June 1, 2016: Clinton wants to avoid answering questions about her email scandal as much as possible.

Politico reports that the State Department inspector general’s report on her email practices has frustrated Clinton’s attempt to focus on her positives, since trustworthiness and honesty issues continue to dodge her. “Clinton’s game plan moving forward is to keep her head down and move the email issue to the side rather than try and explain it all away, while reiterating that what she did was a mistake, [unnamed Clinton] campaign officials said.”

An unnamed “longtime Clinton ally” says: “The strategy of, ‘let’s tell everyone everything about this,’ won’t work now and will just result in more questions. The goal now is how to make this election about something else other than email.”

Another unnamed “Clinton ally close to the campaign” says, “If she starts answering questions [about her email scandal], it becomes Chinese water torture. I think she has said all there is to say on this and needs to put it behind her. If you start to fall into a trap of responding to every little nuance, you lose.” (Politico, 6/1/2016)

June 1, 2016: Pagliano will refuse to answer questions in his upcoming deposition.

Lawyers for Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano say he “will assert the Fifth Amendment and will decline to answer each and every question” when deposed by Judicial Watch as part of a civil suit on June 6.

Pagliano previously refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee or Congressional investigators. However, it has been reported that he made an immunity deal with the Justice Department as part of cooperating with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Also, despite the fact that Pagliano plans on not answering any questions, his lawyers also ask that no video recording of his deposition be made. US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has already ruled that videos of the deposition should be put under seal. However, Pagliano’s lawyers argue there still could be a chance a video could be released later. (Politico, 6/1/2016) (The Hill, 6/1/2016)

Two days later, Sullivan announces that Pagliano’s deposition will be postponed until issues about his pleading the Fifth are resolved. Sullivan has asked Pagliano’s lawyers to reveal the scope of the immunity deal between Pagliano and the Justice Department, and how that could affect this civil case. There are different types of immunity deals, and until now it hasn’t been clear which type applies to Pagliano. (Politico, 6/3/2016) (The Hill, 6/3/2016)

June 1, 2016: More emails relating to Clinton and the Clinton Foundation will be publicly released.

US District Court Judge Ketanji Jackson (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

US District Court Judge Ketanji Jackson (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

US District Court Judge Ketanji Jackson orders USAID [The US Agency for International Development] to make public more Clinton-related emails.

In December 2015, The Republican National Committee (RNC) filed two Freedom of Information Act requests to USAID. One was for all emails between the 16 top USAID officials and a number of web domains related to Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea Clinton, or the Clinton Foundation. The second was for all emails between those top USAID officials and ten former State Department officials considered close to the Clintons.

Eight hundred pages of emails matching the request will be made public by July 11, 2016. USAID says it needs to consult with the State Department regarding another 2,600 pages. Judge Jackson wants a timetable for the release of those, but that is still to be determined.

Politico reports, “The requests appear to focus on Clinton critics’ claims that the activities of the Clinton Foundation and of some former aides to the Clintons improperly influenced official business at the State Department and USAID.”

Jackson was appointed by President Obama. (Politico, 6/1/2016)

June 1, 2016: Fox News reports that the recently released State Department inspector general’s report increases “the likelihood and pressure” that the FBI will pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

This is according to an unnamed “intelligence source familiar with the FBI investigation.” This source says, “It is very harmful to her and increases the likelihood and pressure on [the Department of Justice] to indict. […] [The report] is not evidence in itself, but it clears up confusion [about] Department of State rules and makes the IG [inspector general] a witness, and the people they interviewed, to her computer antics being done without permission.”

The FBI would need to recommend an indictment before the Justice Department would decide to move forward with the case or not.

The source also says that the report “will be useful as rebuttal, potential evidence in 18 USC 1001 charges and establishing aspects of 18 USC 793.” “18 USC 1001” is a reference to a statute known as the “false statements statute.” “Materially false” statements given to a federal officer could result in five years in prison per violation. “18 USC 793” is a reference to a statute which is part of the Espionage Act, and is known as the “gross negligence” statute. (Fox News, 6/1/2016)

June 3, 2016: Former Secretary of State Albright says nobody will die due to Clinton’s emails.

Madeleine Albright appears on CNN's 'New Day' with Chris Cuomo on June 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Madeleine Albright appears on CNN’s ‘New Day’ with Chris Cuomo on June 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Madeline Albright tries to defend Clinton in her email scandal. “She has said she made a mistake, and nobody is going to die as a result of anything that happened on emails.” Albright then turns to criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Albright was secretary of state under Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton. (Politico, 6/3/2016)

June 5, 2016: Sanders criticizes the Clinton Foundation.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is asked in an interview about the Clinton Foundation. He says, “If you ask me about the Clinton Foundation, do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many millions of dollars from foreign governments, many governments which are dictatorships? Yeah I do.” He points out the human rights violations of governments that have heavily donated to the foundation, such as Saudi Arabia. When asked if the foundation’s activities represent a potential conflict of interest, Sanders replies, “Yes, I do.” (Real Clear Politics, 6/5/2016)

Sanders had previously avoided criticizing the foundation. (Real Clear Politics, 4/8/2016)

June 6, 2016: The State Department won’t process a FOIA request with important political implications until after the presidential election.

David Sirota (Credit: David Sirota)

David Sirota (Credit: David Sirota)

In July 2015, journalist David Sirota filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain all of Clinton’s correspondence regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In November 2015, the State Department told Sirota that the request would be fulfilled by April 2016. But on this day, the department pushes the deadline back to the end of November 2016—just after the general presidential election in early November.

While Clinton was secretary of state, she praised the TPP on over 45 different occasions and called it the “gold standard” of trade deals. Since then, she says she’s changed her mind and is against it. Sirota wants to know how involved she was in crafting the deal. This could have important political implications because Clinton’s chief primary opponent Bernie Sanders is strongly against the TPP and her likely general election opponent Donald Trump is against it as well. The average FOIA request made of the State Department takes 111 days to process, but based on the latest day, this one will take 489 days.

CNN journalist Jake Tapper comments, “The Department Inspector General [IG] in January noted that the State Department is particularly weak among Obama administration agencies when it comes to fulfilling the obligations of this law, the IG said that responses to these requests are deficient, that there aren’t enough personnel at the State Department to carry out all the requests, and that State Department leaders have not played a meaningful role in making any improvements. At a certain point, one begins to wonder if these weaknesses are deliberate and that these efforts to conceal information do not conceal a certain disdain for the public and your right to know.” (CNN, 6/6/2016)

June 6, 2016: Because of FBI Director Comey, Republican Congresspeople would “probably” accept an FBI decision not to recommend Clinton’s indictment.

Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Lyn DeBruin / The Associated Press)

Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Lyn DeBruin / The Associated Press)

House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R) is asked if he and other Republicans in Congress would accept no indictment recommendation from the FBI. “Probably, because we do believe in [FBI Director] James Comey. I do think that in all of the government, he is a man of integrity and honesty. […] His finger is on the pulse of this. Nothing happens without him, and I think he is going to be the definitive person to make a determination or a recommendation. We’ll see where that goes.” (Politico, 6/6/2016)

June 6, 2016: The FBI is treating everything on Clinton’s private server as evidence or possible evidence in their Clinton investigation.

Jason Leopold (Credit: FOIA Project)

Jason Leopold (Credit: FOIA Project)

In a legal case, Vice News journalist Jason Leopold has tried to get the FBI to reveal more details of their investigation. The FBI has refused to do so, but in a court filing, the FBI comments: “[A]ll of the materials retrieved from any electronic equipment obtained from former Secretary Clinton for the investigation are evidence, potential evidence, or information that has not yet been assessed for evidentiary value.” Furthermore, the release of any of that additional information “could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation.” (The Hill, 6/8/2016)

June 7, 2016: Pagliano is revealed to have received a limited immunity that leaves him open to prosecution.

Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano files a copy of his immunity deal with the Department of Justice as part of a civil suit presided over by US District Judge Emmet Sullivan. Pagliano asks that the deal remain secret, and Sullivan will agree to that several days later. However, in making the filing, Pagliano’s lawyers mention that he was granted “derivative use” immunity in December 2015.

LawNewz explains this form of immunity “does not prevent the government from prosecuting Pagliano, but just limits them from using any evidence derived from Pagliano’s testimony against him.” His lawyers are arguing that what he might say in a deposition in this court case could be used against him in the FBI’s Clinton investigation, despite the immunity deal. (LawNewz, 6/7/2016)

June 8, 2016: The names of CIA officials could have been revealed through a combination of the content of Clinton’s emails and the classification markings on them.

Stewart Baker (Credit: Diego M. Radzinsch / National Law Journal)

Stewart Baker (Credit: Diego M. Radzinsch / National Law Journal)

The Associated Press reports that after Clinton’s 30,000 work-related emails were turned over to the State Department, 47 of them were marked with the notation “B3 CIA PERS/ORG” to justify why certain passages were redacted.

Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and a former NSA legal counsel, says, “Start with the entirely plausible view that foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton’s server.” Then those agencies could compare the full emails with the redacted versions and use the B3 CIA markings to find the meaning of names that otherwise might not be obvious. Baker says, “Presto—the CIA names just fall off the page.”

An unnamed US official says the risk of the names of CIA personnel being revealed in this way is “theoretical,” since it is unknown if other governments hacked Clinton’s server to get their own full versions of the emails. (The Associated Press, 6/8/2016)

June 8, 2016: Clinton claims the Clinton Foundation only made “one or two” disclosure mistakes.

Clinton interviewed by Anderson Cooper on June 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton interviewed by Anderson Cooper on June 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

CNN journalist Anderson Cooper asks Clinton, “[Republican presidential candidate Donald] Trump has said he is clearly going to focus on the Clinton Foundation. Last night he said the Russians, Saudis, Chinese all gave money to the foundation and got favorable treatment in return. The foundation has raised huge sums of money for worthy causes; it’s always not been transparent though. Tens of millions of dollars come from a Canadian partnership so that the donors could remain secret, [and] there was a large donation from Algeria not submitted to State Department for approval. If you are president, will your husband divest himself of any association with the foundation?”

Clinton replies, “We will cross that bridge if and when we come to it. Let me just try to set the record straight. We had absolutely overwhelming disclosure. Were there one or two instances that slipped through the cracks? Yes. But was the overwhelming amount of anything that anybody gave the foundation disclosed? Absolutely.”

When Cooper presses if Bill Clinton would step down from the foundation if Hillary is elected president, Hillary replies, “Again, I’m not going to consider anything until we see what the circumstances are.” (Real Clear Politics, 6/8/2016)

June 8, 2016: Clinton doesn’t remember signing an agreement that classified markings don’t matter.

Clinton interviewed by Brett Baier on June 8, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

Clinton interviewed by Brett Baier on June 8, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

Clinton is asked by Fox News host Bret Baier, “You said you sent or received nothing that was marked classified. But you did sign a nondisclosure agreement, an NDA, in 2009 that said markings don’t matter whether it’s marked or unmarked. Do you remember signing that?”

Clinton replies, “No, I do not. But the fact is, nothing that I sent or received was marked classified and nothing has been demonstrated to contradict that.” (Fox News, 6/8/2016) 

In fact, on January 22, 2009 and under penalty of perjury, Clinton did sign an NDA that stated, “classified Information is marked or unmarked classified Information.” (The Washington Post, 2/4/2016(US Department of State, 11/5/2015)

June 8, 2016: It remains unknown if the State Department’s legal office was aware of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

While deposed in a civil lawsuit by Judicial Watch, State Department official Karin Lang declines to say whether or not the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser was aware of Clinton’s private server. She also declines to say whether the department’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process or searches were adequate when Judicial Watch in 2013 requested records that could have included emails from Clinton.

Lang is accompanied by four lawyers for the State and Justice departments in the deposition, and they object that such questions violate attorney-client privilege or are a legal judgment. (The Washington Post, 6/8/2016)

June 9, 2016: State Department lawyers argue they cannot identify which department employees conducted government business on Clinton’s private server.

In a court filing in a civil suit, they argue they cannot do this since the department has never been in possession of the server. It is known that Clinton and her deputy chief of staff had clintonemail.com email accounts on the server, but it is still unclear who else at the department may have. Apparently, Department officials have not tried to check if emails sent from Clinton’s former top aides had email addresses ending in clintonemail.com. (CNN, 6/9/2016)

June 9, 2016: Clinton says there is “zero chance” the FBI’s Clinton investigation will pose a problem in the presidential general election.

In an interview, she adds that there is “absolutely no possibility of an indictment. There is no basis for it, and I’m looking forward to this being wrapped up as soon as possible.” (Politico, 6/9/2016)

June 10, 2016: Justice Department lawyers want the details of Pagliano’s immunity deal to remain a secret.

Bryan Pagliano was Clinton’s computer technician, and he made an immunity deal with the Justice Department in late 2015.

Several days earlier his lawyers revealed to federal judge Emmet Sullivan that it was a limited “derivative use” immunity deal. But they argue that releasing more details of “Mr. Pagliano’s agreements with the United States could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation.” Furthermore, “The FBI cannot publicly disclose the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such investigation without adversely affecting the investigation.” (Politico, 6/10/2016)

 Several days later, Sullivan will agree to keep the details a secret.

June 10, 2016: A Congressperson claims Clinton’s “top secret” emails reveal classified means, methods, and human assets.

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

Republican Representative Chris Stewart, as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has access to unredacted versions of Clinton’s emails, including her 22 “top secret” emails. He says of Clinton, “She did reveal classified means. She did reveal classified methods. She did reveal classified human assets.”

Stewart, a former Air Force pilot, adds, “If I had behaved that way in the military, I would be very concerned about my legal future.” (The Guardian, 6/10/2016)

June 10, 2016: President Obama officially endorses Clinton in her presidential race.

President Obama endorses Clinton for president on June 10, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

President Obama endorses Clinton for president on June 10, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

The endorsement comes two days after the last major Democratic primaries and after Clinton won a majority of the pledged delegates for the Democratic nomination.

Republicans criticize the move, due to the FBI’s ongoing Clinton investigation. For instance, Senator John Cornyn (R) claims that Obama’s endorsement is a conflict of interest and a special counsel is needed to avoid political pressure on the investigation. (Politico, 6/9/2016)

June 10, 2016: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calls the FBI’s Clinton investigation a “criminal investigation” despite Clinton’s claims that it is a mere “security inquiry.”

Josh Earnest (Credit: MSNBC)

Josh Earnest (Credit: MSNBC)

When asked if the FBI could be facing political pressure from Clinton, Earnest says that President Obama “has reiterated his commitment to this principle that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any sort of political interference.”

Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Short soon comments, “The White House’s admission that the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server as a ‘criminal’ matter shreds her dishonest claim that it is a routine ‘security inquiry.’” Earnest later comments that he has no inside knowledge of the exact nature of the investigation. (Politico, 6/9/2016)

June 10, 2016: Blumenthal confirms he had no security clearance when Clinton was secretary of state.

In a Fox News interview, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal is asked if he ever had security clearance when exchanging emails with Clinton, given that many of her emails were later deemed to contain classified material. He responds, “I was her friend, and I had no security clearance, nor did I seek it, nor did anyone ever send me anything that was classified. So I had no access to, nor did I send or receive any classified material.”

Curiously, he also comments about the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, who broke into his email inbox in 2013: “Marcel Lazar is a Romanian. He worked from a Russian server. He may well be part of a Russian information operation.” (Fox News, 6/11/2016)

June 10, 2016: The media’s focus on Trump lessens coverage about Clinton’s email scandal.

Chuck Todd (Credit: NBC)

Chuck Todd (Credit: NBC)

Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd says, “You know, ten days ago is when the [State Department] IG [inspector general] report came out on emails. The last ten days could have been about nothing but emails, nothing but negatives about Hillary Clinton. We could be talking about Democratic hand-wringing, but there’s Donald Trump. Enough said.”

Todd is referring to the way Republican presidential candidate Trump’s flamboyant manner and his own controversies dominate news coverage. (The Washington Examiner, 6/10/2016)

June 12, 2016: WikiLeaks says it will be making public more of Clinton’s previously unpublished emails.

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

In an interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is asked if his organization has any of Clinton’s “undisclosed emails.” He replies, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” and “We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton pending publication, that is correct.” He also says, “There is very strong material both in the emails and in relation to the Clinton Foundation.”

He believes this contains enough evidence for the FBI to recommend Clinton’s indictment: “We’ve accumulated a lot of material about Hillary Clinton. We could proceed to an indictment.”

He doesn’t specify when or how many emails might be published. Asked about the FBI’s Clinton investigation, he believes the Justice Department will do the bidding of President Obama and so they will not indict Clinton. (The Guardian, 6/12/2016(ITV, 6/12/2016)

Several days later, a hacked using the nickname Guccifer 2.0 shares files from a recent hack of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and claims to have given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks. (Wired, 6/15/2016) (Vice News, 6/15/2016) 

Before June 14, 2016: US officials allegedly warn the Trump, Sanders, and Clinton campaigns that sophisticated hackers are attempting to breach their computers.

A June 21, 2016 Bloomberg News article claims the warnings came before the hack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was made public on June 14, 2016. However, it’s unclear when the warnings happened exactly. This is according to one unnamed “person familiar with the government investigation into the attacks.”

But the Trump campaign won’t respond to questions about the warnings, and Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs says he isn’t aware of the warnings.

Bloomberg News will comment, “Information about the scope of the attacks and the government warnings raises new questions about how long the campaigns have known about the threats and whether they have done enough to protect their systems.” (Bloomberg New, 6/21/2016

It has been reported that the Clinton campaign and related organizations have been attacked by hackers, but there have been no confirmed attacks on the Trump or Sanders campaigns. (Bloomberg News, 6/17/2016)

June 14, 2016: A federal judge refers to the FBI’s Clinton investigation as a “criminal investigation.”

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is presiding over a case in which former Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano is fighting giving a deposition. Sullivan comments, “The privacy interests at stake are high because the government’s criminal investigation through which Mr. Pagliano received limited immunity is ongoing and confidential.” As part of the case, Sullivan is privy to information from the FBI that has not been made public.

Politico points out that this is the first “explicit confirmation that the investigation—which Clinton has repeatedly referred to as a ‘security review’—is actually a criminal probe.” (Politico, 6/14/2016)

June 14, 2016: Pagliano’s immunity deal will remain secret and he will be privately videotaped.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is presiding over a civil suit in which he wants Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano to be deposed under oath and answer questions from Judicial Watch about Clinton’s email server. Pagliano has said he will plead the Fifth Amendment due to receiving an immunity deal with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Sullivan orders the immunity deal to be submitted to the court, but declares that details of the deal will not be made public, stating, “In the Court’s opinion, the need for public access to Mr. Pagliano’s agreement with the government is minimal.”

Pagliano also petitioned not to be videotaped, but Sullivan denies this request. Sullivan previously ruled such a video recording would remain under seal and not publicly released, and that will still be the case. Pagliano had been scheduled to be deposed on June 6, 2016. Sullivan orders him and Judicial Watch to arrange a new date for it before the end of June. (Politico, 6/14/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/14/2016)

June 14, 2016: Hackers allegedly linked to the Russian government broke into the DNC’s files.

Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC. (Credit: public domain)

Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC. (Credit: public domain)

The Washington Post reports that the emails, text messages, and other computer files of The DNC [Democratic National Committee] were accessed by two groups allegedly linked to Russia. Opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was stolen.

One group known as Cozy Bear broke into the DNC’s network a year ago and maintained access without getting caught. The other group known as Fancy Bear, apparently working independently, did so much more recently. These same hackers also probed the networks of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, as well as some Republican political action committees, but it is unknown if those attacks succeeded.

The first hacking group typically uses “spear phishing” to gain access. This is when an email appears to come from a someone the recipient knows but actually is meant to trick that person into activating embedded malicious code by clicking on an attachment or link. (Wired, 6/14/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/14/2016

Forbes comments that the “Holy Grail of Russian intelligence is uncovering compromising material that can be used to embarrass, manipulate, or blackmail foreign political leaders.” Furthermore, “If the DNC’s cyber secrets are open to Russian intelligence hackers, the odds are overwhelming that they have Clinton’s private emails as well, especially given that Clinton’s private server was a target of the highest value.” This means Clinton could be blackmailed or otherwise manipulated by Russia as well. Forbes also notes how both cases involved spear phishing. (Forbes, 6/14/2016) 

Clinton was targeted by spear phishing at least three times, twice in May 2011, and once in July 2011. It is unknown if any of those attacks succeeded. (US Department of State, 10/30/2015) (US Department of State, 3/5/2015) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

June 14, 2016: Clinton claims to have just learned about the DNC network breach, and inaccurately claims her campaign has not been similarly targeted.

In an interview, Clinton is asked about a news report from earlier in the day that hackers allegedly linked to the Russian government breached the computer network of the DNC [Democratic National Committee]. She is asked the general question, “What can you tell us about that incident? How worrisome is it?”

She replies, “I only learned about it when it was made public. And it is troubling, just as all cyber-attacks against our businesses and our institutions, our government are. The Russians—and according to the reporting—who did this hacking were most likely in the employment of the Russian government.”

She also comments without being prompted, “So far as we know, my campaign has not been hacked into and we’re obviously looking hard at that.” (The Hill, 6/14/2016)

But two days later, Forbes reports that a security company hired by the Clinton campaign has determined many of her campaign staffers have been targeted by hackers in recent months, and there are indications some of their email accounts could have been breached. (Forbes, 6/16/2016)

June 15, 2016: A hacker nicknamed Guccifer 2.0 posts files showing they were behind the DNC hack.

(Credit: public domain)

(Credit: public domain)

One day after the Washington Post reported that alleged Russian hackers broke into the DNC’s [Democratic National Committee] computer network, a man using the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” creates a new website on the Internet showing that person got the DNC files. Guccifer 2.0 likely has no connection to Guccifer, who is now in a US prison, but seems inspired to take the name due to Guccifer’s earlier hacking notoriety.

He posts a 200-page opposition research file on Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump dating from December 2015, as well as other computer files from the DNC. The files include a sample of donor information, contradicting the DNC’s claim from the day before that no financial information had been stolen.

Guccifer 2.0 also claims to have given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks. This comes several days after WikiLeaks head Julian Assange promised to post more of Clinton’s emails soon. The security firm CrowdStrike was hired to investigate the DNC hack, and they claimed to be confident that it was a sophisticated operation done by two hacking groups with ties to the Russian government.

However, Guccifer 2.0 claims to be working independently, and says of CrowdStrike, “I’m very pleased the company appreciated my skills so highly. But in fact, it was easy, very easy.”

However, CrowdStrike stands by their original claim and suggests the new website could be “part of a Russian intelligence disinformation campaign.” (Wired, 6/15/2016) (Vice News, 6/15/2016) 

NBC News reports that “several Democratic sources familiar with the party’s opposition research efforts said they believed opposition research book to be authentic. It also includes links to data stored on internal DNC servers, which would not accessible to people outside the committee.” (NBC News, 6/15/2016)

June 15, 2016: Two-thirds of US voters think Clinton did something wrong in setting up her personal email address and server.

(Credit: CBS News)

(Credit: CBS News)

According to a CBS News poll, 41 percent think what she did was illegal and another 25 percent think it was improper but not illegal. Only 26 percent of voters say she did nothing wrong. (CBS News, 6/15/2016)

In a November 12, 2015 McClatchy-Marist poll, 28 percent thought she did something illegal and another 40 percent thought it was improper but not illegal, while 27 percent believed she did nothing wrong. (McClatchy Newspapers, 11/12/2015)

June 16, 2016: Recent alleged Russian hacking attacks appear to have focused on Clinton and the DNC and not other presidential campaigns.

SecureWorks Logo (Credit: SecureWorks)

SecureWorks Logo (Credit: SecureWorks)

SecureWorks is a cybersecurity company that apparently has been hired to investigate recent leaks targeting US government officials, departments, and related entities. Focusing on the hacking group known as Fancy Bear (or APT 28), they conclude with “moderate confidence that the group is operating from the Russian Federation and is gathering intelligence on behalf of the Russian government.” They also conclude that the group targeted Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].

However, SecureWorks have not observed Fancy Bear “[target] the US Republican party or the other US presidential candidates whose campaigns were active between mid-March and mid-May [2016]: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.” But they point out the other campaigns could have been targeted by other means not noticed by them. (SecureWorks, 6/16/2016)

June 16, 2016: Various clues suggest that “Guccifer 2.0” could be a front for Russian hacking efforts.

Copy of the metadata and the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky, written in the Cyrillic alphabet. (Credit: Ars Technica)

Copy of the metadata and the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky, written in the Cyrillic alphabet. (Credit: Ars Technica)

On June 15, 2016, someone going by the name “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to be the “lone hacker” behind the breach of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] computer network reported in the media the day before.

However, various clues support the assertion by security experts hired by the DNC that the hacking effort is connected to the Russian government or at least originates from Russia:

  • The metadata of one file sent by Guccifer 2.0 to Gawker contains metadata indicating the last person to change the file used the nickname for Felix Dzerzhinsky (Феликс Эдмундович), a long-dead Russian statesman best known for founding the Soviet secret police.
  • The nickname is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which means Guccifer 2.0’s computer was configured to use the Russian language and was connected to a Russian-language keyboard.
  • Another file contains some broken web links. The error message is also written in Russian, using the Cyrillic alphabet.
  • A blog post written by Guccifer 2.0 uses “)))” to indicate a smiley face. This is common in Eastern Europe and Russia but very uncommon elsewhere, due to differences with the Russian-language keyboard. (Ars Technica, 6/16/2016)
  • Other metadata indicates the person who saved the files used a cracked version of Office 2007, which is popular in Russia.
  • Vice News reports that Guccifer 2.0 had no online history prior to June 15, and “multiple security sources said they’d never heard of nor seen anyone by that alias” before that date. (Vice News, 6/16/2016)
  • Dave Aitel, CEO of Immunity Security, comments, “You don’t have the FBI or DHS [Department of Homeland Security] coming out and saying: ‘Hey we don’t think it’s Russia.’ If it is Russia, a nation state, it’s a pretty big deal. Otherwise the FBI would say: ‘We’re conducting an investigation.’ But they’re not saying that.”

Ars Technica comments, “Of course, it’s still possible that the Russian fingerprints were left intentionally by someone who has no connection to Russia, or by a Russian-speaking person with no connection to the Russian government, or any number of other scenarios.” (Ars Technica, 6/16/2016)

June 17, 2016: Former FBI agents are wondering why the FBI’s Clinton investigation is taking so long.

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Former FBI agent and former district attorney Edward C. Cosgrove says that he has been in contact with other former FBI agents, and “Most former FBI agents cannot understand why the FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not been concluded.”

He wonders why the investigation has gone on for about a year, and yet it “has not been turned over to the attorney general [Loretta Lynch] for her prosecutive judgment.” (The Buffalo News, 6/17/2016)

June 17, 2016: A “deadman’s switch” file increases speculation that WikiLeaks could soon release more Clinton documents.

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the "deadman's switch" and a "risk insurance" picture. Credit: public domain)

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the “deadman’s switch” and a “risk insurance” picture. Credit: public domain)

WikiLeaks posts on the Internet an 88-gigabyte encrypted file labeled “WIKILEAKS INSURANCE,” along with the comment, “Protect our coming publications.” This is believed to be a “deadman’s switch,” meaning that unless WikiLeaks personnel are not there to periodically confirm their status, the file will be automatically decrypted, revealing its contents to those who have downloaded it. WikiLeaks have posted several similar files in previous years.

Heavy.com notes that because of recent comments by WikiLeaks head Julian Assange that the organization will soon be publishing more of Clinton’s emails, “many people are wondering if this insurance file is meant to ensure that WikiLeaks can release potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” The file is large enough to contain millions of files if they are all text-based files, but it could include video or other files that take up much more space.

Heavy.com also notes that the reason WikiLeaks doesn’t simply post the files right away is, “The organization often combs through files to redact any sensitive information that might put lives in danger. The INSURANCE file is typically the unredacted version.” (Heavy.com, 6/17/2016)

June 17, 2016: Some cybersecurity experts doubt the Russian government is behind recent hacking attacks.

Nathaniel Gleicher (Credit: Carmen Holt)

Nathaniel Gleicher (Credit: Carmen Holt)

Time Magazine notes that although CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to stop the hacking of their computer network, claims the Russian government is behind the attacks, other security experts are skeptical. Someone calling themselves “Guccifer 2.0” has posted some files that appear to come from the DNC hack, and that person claims to be a “lone hacker.”

CrowdStrike asserts this is just an effort to sow confusion about Russian involvement, but some experts doubt that as well.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the former director for cybersecurity policy on the NSC [National Security Council], says, “Attribution is incredibly difficult—I wouldn’t say impossible, but it’s very difficult.”

Reg Harnish, the CEO of the cybersecurity company GreyCastle Security, says the final answer may still be unknown, with political intrigues complicating the picture. “I’ve been personally involved in hundreds of these investigations, and you just don’t end up in the same place where you began. […] I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there right now.”

Scott Borg, the head of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, echoed the skepticism. “Our best guess is that the second (and apparently less skillful) of the two intruders was not Russian intelligence. We are also uncertain about the first group.”

So far, the FBI has not made any comment. (Time, 6/17/2016)

June 18, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 publishes more of the DNC’s financial documents.

A sample of the data released by Guccifer 2.0, revealing personal information of DNC donors. (Credit: Guccifer 2.0)

A sample of the data released by Guccifer 2.0, revealing personal information of DNC donors. (Credit: Guccifer 2.0)

Two days after emerging to post some DNC [Democratic National Committee] documents on the Internet, the hacker known by the nickname Guccifer 2.0 publishes some more.

This person comments on their new website, “It appears there are a lot of financial reports, donors lists, and their detailed personal information, including e-mail addresses and private cell phone numbers…I got tons of files and docs.” This person also promises to post more soon.

Business Insider notes: “The Washington Post’s initial report stated that the hacker’s avoidance of donor information indicates that the breach was likely the work of ‘traditional espionage,’ but the new information posted by Guccifer 2.0, if legitimate, seems to discredit that line of thinking.”

The DNC has not confirmed that the documents are genuine, but has not denied it either. It is unknown who Guccifer 2.0 is, but security experts hired by the DNC assert the Russian government is behind the leaks. (Business Insider, 6/18/2016)

June 18, 2016: Trump says Sanders is waiting for the FBI to knock Clinton out of the presidential race.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump notes that Bernie Sanders hasn’t quit the Democratic primary race despite Clinton having a majority of the pledged delegates and even more superdelegates. Trump says, “He’s waiting for the FBI to do what everybody thinks they’re going to do. I think he’s saying, ‘Let’s hang in there because it’s ultimately called the FBI convention. […] We’ll see if the right thing happens.’ Everybody knows what the right thing is.”

Sanders hasn’t made any comment that he’s waiting for the FBI’s decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment or not. (CNN, 6/18/2016)

June 19, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch say she’s never spoken with President Obama about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

“We’ve never discussed the Clinton case. I’ve never spoken about it with the president or really anyone at the White House. That’s not the kind of relationship that I have with the people there, and it would be inappropriate to do so.”

She also says Obama’s recent endorsement of Clinton doesn’t create a conflict of interest, even though she’s an Obama appointee. “I don’t get involved on whom the president endorses.” (The Hill, 6/19/2016)

June 20, 2016: The RNC files a motion in a civil suit demanding that the State Department speed the release of emails from three former top Clinton aides.

Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 12, 2012. (Credit: Getty Images)

Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 12, 2012. (Credit: Getty Images)

Two weeks earlier, the department claimed it could take 75 years to process the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request by the RNC [Republican National Committee]. The RNC is asking for more emails from Under Secretary of Management Patrick Kennedy, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano. They have dropped a request for emails from former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, due to the department’s claim of being overwhelmed.

The RNC criticizes the department’s “tortoise-like” response, and claims it is using “stall tactics” and misleading legal tricks in order to delay the release until after the November 2016 presidential election. It lambasts the department’s claim that it can process only 500 pages of emails a month, noting that would set a historical record for the slowest department response time to FOIA requests.

It is probable that the emails would contain previously unknown emails to and from Clinton, since recently released emails from former Clinton aide Huma Abedin have done so. (The Hill, 6/21/2016)

June 20, 2016: Two more cybersecurity companies support CrowdStrike’s conclusion that the Russian government was behind the recent hack of the DNC computer network.

Michael Buratowski (Credit: FidelisCybersecurity)

Michael Buratowski (Credit: FidelisCybersecurity)

The companies are Fidelis Cybersecurity and Mandiant. They base their analysis on five malware samples used in the hacking attack. Fidelis executive Michael Buratowski says, “Based on our comparative analysis, we agree with CrowdStrike and believe that the Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear…groups were involved in successful intrusions at the DNC [Democratic National Committee] . […] The malware samples matched the description, form and function that was described in the CrowdStrike blog post. In addition, they were similar and at times identical to malware that other [research firms] have associated to these actor sets.”

However, the Washington Post reports, “It is also possible, researchers said, that someone else besides the Russians were inside the DNC’s network and had access to the same documents.” (The Washington Post, 6/20/2016) 

A law firm reviewing the DNC attack, Baker & McKenzie, has begun working with three cybersecurity companies to review CrowdStrike’s findings. Fidelis Cybersecurity is one of them, along with FireEye and Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016) (Fidelis Cybersecurity, 6/20/2016)

June 21, 2016: The FBI recovers 302 previously lost Clinton emails from a Gmail account; two of them were deemed classified when they were sent.

In February 2014, an unnamed Platte River Networks (PRN) employee created a Gmail email account and briefly transferred all of Clinton’s emails into it from a back-up of Clinton’s server made in the spring of 2013. He transferred the Clinton emails to a new version of this server, but most of the emails on this server will later be destroyed. He also will tell the FBI that he deleted all of the emails from his Gmail account after completing the transfer.

However, the FBI will later report that on June 21, 2016, FBI investigators discovered 940 Clinton emails that were still on the Gmail account somehow. It has not been explained if the PRN employee simply failed to delete them all or if deleted emails were recovered.

All of the 940 emails date from October 25, 2010 to December 31, 2010. 56 of them were later deemed to be classified at the “confidential” level. 302 of them were not in the over 30,000 emails that Clinton gave to the State Department in December 2014. It has not been specified how many of these were deemed work-related. But of the 302 emails, the FBI gave 18 of them to other departments to for classification review. The State Department decided one email was classified “secret” when it was sent, but then later was downgraded to “confidential.” Another email was “confidential” when it was sent and later downgraded to be unclassified. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

June 21, 2016: The Clinton Foundation’s computer network was recently successfully hacked by alleged Russian hackers.

Bloomberg News reports this is according to three unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” Clinton Foundation officials say they haven’t been notified of the attack and refuse to say more. The breach was discovered as recently as one week earlier.

The attack appears to be part of a larger sweep of attacks that has targeted at least 4,000 email accounts of people connected to US politics since about October 2015. Many of the targets appear to be linked to Clinton.

Bloomberg News comments, “The thefts set the stage for what could be a Washington remake of the public shaming that shook Sony in 2014, when thousands of inflammatory internal emails filled with gossip about world leaders and Hollywood stars were made public.”

Someone going by the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” has been releasing documents from a hack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] but it is unknown if this person is linked to the foundation attack. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

June 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases 261 more files from the DNC hack.

This is the third release by Guccifer 2.0 of files from the DNC [Democratic National Committee] in a week. Guccifer 2.0 claims on his website, “It’s a big folder of docs devoted to Hillary Clinton that I found on the DNC server.” The files are compilations of news reports and other publicly available documents on existing or likely Democratic candidates from around April 2015, and the vast majority of the files contain information from that time or earlier. Nearly all the files are about Clinton, noting stories that could hurt her and often countering them with pro-Clinton talking points.

The DNC has neither confirmed nor denied that Guccifer 2.0 files come from the DNC breach, but Mother Jones notes that the “new trove of documents [were] apparently pilfered from the [DNC].” (Mother Jones, 6/21/2016)