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)

May 25, 2016: The Washington Post’s editorial board publishes an editorial: “Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.”

This editorial is due to the critical State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s email practices made public earlier in the day. The editorial board says the report makes clear that Clinton’s use of a private server “was not a casual oversight,” because she “had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods…”

The editorial concludes that “there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications. While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules.” (The Washington Post, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: A former senior State Department military adviser claims Clinton’s “sloppy communications with her senior staff” may have compromised at least two counterterrorism operations.

Wanted Poster for terrorist Umbra Jumdail a.k.a. Dr. Abu (Credit: NBC News)

Wanted Poster for terrorist Umbra Jumdail a.k.a. Dr. Abu (Credit: NBC News)

Bill Johnson was the department’s political adviser to the special operations section of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) from 2010 to 2011, after a long military career. He says secret plans targeting Umbra Jumdail, the leader of a Filipino Islamist separatist group, as well as plans to intercept Chinese-made weapons components being smuggled into Iraq, were both repeatedly foiled.

He claims that he and his team determined unprotected phone calls of Clinton and her aides were the likely problem, after eliminating other possibilities. Johnson says, “I had several missions that went inexplicably wrong, with the targets one step ahead of us.” For instance, his target Jumdail in the Philippines was repeatedly tipped off. He traced the problem to unsecure communications between Washington, DC, and the US embassy in Manila. “Anyone can just sit outside the embassy and listen” with off-the-shelf eavesdropping devices, he claims.

He argues that the leaks stopped after Special Operations Command stopped giving advance warning to senior State Department officials about the raids. Jumdail was killed in a US-based airstrike not long thereafter.

Johnson says such problems “could’ve been avoided if the CIA gave her a secure phone. She requested one, but they turned it down.”

A Clinton spokesperson calls the allegations “patently false.” (Newsweek, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton’s campaign trusts the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Brad Woodhouse (Credit: CNN)

Brad Woodhouse (Credit: CNN)

Brad Woodhouse, of the pro-Clinton group Correct the Record, says, “Let the FBI finish its investigation. Let the FBI do its job. We trust that process. We’d like to see that process through.”

Correct the Record calls itself “a strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.” It was founded by David Brock, who also runs Clinton’s main super PAC. (Politico, 5/25/2016) (Correct the Record, 5/7/2016)

May 25, 2016: The State Department’s top two security officials say they would never have approved Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account.

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

A new State Department inspector general report determines that department rules required Clinton to get official approval to conduct official business using a personal email account on her private server, but she did not do so. 

In the words of the report, Steven C. Taylor, current head of Information Resources Management (IRM) and Gregory Starr, current head of Diplomatic Security (DS), jointly claim that Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs. However, according to these officials, DS and IRM did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton didn’t consult with anybody about exclusively using a personal email address or private server for work matters.

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

When former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills testified to the House Benghazi Committee in a private session on September 3, 2015, her comments remained secret.

However, on this day, a State Department inspector general’s report makes one portion of her testimony public. Mills was asked by the committee, “Was anyone consulted about Secretary Clinton exclusively using a personal email address for her work?”

Mills replied, “I don’t recall that. If it did happen, I wasn’t part of that process. But I don’t believe there was a consultation around it, or at least there’s not one that I’m aware of…”

Mills then was asked if Clinton consulted with “private counsel,” or “the general counsel for the State Department,” or “anybody from the National Archives [and Records Administation (NARA)],” or “anyone from the White House.”

Mills replied she wasn’t aware of any consultation from any of those people either.

The inspector general’s report also included comments from many other senior department officials about this, and “These officials all stated that they were not asked to approve or otherwise review the use of Secretary Clinton’s server and that they had no knowledge of approval or review by other Department staff. These officials also stated that they were unaware of the scope or extent of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account, though many of them sent emails to [her] on this account.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: A Bill Clinton assistant with no security clearance and no special computer expertise helped manage Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

It had been previously believed that Bryan Pagliano was the one who managed Clinton’s private server. But the State Department inspector general’s report released on this day reveals that there actually were “two individuals who provided technical support to Secretary Clinton.”

The report rarely names names, but the individual other than Pagliano is described as someone who “was at one time an advisor to former President [Bill] Clinton but was never a [State] Department employee, [and] registered the clintonemail.com domain name on January 13, 2009.” Previous media reports made clear the person who registered the domain on that day and was an aide to Bill Clinton is Justin Cooper. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (The Washington Post, 03/10/2015) 

In 2015, the Washington Post reported that Cooper had “no security clearance and no particular expertise in safeguarding computers, according to three people briefed on the server setup.” (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015) 

However, the inspector general’s report describes a January 2011 incident in which Cooper turned Clinton’s server off and on in response to a hacker attack, showing he had direct access to the server and thus all the classified information contained inside it. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

In April 2016, the Washington Times alleged that Bill and Hillary Clinton “have paid [Cooper’s] legal fees associated with the FBI investigation, amounting to ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars.’” (The Washington Times, 4/27/2016)