May 2016: The State Department won’t say if Clinton’s former top aides have kept their security clearances or not.

 05-2016ChuckGrassley

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (R), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to the State Department. He asks if some of Clinton’s former top aides, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines have kept their security clearances “in light of the fact that classified information has been discovered” on Clinton’s private server.

However, the State Department declines to tell him, saying it won’t discuss the status of any individuals’ security clearance. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)

It has previously been reported that Clinton and her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills have kept their security clearances.

May 2, 2016: The State Department changes its policy on when foreign intelligence should be considered classified.

State Department legislative liaison Julia Frifield sends a letter to the Senate indicating an apparent change in what information the State Department considers properly classified. The vast majority of redactions in Clinton’s emails are for foreign government information, to which Frifield refers as “FGI.”

Frifield writes, “Although the unauthorized release of FGI is presumed to cause harm to the national security—thereby qualifying as Confidential [level] classified information, department officials of necessity routinely receive such information through unclassified channels. For example, diplomats engage in meetings with counterparts in open settings, have phone calls with foreign contacts over unsecure lines, and email with and about foreign counterparts via unclassified systems. Diplomats could not conduct diplomacy if doing so violated the law.” As a result, not all such information should automatically be considered classified.

However, regulations in effect when Clinton was secretary of state called for FGI to be marked “confidential” unless it was designated “C/MOD” (for “confidential/modified handling”). But none of Clinton’s emails appear to have been given that designation. (Politico, 5/12/2016)

Late April 2016—Early May, 2016: Hacking attacks on a DNC consultant researching pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine lead DNC leaders to conclude the Russian government is behind such attacks.

160530AlexandraChalupaLinkedIn

Alexandra Chalupa (Credit: Linked In)

Alexandra Chalupa, a consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has been working for several weeks on an opposition research file about Paul Manafort, the campaign manager of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Manafort has a long history of advising politicians around the world, including controversial dictators. Logging into her Yahoo email account, she gets a warning entitled “Important action required” from a Yahoo cybersecurity team. The warning adds, “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”

Paul Manafort (Credit: Linked In)

Paul Manafort (Credit: Linked In)

Paul Manafort was a key adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from 2004 until 2010. Yanukovych is a controversial figure frequently accused of widespread corruption and was overthrown after a massive series of protests in February 2014, and has since been living in Russia, protected by the Russian government. Chalupa had been drafting memos and writing emails about Manafort’s link to pro-Russian Ukrainian leaders such as Yanukovych when she got the warning. She had been in contact with investigative journalists in Ukraine who had been giving her information about Manafort’s ties there.

Chalupa immediately alerts top DNC officials. But more warnings from Yahoo’s security team follows. On May 3, 2016, she writes in an email to DNC communications director Luis Miranda, “Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily occurrence on my Yahoo account despite changing my password often.”

160725ScreenshotCapturedYahooNews(1)

A photo capture of the Yahoo security warning appearing on DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa’s computer screen. (Credit: Yahoo News)

In July 2016, she will tell Yahoo News, “I was freaked out,” and “This is really scary.” Her email message to Miranda will later be one of 20,000 emails released by WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, showing that there was good reason to be concerned about hacking attempts.

Chalupa’s email to Miranda, results in concern amongst top level DNC officials. One unnamed insider will later say. “That’s when we knew it was the Russians,” since Russia would be very interested in Chalupa’s research and other countries like China would not. This source also says that as a precaution, “we told her to stop her research.”

Yahoo will later confirm that it did send numerous warnings to Chalupa, and one Yahoo security official will say, “Rest assured we only send these notifications of suspected attacks by state-sponsored actors when we have a high degree of confidence.” (Yahoo News, 7/25/2016)

May 3, 2016: Clinton maintains she and her “representatives” still have not been contacted by the FBI.

Brian Fallon (Credit: MSNBC)

Brian Fallon (Credit: MSNBC)

In an interview conducted on this day by MSNBC, Clinton is asked, “Have you been contacted or have your representatives been contacted” by the FBI to be interviewed as part of their investigation into her email scandal.

Clinton simply replies by saying “No” several times. (MSNBC, 5/3/2016

Two days later, it is reported that Clinton’s former aides were interviewed already, with Huma Abedin having been interviewed one month ago, on April 5, 2016. Furthermore, the FBI is planning to interview Clinton soon. (The Los Angeles Times, 5/5/2016) (Reuters, 5/5/2016)

Reuters will later notice the contradiction and ask Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon about it. Fallon will cryptically reply, “What does ‘representatives’ mean to you, sir?” (Reuters, 5/5/2016) 

Fallon also calls the FBI investigation an “independent review.” (The Associated Press, 5/4/2016)

May 3, 2016: Clinton’s email scandal is likened to the charges that led to David Petraeus’ conviction.

Nathan Sales (Credit: Syracuse University)

Nathan Sales (Credit: Syracuse University)

Law professor Nathan Sales compares a possible indictment of Clinton with the conviction of former CIA Director David Petraeus in 2013.

He notes that Petraeus did not ultimately plead guilty to sharing classified information with his mistress and biographer, but to charges related to keeping the information in a desk drawer inside his house. “The conduct that is being investigated [in Clinton’s case]—keeping the documents on an unclassified server—that’s kind of the digital equivalent of locking it in your desk drawer, which is ultimately what did in General Petraeus. […] Based on what we do know so far, I think there is a not insignificant chance that a grand jury could look at the facts and say, ‘Actually, she may have violated various laws protecting classified information.’” (Rolling Stone, 5/3/2016)

May 4, 2016: Guccifer tells Fox News he accessed Clinton’s private server in 2013.

Guccifer (left) talks to Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge (right). (Credit: Fox News)

Guccifer (left) talks to Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge (right). (Credit: Fox News)

The Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, whose real name is Marcel-Lehel Lazar, has been recently interviewed by Fox News. He claims for the first time that after breaking into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013, he traced Clinton’s emails back to her private email server.

He tells Fox News, “For me, it was easy […] easy for me, for everybody.” He says he accessed her server “like twice.” He adds, “For example, when Sidney Blumenthal got an email, I checked the email pattern from Hillary Clinton, from Colin Powell, from anyone else to find out the originating IP [Internet Protocol address]. […] When they send a letter, the email header is the originating IP usually…then I scanned with an IP scanner.”

He said he then used some Internet programs to determine if the server was active and which ports were open. However, the server’s contents did “not interest” him at the time. “I was not paying attention. For me, it was not like the Hillary Clinton server, it was like an email server she and others were using with political voting stuff.”

If he breached the server, it appears he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing, and he has not claimed to have uncovered more of Clinton’s emails. He is interviewed from a US prison and has no documents to back up his claim. However, Fox News reports, “While [his] claims cannot be independently verified, three computer security specialists, including two former senior intelligence officials, said the process described is plausible and the Clinton server, now in FBI custody, may have an electronic record that would confirm or disprove Guccifer’s claims.”

Cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright comments, “The Blumenthal account gave him a road map to get to the Clinton server. […] You get a foothold in one system. You get intelligence from that system, and then you start to move.”

Guccifer claims he wants to cooperate with the US government, adding that he has hidden two gigabytes of data that is “too hot” and is “a matter of national security.”

The Clinton campaign responds, “There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell. In addition to the fact he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton’s server are inaccurate.” (Fox News, 5/4/2016) 

Politico reports, “An internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking” according to “a source familiar with the situation.” (Politico, 5/4/2016)

An FBI report in September 2016 will assert that Guccifer admitted in his FBI interview that he lied about his claim to have accessed Clinton’s server.

May 4, 2016: Guccifer also tells NBC News he accessed Clinton’s private server in 2013.

Guccifer (left) being interviewed by Cynthia McFadden (right) inside a Romanian prison complex. (Credit: NBC News)

Guccifer (left) being interviewed by Cynthia McFadden (right) inside a Romanian prison complex. (Credit: NBC News)

Hours after Fox News reports on recently interviewing Romanian hacker Guccifer, NBC News reports on their recent interview with Guccifer. Like the Fox News interview, the main story is that Guccifer claims to have gained access to Clinton’s private email server. He tells NBC News, “It was like an open orchid on the Internet. […] There were hundreds of folders.” He also calls her server “completely unsecured.”

An unnamed source with knowledge of the FBI’s Clinton investigation claims “that with Guccifer in US custody, investigators fully intend to question him about her server.”

While Fox News recently interviewed him in a US prison, NBC News interviewed him from a prison in Bucharest, Romania, where he was until he was extradited to the US in late March 2016. (NBC News, 5/4/2016)

LawNewz notes the timing, and asks, “Why would a major news network sit on such an explosive allegation—especially when the claim directly relates to a presidential candidate and the biggest story the 2016 presidential election cycle?” NBC News has not commented. (LawNewz, 5/4/2016)

An FBI report in September 2016 will assert that Guccifer admitted in his FBI interview that he lied about his claim to have accessed Clinton’s server.

May 4, 2016: A judge says Clinton may have to testify under oath in a court case.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered some of Clinton’s former top aides to testify under oath about Clinton’s private email server and how the State Department handled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding Clinton’s emails. Based on what is revealed in those interviews, due to take place in the next two months, Sullivan says that a sworn deposition from Clinton herself “may be necessary.” Judicial Watch, who made the original FOIA requests, would have to file a separate request “at the appropriate time.”

The Associated Press notes, “That raises the possibility that Clinton could be ordered to testify in the midst of the presidential race.” (The Associated Press, 5/4/2016) (LawNewz, 5/4/2016)

May 4, 2016: Six former State Department officials are to be deposed under oath in the next two months.

Lewis Lukens (Credit: public domain)

Lewis Lukens (Credit: public domain)

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan says the depositions are necessary in order to determine if the department conducted an adequate search regarding Judicial Watch’s 2013 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the employment of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, since she had three outside jobs at one point.

Deposition questions are to be limited to the set-up and management of Clinton’s private server, since the department failed to reveal Clinton’s emails on the server in response to the FOIA request. The former aides due to be deposed in the next two months are:

  • Huma Abedin
  • Cheryl Mills
  • Bryan Pagliano
  • Patrick Kennedy
  • Stephen Mull
  • Lewis Lukens
  • plus, someone to be decided by the State Department.

Judicial Watch could make a video of their interviews public. (LawNewz, 5/4/2016) (The Associated Press, 5/4/2016)

May 5, 2016: Some of Clinton’s emails may remain private because of a legal precedent involving former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger participate in "Conversations on Diplomacy, Moderated by Charlie Rose,” at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Clinton and Henry Kissinger in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. (Credit: Jewel  Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Kissinger made transcripts of some of his work-related phone calls. After he left office in January 1977, he took the only copies with him and eventually had them transferred to the Library of Congress, with tight restrictions on who could access them. A watchdog group sued for access, but the US Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the State Department had no obligation to search for documents that had been removed, even if they had been improperly taken.

However, there is a footnote written by Justice William Rehnquist that the ruling might not apply when someone is actively trying to thwart the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In two ongoing civil suits, judges have granted discovery to Judicial Watch in part to determine if Clinton or her aides had actively tried to thwart FOIA. That opens the possibility of a judge eventually ordering Clinton to hand over even the emails she deemed personal, if she still has them. (Time, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: The FBI is planning to interview Clinton soon.

Former US Attorney Matthew Whitaker (Credit: public domain)

Former US Attorney Matthew Whitaker (Credit: public domain)

It is reported that the FBI is likely to interview Clinton in “the next few weeks.” Clinton’s top aides have been interviewed in recent weeks and it appears Clinton will be interviewed last, at the very end of the FBI’s investigation. (Reuters, 5/5/2016) 

Former federal prosecutor Steven Levin says, “This certainly sends the signal that they are nearing an end to their investigation.” And while the FBI has not said that Clinton is the main target of their investigation, Levin notes that, “Typically, the way we structured investigations when I was a federal prosecutor is that we would seek to interview the target last.”

Former US attorney Matthew Whitaker says the FBI will only “ask her questions that they know the answers to already.” Their aim is to get her to confess to a crime, or to lie, which also would be a crime. (The Hill, 5/8/2016)

May 5, 2016: The State Department may postpone releasing documents about Clinton’s email security procedures until after the November 2016 presidential election.

Jason Koebler (Credit: Vice News)

Jason Koebler (Credit: Vice News)

In March 2015, shortly after Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email and server was first publicly revealed, Vice News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department for all “communications, presentations, and procedures created by the State Department to secure Hillary Clinton’s email from electronic threats.” In 2015, the Department began releasing some relevant emails, but no other relevant documents have been released.

After two delays, on this day, Vice News is told by the Department that the “estimated completion date” for the FOIA request has been “extended to December 2016.”

Vice News reporter Jason Koebler comments, “The FOIA process is a notorious mess, but it is patently ridiculous that records pertaining to the security practices of someone who stands a very good chance of running the country—and thus being in possession of highly sensitive documents at all times—won’t be made available to the public a year and a half after they were requested.” (Vice News, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: It is reported that some of Clinton’s aides have recently been interviewed by the FBI as part of their Clinton email investigation.

CNN reports that “In recent weeks, multiple aides have been interviewed—some more than once,” according to unnamed US officials. Only Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin is mentioned by name, who was interviewed at least once, on April 5, 2016. The FBI “has been quietly bringing witnesses into an FBI office without drawing attention.” They are likely to try to do the same when Clinton herself gets interviewed in the coming weeks. (CNN, 5/5/2016) (The Los Angeles Times, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: CNN alleges the FBI has not proven that Clinton “willfully” broke the law; the investigation could conclude within weeks.

CNN reports, “The investigation is still ongoing, but so far investigators haven’t found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law the US officials say.” However, nothing has been said about crimes that did not involve willful violation of the law, such as gross negligence, or unsecure possession of classified material.

Unnamed officials also claim that “The probe remains focused on the security of the server and the handling of classified information and hasn’t expanded to other matters.”

Furthermore, “FBI officials overseeing the probe now expect to complete their work in the next few weeks and then turn over the findings to the Justice Department, which will make a final decision on whether to bring charges against anyone.” (CNN, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: Accounts differ on the results of the FBI’s Clinton investigation so far.

The Washington Post reports, “Prosecutors and FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence that the leading Democratic presidential candidate intended to break classification rules, though they are still probing the case aggressively with an eye on interviewing Clinton herself, according to US officials familiar with the matter.” Additionally, “One official said prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not.” (The Washington Post, 5/5/2016)

However, a few hours later, NBC News cites unnamed US officials who have a different point of view. “As for where the investigation stands, these officials say it is a long way from over. […] No conclusions have been reached about whether any laws were violated in setting up or using the system, the officials say.” (NBC News, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: “Rocket docket” prosecutors are working with the FBI on the Clinton investigation.

Federal Prosecutor Dana Boente (Credit: public domain

Federal Prosecutor Dana Boente (Credit: public domain

It is reported that FBI investigators looking into Clinton’s email scandal have been joined by prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. The district is commonly nicknamed the “rocket docket” for the speed with which cases move through it. It is home to the CIA and the Pentagon, so it often deals with national security and terrorism cases. The office is led by veteran federal prosecutor Dana Boente. Prosecutors from the office have been working with the FBI to interview Clinton’s top aides. (The Washington Post, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: 36 more Clinton emails are publicly released, suggesting many more still to come.

In January 2016, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release all the known emails of Huma Abedin from her time as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. This is in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch.

Over 29,000 pages of emails are due to be released in batches, and this is the first batch of 241 pages. Some of the emails are between Abedin and Clinton, and most if not all of them appear to be work-related, showing yet again that Clinton did not turn over all her work-related emails when she gave the State Department over 30,000 emails in December 2014.

21 of the emails between Abedin and Clinton date from January 28, 2009 to March 17, 2009; Clinton had said she didn’t use her new email account until March 18, 2009.

Another 15 emails between them date between March 18, 2009 to October 20, 2012, and do not match any of emails in the State Department’s database of the 30,000 publicly released Clinton emails. Whereas 16 emails dating from March 20, 2009 to May 28, 2009 do appear in that database. (Judicial Watch, 5/5/2016) (US Department of State, 5/1/2016) (US Department of State, 5/1/2016) 

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “These emails further undermine Hillary Clinton’s statement, under penalty of perjury, suggesting she turned over all of her government emails to the State Department. How many more Hillary Clinton emails is the Obama State Department hiding?” (Judicial Watch, 5/5/2016) Since these emails appear to be:

  • a more or less random selection from all four years of Clinton’s time as secretary of state
  • about half of the emails from March 18, 2009 and afterwards are not included in the 30,000 previously released emails
  • this batch makes up less than one percent of all the Huma Abedin emails due to be released
  • Abedin’s emails make up only about 15 percent of the 30,000 emails

One can reasonably estimate that thousands of the over 31,000 emails Clinton deleted actually are work-related and are likely to be publicly released in later batch releases of Abedin’s emails as well as FOIA lawsuits forcing the release of emails from other top Clinton aides. In fact, if this sample is a truly random sample representative of the rest of the emails from Abedin and other top Clinton aides, well over 10,000 of Clinton’s deleted emails could be work-related.

May 8, 2016: Clinton says she’s “more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime” about her email scandal.

Clinton appears on Face the Nation, May 8, 2016. (Credit: CBS)

Clinton appears on Face the Nation, May 8, 2016. (Credit: CBS)

Clinton says in an interview that when it comes to her email scandal, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of…my assistants to be very forthcoming. And I hope that this is close to being wrapped up.” She also adds that the FBI still has yet to contact or interview her regarding their investigation. “No one has reached out to me yet.” (CNN, 5/8/2016)

May 9, 2016: Blumenthal refuses to say if the FBI has interviewed him.

Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal is asked if the FBI has interviewed him as part of their Clinton email investigation. He replies, “You know, I don’t really want to talk about an ongoing inquiry right now.” He says he will wait to speak until after the investigation is over. (The Hill, 5/9/2016)

In September 2016, it will be revealed Blumethal was interviewed by the FBI in January 2016.

May 9, 2016: Clinton’s text messages can’t be found.

In March 2016, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for more of Clinton’s communications. For the first time, that included a request for all of her text and Blackberry Messenger communications.

However, on this day, the RNC states in a court filing that the State Department has recently informed them that it has not found any documents responsive to that request. (ABC News, 5/9/2016) It is possible some texts could still be on Clinton’s BlackBerry, but it is unclear what happened to it, as there have been no media reports that it was given to the FBI.

May 10, 2016: A key record keeping official says the disappearance of Pagliano’s emails “stink to high heavens.”

Daniel Metcalfe (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / Legal Times)

Daniel Metcalfe (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / Legal Times)

Dan Metcalfe, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy for 25 years, comments on news that the State Department can’t find the emails of Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano: “If it is true that federal records directly documenting his work no longer exist, then that is awfully coincidental, to put it most charitably—especially given the nature of his work and the role he has played in the Clinton email controversy.”

He adds, “And it certainly now raises reasonable suspicion, as it did with the Senate a few months ago, that something was very much amiss here—either with record creation or record preservation, or both. For someone who has taken the Fifth regarding his government activity, it is more than suspicious that his agency suddenly determine that the records that you would ordinarily expect it to have maintained about his work are just not there. […] In short, the whole thing stinks to high heavens.” (LawNewz, 5/10/2016)

May 10, 2016: The New York Times reports that 18 of Clinton’s publicly released emails have been deemed classified on the grounds that they identified CIA officials.

The Times claims that, “In 18 emails, for example, information has been classified on the grounds that it identifies CIA officials, including two instances that are now considered “secret.” (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) 

However, this is not entirely accurate. A search of the State Department’s database of Clinton’s released emails indicates that 49 emails used the code “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” which indicates a redacted mention of secret CIA personnel or organizational details. Many of these are emails from the same email chain. But there are in fact five separate chains mentioning the name of a CIA official classified at the “secret” level, not two. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016

There are 17 more separate email chains that have the redacted names of secret CIA officials, for a total of 22, not 18. Additionally, it has previously been reported that a “handful” of additional emails make veiled references to the fact that certain government officials actually work for the CIA. (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

May 10, 2016: A recent interview shows differences between FBI investigators and Justice Department prosecutors in the Clinton email investigation.

Cheryl Mills (right) and her attorney Beth Wilkinson (left) (Credit: Getty Images)

Cheryl Mills (right) and her attorney Beth Wilkinson (left) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Washington Post reports that Clinton’s former aide Cheryl Mills was recently interviewed by the FBI as part of their Clinton investigation. (It will later be revealed the interview took place on April 9, 2016.) Not long after it started, an FBI investigator asked Mills about how Mills chose which of Clinton’s emails to turn over to the State Department and which ones to delete.

It has been reported that process was done by Mills along with Clinton associates David Kendall and Heather Samuelson. However, Mills’ lawyer Beth Wilkinson and the Justice Department had agreed the topic would be off-limits. Mills and Wilkinson left the room, but they returned a short time later. Ultimately, Mills was not asked about that topic.

The Washington Post reports that Justice Department “prosecutors were somewhat taken aback that their FBI colleague had ventured beyond what was anticipated…” The topic was considered off-limits because “it was considered confidential as an example of attorney-client privilege.” Mills is a lawyer, but she served as Clinton’s chief of staff and it has never been reported that she has legally represented Clinton.

The Post also reports, “It is not completely unknown for FBI agents and prosecutors to diverge on interview tactics and approach, and the people familiar with the matter said Mills answered investigators’ questions.” (The Washington Post, 5/10/2016)

May 11, 2016: FBI Director James Comey says the FBI is conducting an “investigation” into Clinton’s emails and server, not a “security inquiry.”

Speaking to reporters, he adds, “We’re conducting an investigation […] That’s what we do. […] It’s in our name [the Federal Bureau of Investigation]. I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry.’” Clinton and her spokespeople have repeatedly referred to it as a “security inquiry” or a “security referral.”

Comey also says that he feels “pressure” to complete the Clinton investigation soon, but “I don’t tether to any external deadline,” such as the Democratic convention in July 2016. He otherwise deflects questions about the investigation, saying it is on-going. (Politico, 5/11/2016) (The New York Times, 5/11/2016) (The Hill, 5/11/2016) (FBI, 5/14/2016)

May 11, 2016: Vanity Fair publishes an article with the title, “Is Hillary’s Email Nightmare About to Explode?”

The article comments, “While Hillary Clinton is busy trying to put the Democratic primary race behind her and pivot to the general election against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, the past several days have served as a stark reminder that Clinton is not yet clear of a potential scandal that still threatens to derail her campaign: the FBI is nearing the completion of its investigation into her use of a private server to send classified emails, with the results expected be released before November. Negative headlines about Clinton’s e-mails have seemed to be reaching critical mass in recent days.” (Vanity Fair, 5/11/2016)

May 12, 2016: Clinton could be the subject or even the target of an FBI criminal investigation.

Ellen Glasser (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ellen Glasser (Credit: Paul Squire)

Politifact gets opinions on the FBI’s Clinton investigation from several experienced former officials who have no specific inside knowledge of the case.

Ellen Glasser, a retired FBI official who worked on mishandled classified information cases, says, “We don’t do these [investigations] because we’re curious. There’s a potential that a criminal violation took place. […] My experience tells me that Hillary Clinton is a subject of a criminal investigation.”

Mark Pollitt, former head of the FBI’s computer forensics program, says, “You don’t know if it’s criminal until you get to the end of it.” Noting that the investigation has lasted for at least nine months, he adds, “If this thing was dead on arrival, nobody would be willing to keep this thing going.”

However, it is still unknown if Clinton is a subject or target of the investigation. A “target” is someone who prosecutors believe is linked to a crime by substantial evidence. It is common practice for prosecutors to tell people if they are targets if they ask. However, it doesn’t appear that Clinton has asked. She has claimed that she has had no contact with the FBI about the investigation so far. (Politifact, 5/12/2016)

May 12, 2016: Over 120 additional Clinton emails are publicly released.

More of Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state are released by the State Department, due to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. In 2015, Clinton claimed that she didn’t start using her new private email address until March 18, 2009. But all these emails date from before then.

There are 15 emails using her old email address from January 22, 2009 (one day after she became secretary of state) to February 26, 2009. There are another 108 emails using her new email address (hosted on her private server) from January 30, 2009 to March 8, 2009. (Judicial Watch, 5/12/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) 

LawNewz notes that this email release “contradicts claims made by Clinton and her campaign that she did not begin using the private e-mail server until March 2009. […] The dates of the newly released e-mails also appear to contradict a declaration signed by Clinton, under penalty of perjury, saying she surrendered all her work-related e-mails to the State Department on December 5, 2014.” (LawNewz, 5/13/2016)

May 13, 2016: Clinton clearly violated the Federal Records Act (FRA), but the act is “effectively toothless” when it comes to punishing her.

Dan Metcalfe, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy for 25 years, writes an editorial noting that penalties for violating the FRA are limited to monetary or administrative sanctions, and those can only be applied to people who are still federal employees when violations are discovered.

He says that Clinton’s conduct with her emails “violated the Federal Records Act from beginning to end, including through what appears to be her utter failure to meet any of the requirements placed on a departing employee. This amounts to what can be viewed as the biggest, most consequential violation of the FRA in its history, as well as a blatant circumvention of the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] the likes of which have never before been seen.” However, she will face no penalty for violating this law because she is no longer a federal employee.

Metcalfe calls for Congress to “update the Federal Records Act to provide meaningful sanctions” to prevent others from doing what Clinton did. Nevertheless, Metcalfe says he is a Democrat and will support Clinton if she is not indicted. (LawNewz, 5/13/2015)

May 13, 2016: Trump doubts that the Clinton Foundation is a real charity.

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

New York Post front page on May 13, 2016, with photos of Bill Clinton and Julie Tauber McMahon. (Credit: New York Post)

When asked about the Clinton Foundation, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says, “I assume you put the word charity in quotes.” His comment comes one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the foundation-connected Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) may have benefitted a for-profit company partially owned by Julie Tauber McMahon.

Furthermore, there have been tabloid accusations that Bill Clinton and McMahon had a long-time romance despite his marriage to Hillary Clinton. Trump says of the story, “Well, it is a bombshell, there’s no doubt about it.” He also says people have been whispering about Bill Clinton’s romantic involvement with McMahon “for years,” but “I have no idea what went on.”

Real Clear Politics reporter Rebecca Berg comments, “It plays right into this narrative that [Trump] is trying to build that Hillary Clinton is crooked, that she’s corrupt, and Donald Trump we saw in the primary used this specter of public corruption very effectively.” (CNN, 5/13/2016) (The Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2016(The Daily Mail, 7/25/2014) (The New York Post, 5/13/2016)

May 16, 2016: Clinton may be forced to testify under oath in a civil lawsuit related to her emails.

Judicial Watch formally asks US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth for permission to depose Clinton as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

This is actually one of two similar cases involving Judicial Watch and Clinton. In the other case, handled by federal judge Emmet Sullivan, Judicial Watch has not asked for Clinton’s deposition yet, but they may do so in the future, and they are deposing some of her former aides. In this case, Clinton could be forced to testify under oath about her use of a private email account for government work as well as the State Department’s response to FOIA requests for information related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. (Politico, 05/16/2016)

May 17, 2016: Depositions in a civil lawsuit related to Clinton’s emails will begin within days and continue until the end of June.

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan is allowing Judicial Watch to depose six US officials under oath, mostly Clinton’s former aides, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, on the following dates:

  • May 18: Former deputy assistant secretary of state Lewis Lukens will be interviewed on May 18.
  • May 27: Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
  • June 3: Stephen Mull, former State Department executive secretary.
  • June 6: Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s former computer technician who managed her private server.
  • June 28: Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff.
  • June 29: Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management since 2007 until current.

Judicial Watch can interview each witness for up to seven hours, and the video of the interviews can be made public several days later. The questioning will be limited, but includes the issue of how Clinton’s private server was set up and managed, and why the State Department didn’t properly fulfill FOIA requests for Clinton’s emails. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2016) (Judicial Watch, 5/17/2015)

May 18, 2016: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warns Clinton and Trump their campaign networks are being hacked.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Credit: ABC News)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Credit: ABC News)

Clapper publicly comments, “We’ve already had some indications” of hacking on the computer networks of the two frontrunners in the presidential race. He warns, “We’ll probably have more.” He suggests the hackers could be working for foreign governments.

V. Miller Newton, who advises federal agencies on data security, says foreign spying on campaign sites is inevitable. “These campaigns are not working on encrypted platforms. It’s a matter of when, and how serious of an impact it is going to have on this election.” (The Associated Press, 5/18/2016

It will later emerge that a hacking attack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was already discovered, in late April 2016, after staffers noticed unusual activity on the DNC’s computer network. (McClatchy Newspapers, 6/14/2016)

May 18, 2016: Former Clinton aide Lewis Lukens testifies under oath for two hours about his knowledge of Clinton’s emails and private server.

Lewis Lukens (Credit: Harry Hamburg / The Associated Press)

Lewis Lukens (Credit: Harry Hamburg / The Associated Press)

Lukens has been deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. He is the first of six to be deposed as part of that lawsuit, which is presided over by federal judge Emmet Sullivan. (The New York Times, 5/18/2016) (Judicial Watch v. State Lukens Testimony 01363 5/26/2016)

May 19, 2016: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that Clinton’s email scandal “is really a concern.”

Robert Gates (Credit: public domain)

Robert Gates (Credit: public domain)

In an interview, he says, “There’s the whole email thing, which I think is really a concern in terms of judgment. I don’t know what originally prompted her to think that was a good idea. […] Using an offline server I think was an error.”

Gates was defense secretary under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has declined to endorse anyone in the 2016 presidential race so far. (USA Today, 5/19/2016)

May 22, 2016: Ethics experts suggest the Clintons should cut their ties with the Clinton Foundation if Hillary is elected president.

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

The New York Times reports that Bill and Hillary Clinton have indicated their relationship with the Clinton Foundation would remain basically unchanged if Hillary becomes the next president. However: “Ethics experts reject that answer. They say there wouldn’t be any way to avoid the appearance of conflicts if she wins the presidency.”

Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University School of Law, says, “If Bill seeks to raise large sums of money from donors who also have an interest in US policy, the public will rightly question whether the grants affected United States foreign policy.” He adds that ethics rules are “not merely to prevent bad behavior but to foster public trust in the integrity of government choices.”

Joel Fleishman, who ran a foundation and wrote a book on philanthropy, says the Clintons should “sever the relationship [with the foundation] completely and put it in the hands of independent trustees.” They also should pick a leader of “impeccable integrity and let it go its own way in raising money.” (The New York Times, 5/22/2016)

May 22, 2016: Trump says he’s going to “bigly” emphasize Clinton’s email scandal if he faces her in the general election.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump indicates he’s planning to emphasize Clinton’s email scandal if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination battle against Senator Bernie Sanders. Trump says that Sanders “didn’t pick up on the emails, which I think was a big mistake. I’m going to pick up bigly. Because frankly she shouldn’t even be allowed to run for president.” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 23, 2016: The FBI is investigating the governor of Virginia, including his time as a board member of the CGI.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

CNN reports, “Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, US officials briefed on the probe say. […] [I]nvestigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI],” a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. There is no allegation that the foundation did anything wrong.

The investigation is particularly focused on a $120,000 donation by Wang Wenliang through his US businesses to McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. Wang is a Chinese citizen and used to be a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. However, he holds permanent resident status in the US, and is therefore eligible to donate to political campaigns, so it’s not clear what the alleged wrongdoing is. Wang has also given $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well as other major donations to other US-based charities. (CNN, 5/23/2016)

May 24, 2016: The FBI interviews Heather Samuelson.

Samuelson is one of three Clinton lawyers who sorted Clinton’s emails to decide which ones were work-related and which ones were personal. She did most of the sorting, but she was supervised by Clinton lawyers Cheryl Mills and David Kendall. The FBI mostly asks her about this sorting process. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

May 24, 2016: An intelligence veterans group calls for Clinton to be prosecuted due to her email scandal.

Three members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity: former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (left), former NSA Technical Director William Binney (center), former NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake (right). (Credit for all photos: public domain)

Three members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity: former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (left), former NSA Technical Director William Binney (center), former NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake (right). (Credit for all photos: public domain)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), a group of veterans of US intelligence agencies, publishes a letter that is highly critical of Clinton’s behavior in her email scandal. It concludes, “[T]he question is not whether Secretary Clinton broke the law. She did. If the laws are to be equally applied, she should face the same kind of consequences as others who have been found, often on the basis of much less convincing evidence, guilty of similar behavior.”

The letter is signed by seventeen intelligence veterans. Many of them are government whistleblowers. Some of them, such as Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, were punished for security violations that seem far less serious than what Clinton has been accused of. For instance, Drake was convicted of possessing one classified document that was not actually marked as such. (Common Dreams, 5/24/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton and her top aides refused to be interviewed for the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices.

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The report released on this day notes that it interviewed “dozens” of present and former State Department officials, including current Secretary of State John Kerry and the three secretaries prior to Clinton: Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. However, Clinton refused to be interviewed. Furthermore, nine of Clinton’s former top aides were singled out in the report for not being interviewed:

  • Cheryl Mills, chief of staff;
  • Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff for operations;
  • Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for policy, and then director of policy planning;
  • Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary for strategic communication;
  • John Bentel, director of the Information Resources Management (IRM) office;
  • Bryan Pagliano, special advisor to the deputy chief information officer (who also privately managed Clinton’s private server);
  • Heather Samuelson, senior advisor to the department (who determined which of Clinton’s emails to delete in late 2014);
  • Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources; and
  • Justin Cooper, whom the report calls “an individual based in New York who provided technical support for Secretary Clinton’s personal email system but who was never employed by the Department.”

The only other person singled out by the report for refusing to be interviewed is Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

The report was many months in the making. But on May 8, 2016, only two weeks before the report’s release, Clinton claimed in an interview that when it came to her emails, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of… my assistants to be very forthcoming.” (CNN, 5/8/2016) 

Later in the day, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon defends Clinton’s decision not to cooperate with the report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the [FBI investigation] and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet.” However, he didn’t clarify why Clinton couldn’t have cooperated with both investigations, especially since the FBI hasn’t even contacted her yet. (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: An unnamed State Department official admits that Clinton’s email setup was problematic.

According to the Washington Post, “[State Department] officials didn’t have a ‘complete understanding’ of Clinton’s email practices, the official said. The official added that, in retrospect, the agency ‘wouldn’t have recommended the approach.’”

The comments come shortly after the release of a State Department inspector general report that is sharply critical of Clinton’s email practices. But the official also says the department has no plans to take disciplinary action based on the report. It is not clear how the department could punish Clinton since she no longer works in government. (The Washington Post, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton’s spokesperson defends Clinton not cooperating for the inspector general’s report by claiming she’s cooperating with the FBI investigation instead.

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Clinton’s spokesperson, Brian Fallon, responds to the State Department inspector general’s report critiquing Clinton’s email practices.

He attempts to justify why Clinton and her top aides did not get interviewed for the inspector general’s report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the review being conducted by the Justice Department and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet. And she has similarly encouraged all of her aides to cooperate in every way with that Justice Department review.”

By “Justice Department review,” he is referring to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, even though the FBI director recently said they are conducting an “investigation” and not any kind of “review.”

Fallon argues that by the time the FBI investigation is done, “it will be impossible for anybody to suggest that she didn’t answer every question that anybody had.”

According to Politico, “He also said that there were questions raised about whether the inspector general—an independent position appointed by President Barack Obama—has an anti-Clinton bias, though he said there was no indication of any bias in the [inspector general’s report].” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders still does not emphasize Clinton’s email scandal.

Jeff Weaver (Credit: Jack Gruber / USA Today)

Jeff Weaver (Credit: Jack Gruber / USA Today)

Politico reports that despite a new State Department inspector general report that is sharply critical of Clinton’s email practices, “Bernie Sanders’ [presidential] campaign is showing no signs that it will seize upon the latest revelations in her email scandal.”

Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says, “Well, I think the report speaks for itself. This is obviously an area where the senator has chosen not to go. He’s tried to keep this campaign on the issues. […] And that’s why he’s doing so well in this campaign is because he’s talking about these substantive issues and people can make their own judgments about what is reported about the other issues.” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Guccifer pleads guilty as part of an apparent deal to cooperate with US investigators.

Judge James Cacheris (Credit: public domain)

Judge James Cacheris (Credit: public domain)

The Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer pleads guilty in a US court to charges of identity theft and unauthorized access to protected computers. At a plea hearing before US District Court Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria, VA, he admits that he broke into email and social media accounts of about 100 US citizens between 2012 and 2014.

Guccifer is best known for breaking into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013 and thus publicly revealing Clinton’s private email address. He could face up to seven years in prison in the US, on top of the seven years he is already serving in Romania.

He is due to be sentenced on September 1, 2016. However, it is alleged that his guilty plea is part of a deal to cooperate with the US government, possibly including the FBI’s Clinton investigation. It has been reported that he will cooperate with the government in other investigations and be “reasonably available for debriefing and pre-trial conferences as the US may require.” He also has agreed to turn over any documents or other materials “that may be relevant to investigations or inquires.” (LawNewz, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The New York Times publishes an article with the title: “Emails Add to Hillary Clinton’s Central Problem: Voters Just Don’t Trust Her.”

The article reports that “Clinton has gone from having a 69 percent approval rating and being one of the most popular public figures in the country when she left the State Department in 2013 to having one of the highest disapproval ratings of any likely presidential nominee of a major party.”

According to one recent poll, 53 percent of likely voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of her, and according to another recent poll, 64 percent of registered voters said they do not consider her honest or trustworthy.

The article notes, “Ask voters why they don’t trust Mrs. Clinton, and again and again they will answer with a single word: Emails.” (The New York Times, 5/25/2016)