill.” (Bloomberg News, 3/4/2016)

March 4, 2016: A former NSA senior intelligence analyst claims concerns about Clinton’s email account getting hacked misses a bigger threat.

Computers in the White House Situation Room, with a yellow screensaver, indicating they are connected to a TOP SECRET/SCI computer network. (Credit: Screenshot from White House video)

Computers in the White House Situation Room, with a yellow screensaver, indicating they are connected to a TOP SECRET/SCI computer network. (Credit: Screenshot from White House video)

John Schindler, who spent time as the technical director of the NSA’s largest operational division, says that instead of focusing on hacking, foreign governments more often collect signals intelligence, or SIGINT remotely through high-tech means such as spy satellites.

He asserts that “unencrypted IT systems don’t need ‘hacking’—normal SIGINT interception will suffice. Ms. Clinton’s ‘private’ email, which was wholly unencrypted for a time, was incredibly vulnerable to interception, since it was traveling unprotected on normal commercial networks, which is where SIGINT operators lurk, searching for nuggets of gold. They hunt for data with search terms called ‘selectors’—a specific phone number, a chatroom handle, an email address: here Ms. Clinton’s use of the ‘clintonmail.com’ server was the SIGINT equivalent of waving a huge ‘I’m right here’ flag at hostile intelligence services. Since the number of spy agencies worldwide capable of advanced SIGINT operations numbers in the many dozens, with Russia and China in the top five, that Ms. Clinton’s emails wound up in the wrong hands is a very safe bet, as any experienced spy will attest.” (The New York Observer, 3/4/2016)

March 5, 2016: Clinton wrote 104 emails containing classified information.

This is according to a Washington Post analysis of the more than 30,000 released emails on her private server during her time as secretary of state. Clinton has maintained that while some of her emails had classified content, they were emails sent to her. While over 2,000 of those emails are classified, and thus partially or fully redacted, the names of the senders and recipients are given for each, allowing the Post to analyze them. (This does not count the 22 “top secret” emails, or the 19 emails between Clinton and President Obama, since all information about those emails is redacted.)

As secretary of state, Clinton was emailed a lot of information by her aides. Of the classified emails sent by Clinton, in many cases she wrote short commentaries on longer informative emails sent to her. In three-fourths of these 104 emails, at least some of Clinton’s comments were classified.

Clinton argues that these emails are only retroactively classified and there was considerable over classification. The State Department has largely dodged the issue, saying they have only analyzed what content is classified now, not what should have been classified then. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016

At least 46 of the 104 emails contain text classified as “foreign government information,” meaning information from, to, or about foreign governments. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016)

March 5, 2016: An analysis suggests many in the State Department sent classified emails.

The Washington Post publishes an analysis of the 30,490 emails Clinton gave to investigators, now that all of them have been publicly published. (Over 2,000 are partially or fully redacted for containing classified information.) “The analysis [shows] that the practice of using non-secure email systems to send sensitive information was widespread at the department and elsewhere in government.”

In addition to Clinton, about 300 other people wrote classified emails included in all the publicly released emails. The vast majority of US officials sent classified information using their less secure daily government email accounts. While this is not as egregious as Clinton’s use of a private email account, all classified information is supposed to be sent over a separate, highly secure network. The Post comments that their analysis “suggests that either material is being overclassified, as Clinton and her allies have charged, or that classified material is being handled improperly with regularity by government officials at all levels—or some combination of the two.” (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016)

March 5, 2016: Pagliano’s immunity deal suggests a grand jury could already have been convened.

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

CNN’s legal analyst Danny Cevallos suggests the news that the FBI has granted immunity to Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano could mean a grand jury has been convened in the FBI’s Clinton investigation. “The smart bet is yes. After all, the fact that there are immunity agreements logically means there’s a grand jury investigation in some district. The grand jury is typically the genesis of the government’s subpoena power. The next, bigger question, is whether anyone will be indicted. The mere fact that the [Department of Justice] wants to talk to Pagliano does not mean anyone will be indicted. But if [they are] investigating criminal activity, they tend to find criminal activity.”

Cevallos points out that the federal conviction rate is well above 90%. He also suggests that Pagliano may not be out of legal danger, depending on what kind of immunity he was given. (CNN, 3/5/2016) 

Other legal observers have conflicting opinions on the significance of the deal. Criminal defense lawyer Jacob Frenkel says it “raises exponentially the stakes in the investigation. […] This is a significant piece in providing clarity to an otherwise complicated jigsaw puzzle, [but] we do not know exactly where Mr. Pagliano’s finger or fingers will point.” Also, there has been no official sign that a grand jury has been convened. (The Washington Post, 3/3/2016)

March 6, 2016: Clinton insists she is happy that her computer technician has made an immunity deal.

When asked if she believes the deal Bryan Pagliano is good news for her, she replied, “Yeah, I do. Absolutely.”

However, the Washington Post calls the deal “a development that some legal analysts interpreted as an ominous sign for [her].”

Some Democratic politicians have privately expressed concern that it suggests someone is going to get indicted. However, Clinton insists “there is no basis for that,” and she maintains the investigation is a mere “security review.” (The Washington Post, 3/6/2016)

March 9, 2016: Attorney General Lynch shows no interest in the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors.

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (R) asks Attorney General Loretta Lynch if the Justice Department is looking into whether Bill and/or Hillary Clinton took funds from foreign governments while Hillary served as secretary of state. Presumably this refers to the Clinton Foundation, which accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments during that time. Lynch replies, “I’m not aware of any other issue along the lines of what you have outlined.” (Politico, 3/9/2016)

March 9, 2016: Seven Congressional Democrats accuse two inspectors general of politicizing their review of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

A letter addressed to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough is signed by the “ranking Democrats on the House and Senate committees overseeing intelligence, foreign affairs, government operations, Homeland Security and the judiciary.” The letter states, “Already, this review has been too politicized. […] We are relying on you as independent inspectors general to perform your duties dispassionately and comprehensively.”

A spokesperson for Linick rejects the accusations. Linick has released two interim reports about Clinton’s emails and server, and is expected to release a final report in another month or two. (The New York Times, 3/10/2016)

March 9, 2016: Republicans sue for more Clinton-related emails, as well as her text messages.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) files two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits seeking more emails from Clinton and her top aides.

The first lawsuit seeks all emails the State Department has that are to and from Clinton, as well as Clinton’s top aides Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Patrick Kennedy, and Bryan Pagliano. (Huma Abedin isn’t included because she’s covered in another FOIA lawsuit.) The lawsuit is also seeking all of Clinton’s text messages as well as BlackBerry Messenger communications.

The second lawsuit seeks emails between senior State Department officials and Clinton’s 2016 Democratic presidential campaign and its allied entities. The RNC asked the State Department for the emails in October 2015 but hadn’t gotten any yet. RNC chair Reince Priebus says, “The Obama administration has failed to comply with records requests in a timely manner as required by law.” (The Hill, 3/9/2016) 

Although Clinton says she has already turned over all her work-related emails, some more will be found by the State Department due to another limited FOIA lawsuit later in March, suggesting more could be uncovered by the department. (The Hill, 3/24/2016) (ABC News, 3/9/2016)

March 9, 2016: Donald Trump says he would push for an indictment of Clinton.

Trump, the frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, is asked if he would pursue a criminal indictment of Clinton if Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not. Trump replies, “You have to.”

Politico comments, “Trump’s answer conflicts with 40 years of precedent. His suggestion that he would seek an indictment flies in the face of the longstanding practice of limiting White House involvement in the prosecutorial decisions made by an attorney general. (Politico, 3/9/2016)

March 9, 2016: Clinton is confronted about her email scandal during a presidential debate.

Jorge Ramos (Credit: CNN)

Jorge Ramos (Credit: CNN)

Moderator Jorge Ramos asks her if she would quit the presidential race if she is indicted.

Clinton replies, “Oh, for goodness… it’s not going to happen. I’m not even answering that question,” She also says, “I think that what we’ve got here is a case of over-classification. […] I’m not concerned about; I’m not worried about it, and no Democrat or American should be, either.” (The Hill, 3/9/2016)

March 9, 2016: Clinton acknowledges using poor judgment with her email set-up, but maintains she was permitted to use her own server.

During a presidential election debate, Clinton says, “It wasn’t the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed.” She adds, “What you are talking about is retroactive classification, And I think what we have got here is a case of over-classification.”

However, the Washington Post will later note, “Her statement appears to conflict with a report to Congress last year by inspectors general from the State Department and the group of spy agencies known as the Intelligence Community.”

Referring to some classified emails that had been discovered, the report stated, “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.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 11, 2016: Clinton’s former computer technician Pagliano is reportedly giving very useful information to the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Bryan Pagliano struck an immunity deal with the Justice Department in late 2015. According to an unnamed intelligence source, “Pagliano is a devastating witness and, as the webmaster, knows exactly who had access to [Clinton’s] computer and devices at specific times. His importance to this case cannot be over-emphasized.”

This source says Pagliano’s testimony is being used with other evidence to prove there are gaps in the over 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over to investigators. “Don’t forget all those photos with [Clinton] using various devices and it is easy to track the whereabouts of her phone. It still boils down to a paper case. Did you email at this time from your home or elsewhere using this device? And here is a picture of you and your aides holding the devices.”

The investigation is also said to be pursuing other leads, such as emails retroactively classified “top secret” that were sent by Clinton. (Fox News, 3/11/2016)

March 11, 2016: Clinton’s computer technician Pagliano still refuses to testify before Congress.

The Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees want Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano to testify before their committees, especially since it has been reported that he has made an immunity deal with the Justice Department. However, Pagliano’s lawyer sends the committee chairs a letter on this day saying that Pagliano will “respectfully decline” their invitation.

Pagliano pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights when he was asked to speak before the committees in late 2015. The letter says that he still has “not waived his rights under the Fifth Amendment as a matter of fact or law,” regardless of the immunity deal. (The Associated Press, 4/22/2016)

March 12, 2016: Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, appears to leak a debate question to the Clinton campaign in advance.

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”

Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.

Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)

March 14, 2016: A State Department official is refusing to answer questions about Clinton’s private server.

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

It is reported that Senate Republicans have been trying to interview John Bentel since December 2015. Bentel was the director of Information Resources Management (IRM) in the State Department’s Office of Executive Secretariat when Clinton was secretary of state, and thus he may have knowledge about both Clinton’s private email account and her private server. But he has refused to answer their questions about Clinton’s private server. Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson, the leaders of the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees respectively, have told Bentel that they would prefer a “voluntary and informal” meeting, but “will consider other options if faced with a continuing lack of cooperation,” potentially referring to a subpoena.

Bentel was secretly questioned by the House Benghazi Committee in June 2015, and claimed he had “no memory or knowledge” about such issues.

But in May 2016, evidence will emerge suggesting otherwise, and that he might have played a role in a cover-up. (The Hill, 3/14/2016) (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

March 20, 2016: The FBI allegedly is moving towards recommending an indictment of Clinton, but it is facing political pressure not to do so.

The New York Post reports, “FBI chief James Comey and his investigators are increasingly certain that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton violated laws in handling classified government information through her private email server, career agents say.”

One unnamed former official says, “You don’t start granting people close to Clinton immunity unless you are seriously looking at charges against your target.”

However, it is also believed that the Obama White House is putting pressure on Comey not to recommend charges against Clinton. The Post further reports that “some FBI staffers suggest the probe’s at a point where Comey might quit in protest if [the] Justice [Department] ignores a recommendation to pursue a criminal case against Clinton.” (The New York Post, 3/20/2016)

March 23, 2016: A Congressperson calls the Clinton Foundation a “sham” charity.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (Credit: MSNBC)

Representative Marsha Blackburn (Credit: MSNBC)

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R) sends a letter to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission], asking it to investigate the Clinton Foundation’s nonprofit status. “The FTC has a history of investigating ‘sham’ charities for false and deceptive statements and should initiate a review of the foundation. […] Consistent with the FTC’s mission and precedent, we request that you review [my] allegations to determine if the Foundation is a ‘sham’ charity.” (The Seaton Post, 3/23/2016)

March 24, 2016: More of Clinton’s work-related emails that Clinton did not turn over are found.

Tom Fitton (Credit: WorldNetDaily)

Tom Fitton (Credit: WorldNetDaily)

Clinton has claimed that she turned over all her work emails and deleted only the ones that were personal. She also has claimed that she only began using her private email account on March 18, 2009.

However, Judicial Watch forced the State Department to release two previously unknown Clinton emails due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of her records relating to her iPhone or BlackBerry use. It’s not clear why the emails did not appear before.

Judicial Watch makes public an email to Clinton from her chief of staff Cheryl Mills on February 13, 2009 about her BlackBerry, and Clinton’s short email response.

Tom Fitton, the head of Judicial Watch, says, “So now we know that, contrary to her statement under oath suggesting otherwise, Hillary Clinton did not turn over all her government emails. We also know why Hillary Clinton falsely suggests she didn’t use clintonemail.com account prior to March, 18, 2009—because she didn’t want Americans to know… that she knew her BlackBerry and email use was not secure.” (The Hill, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/17/2016)

March 25, 2016: The FBI refuses to say much about its Clinton investigation.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News relating to Clinton’s private server, an FBI official states that while an investigation relating to the server is on-going, “the FBI has not and cannot publicly acknowledge the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such investigation.” (Vice News, 3/26/2016)

March 27, 2016: The Washington Post publishes a front-page story detailing the history of Clinton’s email scandal.

The Post reports, “From the earliest days, Clinton aides and senior officials focused intently on accommodating the secretary’s desire to use her private email account, documents and interviews show. Throughout, they paid insufficient attention to laws and regulations governing the handling of classified material and the preservation of government records, interviews and documents show. They also neglected repeated warnings about the security of the BlackBerry while Clinton and her closest aides took obvious security risks in using the basement server.” Clinton and her top State Department aides refused to be interviewed by the Post. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 27, 2016: Federal investigators have begun setting up formal interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides.

James McJunkin (Credit: Ebru News)

James McJunkin (Credit: Ebru News)

This is according to the Los Angeles Times, which also reports that they are also expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself. The timing is clear, and could still take weeks. But the Times reports that development is “an indication that much of the investigators’ background work—recovering deleted emails, understanding how the server operated and determining whether it was breached—is nearing completion.”

James McJunkin, former head of the FBI’s Washington field office, comments, “They are likely nearing the end of the investigation and the agents need to interview these people to put the information in context. They will then spend time aligning these statements with other information, emails, classified documents, etc., to determine whether there is a prosecutable case.”

The FBI has finished their review of the Clintons’ server and emails. They also already have interviewed a number of former aides “so they could better understand how the system was used and why Clinton chose to use it,” according to the Times. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)

March 27, 2016–March 31, 2016: Accounts differ on the number of FBI investigators.

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Credit: FBI)

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Credit: FBI)

A March 27, 2016 front-page Washington Post story claims that 147 FBI agents have been working on an investigation into Clinton’s emails. The Post soon issues a correction that states, “Two US law enforcement officials have since told the Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

On March 30, an unnamed source tells NBC News, “There are currently about 12 FBI agents working full-time on the case.” (NBC News, 3/30/2016)

On March 31, Time Magazine says, “20 to 30 agents, technical specialists and analysts have been assigned to the investigation, according to sources familiar with it.” (Time, 3/31/2016) 

One explanation of the differing numbers could be that the number of people working on the case changed over time.

On March 27, the Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI has finished their work-intensive review of Clinton’s server and emails. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)

March 29, 2016: The State Department will need to reveal more on why they kept Clinton’s emails secret.

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth declares that Judicial Watch is entitled to more details on how Clinton’s private email account was integrated into the State Department record-keeping system and why it wasn’t searched in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Lamberth refers to “constantly shifting admissions by the government and the former government officials.” He says, “Where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” “Discovery” will allow Judicial Watch access to more information, and often includes depositions of targeted people.

The State Department has been slow responding to a FOIA request file in May 2014 about the government response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

A different judge granted Judicial Watch discovery in a related case in February 2016. (Politico, 3/29/2016)

March 30, 2016: Clinton says the Clinton Foundation will continue if she is elected president.

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton on the Rachel Maddow Show on March 30, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Clinton is interviewed by MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow. Maddow asks her, “I think it is not unreasonable to suspect that people may give donations to the Clinton Foundation hoping that they will favorably influence your opinion toward them, as a presidential candidate, or eventually as president if you’re elected. […] Is there a case to be made, an ethical case to be made that the Clinton Foundation and the [Clinton] Global Initiative should essentially be wound down as a family foundation while you run for president?”

Clinton disagrees. She describes the charity work of the foundation in detail, then says: “So, I think the answer is transparency. And there is no doubt that there will be complete transparency about donations.” (Newsweek, 3/30/2016)

March 30, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation has reportedly reached a “critical stage.”

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

Reporter David Schuster says, “The FBI, led by Director James Comey, has now finished examining Clinton’s private emails and home server. And the sources add that Comey’s FBI team has been joined by the Justice Department prosecutors. Together, they are now examining the evidence, analyzing relevant laws, and attempting to arrange interviews with key figures in the investigation.

Those interviews, according to attorneys, will include former State Department aide Philippe Reines, former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton herself. Soon after those interviews—in the next few days and weeks—officials expect Director Comey to make his recommendation to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about potential criminal charges.” (Mediate, 3/30/2016)

March 30, 2016: Wisconsin’s largest newspaper criticizes Clinton’s transparency.

Several days before a closely contested Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publishes an editorial by their editorial board entitled, “Clinton’s Abysmal Record on Open Government.”

It states that Clinton’s “horrible track record on transparency raises serious concerns for open government under a Clinton administration—so serious we believe they may disqualify her from public office.” It adds, “the only believable reason for the private server in her basement was to keep her emails out of the public eye by willfully avoiding freedom of information laws. No president, no secretary of state, no public official at any level is above the law. She chose to ignore it, and must face the consequences.”

The editorial concludes, “Clinton has a long track record of public service but an equally long record of obfuscation, secrecy, and working in the shadows to boost her power and further her ambition.” (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/30/2016)

March 31, 2016: Time Magazine reveals some details about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

“The [FBI] agents have conducted interviews and done forensic analysis of the evidence collected. And they have executed process, the sources say, referring to a category of investigative tools that can include, among other things, subpoenas. As they near the end of the investigation, the agents are preparing to interview several of Clinton’s closest aides, and perhaps the candidate herself, according to the sources, a move Clinton campaign officials say she will comply with. […] [FBI Director James] Comey is keeping a close watch on the investigation, getting briefings from team leaders and personally overseeing the case. Agents have been told they may be polygraphed to prevent leaks, the sources familiar with the probe say.” (Time, 3/31/2016)

March 31, 2016: Fox News claims that FBI Director James Comey is trying to make a case to indict Clinton herself.

Ron Hosko (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

Ron Hosko (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

This is based on an inside source into the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails. That source says Comey is said to be frequently meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in order to prepare to interview Clinton and her top aides soon. The source says, “In a case like this, you get one shot at the queen” [referring to Clinton]. “The pressures are enormous on the agents, as the case has to be airtight and perfect.”

Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, says, “This in an incredibly high stakes, high-wire act. Timing is of the essence, but being right is absolutely critical. Comey must be the one to make the case that the law has been broken and a prosecution is recommended.” It is believed that the one approach the FBI is taking is seeing if Clinton or any of her aides can be caught lying under oath during their interviews. If they do, they could be prosecuted for that, as happened to Martha Stewart and many others. (Fox News, 3/31/2016)

Late March 2016: Guccifer talks to the FBI while he is extradited to the US.

The Romanian hacker Guccifer is extradited to the US at some point in late March 2016.

In early May 2016, he will claim that on the airplane ride from Romania to the US, “They came after me, a guy from the FBI, from the State Department.” Fox News will report, “A government source confirmed that the hacker had a lot to say on the plane but provided no other details.”

Guccifer will also claim that he talked about some large data files he kept in secure locations as a sort of insurance policy: “I can’t tell now. I can’t tell because I want to talk to the FBI. It is a matter of national security.” However, he seems to indicate the data is not connected to the FBI’s Clinton investigation. (Fox News, 5/7/2016) 

Guccifer has also said he’s talked to US officials since his arrest in Romania in January 2014, including with the FBI in March 2014. (LawNewz, 5/6/2016)