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)