If you have read the timelines on the website already, it’s not easy to figure out where the latest additions are. So! This is where you can read all of the recently added entries, based on the date they were added to the site. The batches are listed in reverse chronological order, with the latest batches listed first.
- 31 October 2016 addenda (9)
- 30 October 2016 addenda (10)
- 29 October 2016 addenda (12)
- 25 October 2016 addenda (1)
- 23 October 2016 addenda (3)
- 22 October 2016 addenda (5)
- 20 October 2016 addenda (4)
- 19 October 2016 addenda (6)
- 18 October 2016 addenda (8)
- 17 October 2016 addenda (1)
- 16 October 2016 addenda (2)
- 15 October 2016 addenda (1)
- 14 October 2016 addenda (7)
- 13 October 2016 addenda (3)
- 12 October 2016 addenda (3)
- 11 October 2016 addenda (3)
- 10 October 2016 addenda (5)
- 9 October 2016 addenda (9)
- 7 October 2016 addenda (4)
- 6 October 2016 addenda (2)
- 5 October 2016 addenda (1)
- 3 October 2016 addenda (4)
- 1 October 2016 addenda (1)
- 30 September 2016 addenda (1)
- 29 September 2016 addenda (7)
- 27 September 2016 addenda (1)
- 26 September 2016 addenda (1)
- 25 September 2016 addenda (7)
- 24 September 2016 addenda (2)
- 22 September 2016 addenda (2)
- 20 September 2016 addenda (1)
- 19 September 2016 addenda (1)
- 18 September 2016 addenda (6)
- 16 September 2016 addenda (13)
- 15 September 2016 addenda (8)
- 14 September 2016 addenda (12)
- 13 September 2016 addenda (6)
- 12 September 2016 addenda (3)
- 11 September 2016 addenda (4)
- 10 September 2016 addenda (9)
- 9 September 2016 addenda (11)
- 8 September 2016 addenda (7)
- 7 September 2016 addenda (7)
- 6 September 2016 addenda (19)
- 5 September 2016 addenda (13)
- 4 September 2016 addenda (9)
- 3 September 2016 addenda (4)
- 2 September 2016 addenda (6)
- 1 September 2016 addenda (2)
- 31 August 2016 addenda (8)
- 30 August 2016 addenda (3)
- 29 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 28 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 27 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 26 August 2016 addenda (2)
- 25 August 2016 addenda (4)
- 24 August 2016 addenda (5)
- 23 August 2016 addenda (4)
- 22 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 21 August 2016 addenda (2)
- 20 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 19 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 14 August 2016 addenda (4)
- 13 August 2016 addenda (4)
- 12 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 10 August 2016 addenda (1)
- 31 July 2016 addenda (1)
- 30 July 2016 addenda (7)
- 29 July 2016 addenda (9)
- 28 July 2016 addenda (6)
- 27 July 2016 addenda (3)
- 23 July 2016 addenda (2)
- 22 July 2016 addenda (10)
- 21 July 2016 addenda (4)
- 17 July 2016 addenda (5)
- 15 July 2016 addenda (10)
- 14 July 2016 addenda (3)
- 13 July 2016 addenda (3)
- 12 July 2016 addenda (1)
- 9 July 2016 addenda (13)
- 8 July 2016 addenda (13)
- 7 July 2016 addenda (11)
- 5 July 2016 addenda (1)
- 3 July 2016 addenda (4)
- 30 June 2016 addenda (6)
- 28 June 2016 addenda (5)
- 26 June 2016 addenda (1)
- 24 June 2016 addenda (11)
- 23 June 2016 addenda (3)
- 22 June 2016 addenda (9)
- 21 June 2016 addenda (12)
- 20 June 2016 addenda (13)
- 18 June 2016 addenda (21)
- 17 June 2016 addenda (20)
- 16 June 2016 addenda (10)
- 15 June 2016 addenda (7)
- 14 June 2016 addenda (21)
- 13 June 2016 addenda (12)
- 12 June 2016 addenda (1)
- 11 June 2016 addenda (6)
- 10 June 2016 addenda (9)
- 3 June 2016 addenda (8)
Eric Holder, the US attorney general from 2009 until 2015, writes a memo during the 2012 US presidential race outlining Justice Department policy on how to avoid interfering in elections. It states that department employees (which includes the FBI) “must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.” If an employee is “faced with a question regarding the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election,” that person should contact the department’s public integrity section “for further guidance.”
The department has had such policies for decades, and they usually are restated every presidential election, but the memo adds clarity to them. (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016) (US Department of Justice, 3/9/2012)
This department policy will be tested in 2016, when the FBI reopens an investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before Clinton is on the ballot for the US presidential election.
March 2, 2015: Clinton’s campaign chair privately says “we are going to have to dump all” of Clinton’s emails.
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta emails Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers at the time, as well as being her former chief of staff. He writes, “On another matter….and not to sound like Lanny, but we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do so sooner than later.”
Mills replies with a joke, “Think you just got your new nick name :).” (WikiLeaks, 11/1/2016)
This is in reference to the New York Times front-page story from earlier in the day, publicly revealing that Clinton exclusively used a private email account while secretary of state.
“Lanny” is a likely reference to Lanny Davis, who was a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and is a longtime media surrogate for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Less than a week later, Davis will publicly advocate that Clinton should be transparent with her emails.
By saying “dump,” Podesta could mean dump them to the public, or he could mean get rid of them. Unfortunately, there are no more comments from him or Mills to help clarify his meaning.
These emails will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
March 8, 2015: A Clinton surrogate suggests a neutral party could review Clinton’s private server; this secretly upsets Clinton’s campaign manager.
Lanny Davis was a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and is a longtime media surrogate for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Speaking to journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News, he says regarding Clinton’s emails on her private server, “There can be a neutral party to review all these records. Nothing unlawful-”
Wallace asks, “You’d like to have a neutral party? … [D]o you think that’s a reasonable idea?”
Davis replies, “I think it is a reasonable idea if anybody has any doubts that there’s a delete on a hard drive-”
Wallace interrupts, “To have an independent party go inspect her private email?”
Davis responds, “I think there is a reasonable idea. If the State Department asks, she will say yes.” (Fox News, 3/8/2015)
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “We gotta zap Lanny out of our universe. Can’t believe he committed her to a private review of her hard drive on TV.” (WikiLeaks, 11/1/2016)
Podesta’s reply, if any, is unknown. The Mook email will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
Clinton will never agree to a neutral review of her server. Later in the month, an employee of the company managing her server will delete and wipe all the emails from her server.
September 28, 2016: When asked if he would reopen the Clinton email investigation, Comey says he “would certainly look at any new and substantial information.”
During an appearance before a Congressional committee, FBI Director James Comey is questioned by Representative Lamar Smith (R): “[W]ould you reopen the Clinton [email] investigation if you discovered new information that was both relevant and substantial?”
Comey replies, “It is hard for me to answer in the abstract. We would certainly look at any new and substantial information.”
Smith then asks, “In general – and let’s personalize it – in general, if you discover new information that was substantial and relevant, you would reopen an investigation, would you not?”
Comey replies, “Again, even in general I don’t think we can answer that in the abstract. What we can say is that any investigation if people have new and substantial information we would like to see it so we can make an evaluation.” (US Congress, 9/28/2016)
Exactly one month later, on October 28, 2016, Comey will announce that he is at least partially reopening the investigation, due to newly discovered emails.
Mid-October 2016: Comey is first told that FBI investigators have discovered previously unknown emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
On October 3, 2016, FBI agents seized the computer and mobile devices of former Congressperson Anthony Weiner (D) as part of an investigation into him allegedly sending sexual text messages to an underaged girl. FBI agents soon came to believe that thousands of emails on his computer were actually sent or received by his wife and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and thus might be relevant to the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation.
According to CNN on October 31, 2016, “By mid-October, [FBI Director James] Comey learned investigators in the Weiner case might have found something that could have an impact on the now-closed probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to one law enforcement official. Comey was told investigators were still trying to figure out how many emails existed and their pertinence to the Clinton probe.”
Comey will then be given a full briefing with updated information on October 27, 2016. Based on that briefing, he will send a letter to Congress the next day announcing that he is reopening the investigation due to the new evidence. (CNN, 10/31/2016)
October 29, 2016: Clinton’s campaign intensifies its criticism of Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being at least partially reopened, due to newly discovered emails. This was immediately leaked to the general public.
One day later, Clinton comments, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange. It’s unprecedented. And it is deeply troubling.”
Her campaign chair John Podesta says, “Twenty-four hours after that letter was sent, we have no explanation why. No-one can separate what is true or is not because Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts.” He suggests that “by providing selective information, [Comey] has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage.” He declines to say whether Comey should be retained as FBI director if Clinton wins.
Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook says that Comey “owes the public the full story or else he shouldn’t have cracked open this door in the first place.”
By contrast, Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesperson Michael Short says, “The Clinton campaign was happy to praise Director Comey when it was politically convenient, but now that the FBI has found thousands of new emails pertinent to their investigation, they’re attacking him and mischaracterizing his letter to Congress.” (Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)
October 29, 2016: Both Republican and Democratic senators want more information from the FBI about the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened due to the discovery of potentially relevant new evidence. But his letter is only three paragraphs long and is very vague. Subsequent media reports say the evidence is newly discovered emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The next day, four Democratic senators – Patrick Leahy, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and Benjamin Cardin – write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Comey, asking for more information. They want to know, by October 31, 2016, more details of the investigative steps being taken, the number of emails involved, how many of the emails are duplicates of those already known.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a similar letter to Comey. “In line with your commitment to be transparent with Congress and the public, I respectfully request that the FBI provide as much information as possible about these new developments without harming the integrity of its ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)
October 29, 2016: A former Justice Department official claims that Comey’s “self-righteousness” has caused him to ignore the wishes of his superiors.
Matt Miller served as Justice Department spokesperson when Eric Holder was attorney general. He says it is “stunning” that FBI Director James Comey decided to inform Congress about the reopening of the Clinton email investigation just 11 days before the US presidential election despite the opposition of Justice Department leadership.
Miller adds, “[James] Comey forgets that he works for the attorney general. … I think he has a lot of regard for his own integrity. And he lets that regard cross lines into self-righteousness. He has come to believe that his own ethics are so superior to anyone else’s that his judgment can replace existing rules and regulations. That is a dangerous belief for an FBI director to have.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)
October 30, 2016: The FBI obtains a warrant for Huma Abedin’s recently discovered emails and immediately begins analyzing them.
When FBI Director James Comey informed Congress on October 28, 2016 that the Clinton email investigation was at least partially reopening due to newly discovered evidence, the agents who had been working on the investigation didn’t have the legal clearance to see the evidence. Possibly previously unknown emails sent to and from Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found on a computer belonging to her husband Anthony Weiner, due to an FBI investigation into his alleged sexual texting to an underaged girl.
Immediately after Comey sends the letter to Congress, the FBI and the Justice Department begin working on getting a search warrant from a judge so the FBI agents from the Clinton email investigation can read the emails. Two days later, on October 30, 2016, the warrant is obtained.
The FBI immediately begins working to analyze the emails and learn as much as possible about them before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, little more than a week away. One unnamed federal law enforcement official says, “The process has begun.”
The New York Times reports that although “agents had discovered hundreds of thousands of Ms. Abedin’s emails on her husband’s computer [out of an estimated 650,000 emails], but investigators expected to seize only a portion of the total. Agents will have probable cause to search only the messages related to the Clinton investigation. Some of Ms. Abedin’s emails passed through Mrs. Clinton’s private server, officials said, which means there is a high likelihood that the FBI has already read them.”
It is not clear what the scope of the search warrant is, for instance, if it only covers emails from the time Clinton was secretary of state, or if it includes emails from the years afterwards, which might show evidence of a cover-up.
The Times also reports that “senior Justice Department officials said they would make all resources available to conduct the investigation as quickly as possible, saying Mr. Comey’s letter — just days before the election — gave the matter an unprecedented urgency.” (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)
October 31, 2016: Huma Abedin has no idea how her emails got on her husband’s computer, according to her lawyer.
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced in a letter that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened. Media reports quickly indicate this is due to 650,000 emails found on a computer, with some of them belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Since Comey’s letter was made public, Abedin has kept out of sight and hasn’t made any public comments. But on this day, Karen Dunn, a lawyer for Abedin, releases a statement. She claims that while some media reports claim the computer was shared by Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner (who has recently separated from her), it belonged solely to Weiner.
Additionally, Dunn says that Abedin “only learned for the first time on [October 28, 2016], from press reports, of the possibility that a laptop belonging to Mr. Weiner could contain emails of hers. While the FBI has not contacted us about this, Ms. Abedin will continue to be, as she always has been, forthcoming and cooperative.” She adds that Abedin has always been fully cooperative about any government inquiry into her emails.
Politico reports that Abedin has privately told colleagues she was taken aback to hear that the FBI found the emails. Furthermore, an unnamed “source close to the investigation” asserts that “no one asked” Abedin for consent to look at the emails, and the FBI has gotten a warrant from a judge instead. (Politico, 10/31/2016)
Clinton campaign manager John Podesta says of Abedin, “of course [the Clinton campaign] stands behind her.” He also says that “As far as we know everything that we had” belonging to Clinton and her top aides was turned over and reviewed by the time Comey announced he would not recommend any indictments in July 2016.
(Bloomberg News, 10/29/2016)
October 31, 2016: FBI investigators believe some newly discovered Huma Abedin emails were deleted from Clinton’s private server before the FBI took possession of it.
Three days after FBI Director James Comey made his surprise announcement that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to the discovery of emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, CNN reports that FBI agents still don’t know what is in the emails. However, it has been reported that at least some of the email metadata has been examined, and “Investigators believe it’s likely the newly recovered trove will include emails that were deleted from the Clinton server before the FBI took possession of it as part of that earlier investigation.”
Also, “investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed [Clinton email] investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed. [But] because they didn’t have a warrant specific to Abedin’s emails, [they] weren’t able to further examine them.”
However, “FBI officials don’t yet know how many of the emails are duplicates of emails they already have reviewed as part of the Clinton email server investigation and whether any of them may contain classified information.” (CNN, 10/31/2016)
October 31, 2016: The FBI begins analyzing Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails.
On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant, allowing its agents who had taken part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation to have access to hundreds of thousands of emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to the New York Times, by the next day, the FBI begins using a special computer program that can help FBI analysts determine whether the emails contain classified information.
Clinton turned over about 30,000 of her emails to the State Department in December 2014, and deleted about another 31,000. The FBI recovered about 17,000 of those deleted emails during its investigation, which concluded in July 2016. The program should allow analysts to learn relatively quickly how many emails are previously known copies. Abedin also had an email account on Clinton’s server, and there are thousands of her emails not sent to or from Clinton, but their exact number is unknown.
One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “This is not a manpower issue. It’s an issue of getting the emails into a program that can allow agents to look at them.”
The FBI is under intense pressure to complete its review before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, just over one week away. However, if previously unknown emails are discovered, it could take weeks or months for various government departments to confer and agree upon their classification status.
If more classified emails are found, that likely will not cause new legal difficulties for Clinton or Abedin, because many such emails already were found, but FBI Director James Comey said that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments without evidence of criminal intent.
The Times comments that “What could cause problems for Ms. Abedin — and by extension Mrs. Clinton — is if the FBI finds evidence that anyone tried to conceal these new emails from investigators. Ms. Abedin has said she turned over all her emails to the FBI months ago and does not know how emails ended up” on the computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
(The New York Times, 10/31/2016)
October 31, 2016: The White House stays out of the controversy about Comey’s decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says the Obama Administration “will neither defend nor criticize what [FBI] Director [James] Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation.” He is referring to Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter informing Congress that the FBI is at least partially reopening its Clinton email investigation, just 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. Earnest says the White House has no recommendations for Comey over what information to give to the public.
Additionally, President Obama “doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot.” (CBS News, 11/1/2016)
Earnest says the White House has no independent knowledge as to why Comey made the decision to inform Congress as he did. He adds that Obama believes Comey is a “man of integrity.”
Yet Earnest also says that government officials have powers which “are tempered by longstanding practice and norms that limit public discussion of facts that are collected in the context of those investigations. … The president believes that it’s important for those guidelines and norms to be followed.” (Reuters, 10/31/2016) (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)
It will remain publicly unknown until the video is leaked to Fox News in October 2016.
In the video, Clinton says that employees have a “special duty” to recognize the importance of cybersecurity. “The real key to cybersecurity rests with you. Complying with department computing policies and being alert to potential threats will help protect all of us.”
According to a later account by Fox News, “Clinton goes on in the video to underscore the important work the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IT department were doing to guard against cyber-attacks. She warns hackers try to ‘exploit’ vulnerabilities and penetrate department systems. She then urges staffers to log onto the internal cybersecurity awareness website or subscribe to their ‘cybersecurity awareness newsletter.’”
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will later find the video ironic, given Clinton’s own security issues with her private email server. He will say, “Hillary Clinton needs only to look into the mirror to find the biggest cybersecurity risk.”
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will say, “This is not new. It has been widely reported that during Clinton’s tenure the State Department issued these kinds of warnings about possible cybersecurity to employees. These warnings were more than appropriate given that it was subsequently confirmed that State’s email was hacked.” (Fox News, 10/22/2016)
April 15, 2015: A computer expert privately advises the Clinton campaign to hire a company to investigate if Clinton’s private server was hacked.
Barbara Simons, a renowned computer expert, writes Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in an email, “I am following up on our very brief discussion, held as you were leaving the DA meeting, about Hillary Clinton’s emails. I’ve included a summary of the issues and a precautionary step that I think should be taken.”
Simons attaches a short document to the email, which is entitled, “Hillary Clinton’s emails and what to do about them.” In it, she writes, “I believe that this is a more serious situation than perhaps Secretary Clinton and her aides realize. … There is a very real risk that the system was broken into, possibly by Republican operatives (or China or some other country or organization). If this has happened and if there is anything that might appear problematic in those emails, whether or not it actually is, the relevant emails might be released to the press shortly before the election. Even if the system was not broken into, there is the threat that opponents might release forged emails that are difficult to impossible to distinguish from real ones.”
As a result, she and a prominent computer security expert Jeremy Epstein suggest that the Clinton campaign hire a cybersecurity company called Mandiant. They are said to be competent and discrete in dealing with major corporate hacks. They will try to determine if Clinton’s private server was hacked. However, Simons notes that “if nothing serious is uncovered by a forensics examination, that does not prove that nothing happened. Regrettably, the absence of proof of a break-in is not proof of the absence of a break-in.” (WikiLeaks, 10/23/2016)
Whatever reply Podesta gives is unknown. It is also unknown if Mandiant or any other company is ever hired. However, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report will make no mention of any evidence of such a forensic examination.
February 2016: The Justice Department declines to give the FBI Clinton Foundation investigation the legal authority for more investigative powers, but the investigation continues anyway.
In the summer of 2015, the FBI begins investigating the Clinton Foundation. By early 2016, four FBI field offices (New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Arkansas) have been pursuing information about the foundation.
In February 2016, FBI officials make a presentation to the Justice Department, apparently trying to get more legal authority, such as subpoena power, which can only come from the Justice Department agreeing to empanel a grand jury. The FBI had gained evidence from at least two informants who came up in other investigations and were critical of the foundation. It also may have learned of a suspicious bank transaction by this time.
The meeting is held in Washington, DC, and is attended by FBI officials, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section, and Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Robert Capers, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will later play a key role in the conflict between the FBI and Justice Department, but neither he nor prosecutors from his office attend. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)
The Wall Street Journal will report on this in October 2016: “By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well. Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anti-corruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy, and dismissive of the case. ‘That was one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,’ one participant told others afterward, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The Journal will add, “Anti-corruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand jury activity. But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.”
As a result, the FBI foundation investigation(s) will continue, but without subpoena power and other common investigative powers. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
Not long after the meeting, the Justice Department will allegedly send a message for all offices to “stand down,” but that won’t stop the investigation either.
March 2, 2015—March 3, 2015: Clinton’s campaign manager privately says “We brought up the existence of [Clinton’s] emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
On March 2, 2015, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta emails Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, and asks him, “Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?” He is referring to the New York Times front page story from earlier in the day about Clinton exclusively using a private email account while secretary of state.
Mook replies, “Nope. We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of.”
The emails will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/27/2016)
Mid-July 2016: The FBI reorganizes its Clinton Foundation investigation, despite the involvement of an FBI official with a potential conflict of interest.
On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend indicting anyone targeted in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. That effectively closed the investigation. The FBI still has an ongoing investigation in the Clinton Foundation, with four FBI field offices taking part.
About one week after Comey’s announcement, the FBI seeks to refocus the Clinton Foundation investigation. Andrew McCabe is the associate deputy FBI director at the time, the number three position in the FBI, but by the end of the month he is promoted to deputy FBI director, the number two position. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office will take the lead, with assistance from the Little Rock, Arkansas office.
The Washington field office will instead focus on an investigation involving Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D). McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he became governor in 2013, and some media reports indicate the investigation concerns a Chinese businessperson who donated millions of dollars to the foundation. McCabe recused himself from the McAuliffe investigation because political organizations linked to McAuliffe donated over $700,000 to the state senate election campaign of McCabe’s wife in 2015. However, McCabe does not recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation.
According to the Journal, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined. Others, particularly Justice Department anti-corruption prosecutors, felt that both probes were weak, based largely on publicly available information, and had found little that would merit expanded investigative authority.”
The Justice Department previously declined to empanel a grand jury for the foundation investigation, and still doesn’t give it the additional investigative powers that would come with grand jury backing. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
CNN will add that as part of the reorganization, agents in the Los Angeles, Little Rock, and Washington, DC. field offices, are told to turn over their files to the FBI New York office. “Agents were told to continue their work. But the order to the other field offices angered agents there.”
Additionally, during this meeting or in subsequent meetings over the next month, the New York office is told not to take any major steps in the investigation until after the US presidential election on November 8, 2016. CNN will report that “some agents [in New York] chafed at the decision that they had to sit and wait until after the election.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)
August 12, 2016: A Justice Department official allegedly attempts to shut down the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, but it continues.
Since 2015 or earlier, multiple FBI field offices have been involved in an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. However, in February 2016, the FBI appealed to the Justice Department for additional investigative powers, such as having a grand jury empaneled to gain subpoena power, but the department said no. The investigation continued anyway, without the additional powers the department can give.
In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report that on August 12, 2016, an unnamed senior Justice Department official calls Andrew McCabe (who was promoted to deputy FBI director one month earlier) to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents are still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation investigation during the election season, with Hillary Clinton being one of the major candidates.
McCabe allegedly replies that FBI agents still have the authority to pursue the issue as long as they don’t use methods requiring Justice Department approvals.
The Journal will report, “The Justice Department official was ‘very pissed off,’ according to one person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant. Others said the Justice Department was simply trying to make sure FBI agents were following longstanding policy not to make overt investigative moves that could be seen as trying to influence an election. Those rules discourage investigators from making any such moves before a primary or general election, and, at a minimum, checking with anti-corruption prosecutors before doing so.”
McCabe allegedly asks the department official, “Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?”
After a pause, the official allegedly replies, “Of course not.”
The Journal will further report, “For Mr. McCabe’s defenders, the exchange showed how he was stuck between an FBI office eager to pour more resources into a case and Justice Department prosecutors who didn’t think much of the case, one person said. Those people said that following the call, Mr. McCabe reiterated past instructions to FBI agents that they were to keep pursuing the work within the authority they had.”
But according to “others further down the FBI chain of command,” FBI agents “were given a much starker instruction on the case: ‘Stand down.’ When agents questioned why they weren’t allowed to take more aggressive steps, they said they were told the order had come from the deputy director—Mr. McCabe. Others familiar with the matter deny Mr. McCabe or any other senior FBI official gave such a stand-down instruction.”
According to the Journal, some agents within the FBI believe that McCabe and other FBI leaders weren’t defending the investigation strongly enough, while others believe that McCabe’s behavior was correct. Either way, the investigation continues, but still without that subpoena power that can only come from Justice Department support. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
McCabe has a conflict of interest with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who in turn is being investigated by the FBI for activities that could involve the Clinton Foundation.
September 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation tries but fails to get access to possibly relevant emails found in the Clinton email investigation.
Although the FBI’s Clinton email investigation was closed in July 2016, the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation continues, though it never has had grand jury backing and thus no subpoena power.
The email investigation uncovered many thousands of emails on non-government computers belonging to Clinton and some of her aides, and many of these same people had obvious roles with the Clinton Foundation. As a result, sometime in September 2016, Clinton Foundation investigators ask to have access to the emails found in the Clinton email investigation.
But that request is rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information. Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter.”
However, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe allegedly tells them no and says they can’t “go prosecutor shopping.”
In early October 2016, a different FBI investigation will find emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin on a previously unknown computer, leading to a different legal issue about sharing information between various FBI investigations.
It appears the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation still has not been given access to the possibly relevant emails found by the Clinton email investigation. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
October 27, 2016: Comey is briefed and decides to announce the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, but Justice Department officials are strongly opposed.
In early October 2016, FBI agents discovered 650,000 emails on a computer owned by Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Though the agents were investigating Weiner for something unrelated, they eventually brief FBI agents who had worked on the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation, and those agents say they would like to have the legal permission to look at the emails themselves.
Apparently, FBI Director James Comey first learns about the emails in mid-October 2016. Then he is given an updated briefing about it on this day. He decides he should immediately inform Congress about the development, even though the 2016 US presidential election is less than two weeks away. He does so in a letter sent one day later, which immediately becomes public.
However, Justice Department officials are opposed. According to the New York Times, “Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”
According to the Times, Comey decides to write his letter “before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.” This puzzles Justice Department officials. Apparently, some agents were only able to analyze the metadata.
It has long been Justice Department and FBI policy that politics should play no role in any investigative decisions. This is particularly emphasized for any actions taken within 60 days prior to an election. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)
One unnamed “US official familiar with the matter” tells Yahoo News that senior officials “strongly discouraged” Comey from sending the letter, due to that department policy, adding, “He was acting independently of the guidance given to him.” One government source says that high-ranking Justice Department officials are “apoplectic” about the letter.
However, after listening to the Justice Department’s concerns, Comey concludes that the ramifications of not telling Congress promptly about the new emails far outweigh concerns about the department guidelines. He fears if he doesn’t immediately alert Congress, the FBI’s work will leak to the media and he will be accused of concealing information. If the news comes out before the election, he will be accused of trying to influence the election one way, but if it comes out after the election, he will be accused of trying to influence it the other way. One unnamed senior official says, “This was the least bad choice.”
Many will criticize Comey for the letter, including some Republicans. For instance, George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush (R), says, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election. Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences. There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.” (The New York Times, 10/29/2016) (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)
Politico reports that according to an unnamed “official familiar with the discussions,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not speak directly with Comey about the issue. However, her concerns are conveyed to him before he sends the letter. In late June 2016, Lynch pledged to recuse herself from the email investigation after she was seen having a private discussion with Bill Clinton. (Politico, 10/31/2016)
October 30, 2016: The FBI’s Miami field office is said to be involved in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, possibly targeting activities in Latin America.
On this day, the Wall Street Journal reports that FBI field offices in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC. and Little Rock, Arkansas, have been investigating the Clinton Foundation for possible financial and political corruption. All the offices have been involved since at least February 2016, though there was a reorganization in mid-July 2016, with the New York office taking the lead.
Later on the same day, the Daily Caller reports that at some point the FBI field office in Miami, Florida, has also joined the investigation. Further details are not given except that “The Clinton Foundation has numerous programs operating in Haiti, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.” The Miami office would be the closest to all those locations. (The Daily Caller, 10/30/2016)
The Daily Caller’s claim is given additional credence because the author of the article, Richard Pollock, also wrote an article in August 2016 claiming the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation was in existence at a time when nearly all other media outlets failed to report that. That article mentioned details, such as the investigation was being led by the FBI’s New York field office in conjunction with Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, that have since been reported elsewhere. (The Daily Caller, 8/11/2016)
March 7, 2015—Mid-July 2016: Donations to a state senate election lead to potential conflicts of interests in three FBI investigations for a high-ranking FBI official.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is widely considered the best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and was co-chair of one of Bill’s presidential campaigns and the chair of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2016, McAuliffe says, “We’re best friends, I’ve been family friends with the Clinton’s for thirty years. It’s a great relationship, we vacationed together for years, we’re just very personal friends…” (The Valley’s Music Place, 3/31/2016)
On March 7, 2015, McAuliffe and other state Democratic Party leaders meet with Dr. Jill McCabe and persuade her to run for a state senator seat in Virginia. Dr. McCabe is a hospital physician who has never run for political office before. This has potentially larger political implications, because her husband is Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who runs the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office at the time.
FBI officials will later claim that after the March 7, 2015 meeting, Andrew McCabe seeks ethics advice from the FBI and follows it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and also avoiding any of his wife’s campaign activities or events.
Five days before Jill McCabe is asked to run, on March 2, 2015, the New York Times publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address, and her use of a private email server is revealed two days later, starting a major and prolonged political controversy. Jill McCabe announces her candidacy on March 12, 2015.
On July 10, 2015, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally begins, although it may have informally begun earlier.
Andrew McCabe’s Washington, DC, field office provides personnel and resources to the investigation. At the end of July 2015, he is promoted to assistant deputy FBI director, the number three position in the FBI.
During the 2015 election season, McAuliffe’s political action committee (PAC) donates $467,500 to Jill McCabe’s campaign. Furthermore, the Virginia Democratic Party, ”over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control,” according to the Wall Street Journal, donates an additional $207,788 to her campaign. “That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him.”
This represents more than a third of all the campaign funds McCabe raises in the election. She is the third-largest recipient of funds from McAuliffe’s PAC that year.
On November 3, 2015, Jill McCabe loses the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. Once the campaign is over, “[Andrew] McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” according to the Journal.
In February 2016, Andrew McCabe is promoted to deputy FBI director, the second highest position in the FBI. In this role, he is part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions are made by FBI Director James Comey.
However, that is not the only potential conflict of interest. By February 2016, four FBI field offices are conducting investigations of the Clinton Foundation. McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he resigned when he became the governor of Virginia in 2013. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)
Also, at some point in 2015, if not earlier, the FBI begins conducting an investigation of McAuliffe. When the existence of this investigation is publicly leaked in May 2016, media reports suggest it may involve McAuliffe’s financial relationship with a Chinese businessperson who has donated millions to the foundation. It is also reported that investigators have looked at McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. (CNN, 5/24/2016)
In the spring of 2016, Andrew McCabe agrees to recuse himself from the McAuliffe investigation, due to McAuliffe’s donations to Jill McCabe’s election campaign. However, he doesn’t recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation or the Clinton email investigation, despite McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)
In mid-July 2016, the FBI seeks to reorganize the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office should take the lead, while the Washington office that he formerly headed should take the lead with the McAuliffe investigation. The Journal will later report, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined.” However, the decision is implemented.
McCabe also is involved in an effort to shut down the foundation investigation in August 2016, but his role is unclear.
In October 2016, McCabe’s potential conflicts of interest will be revealed by two Wall Street Journal articles. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016) In early November 2016, the Journal will report that “some [in the FBI] have blamed [McCabe], claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)
Around that time, James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI’s New York office, will say of McCabe, “The guy has no common sense. He should be demoted and taken out of the chain of command.” (The American Spectator, 11/1/2016)
An FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation begins around the summer of 2015, after the publication of the controversial book Clinton Cash in May 2015. The author Peter Schweizer will be interviewed multiple times by the FBI. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)
In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report: “The probe of the foundation began… to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
In November 2016, CNN will comment on the investigation starting due to Clinton Cash: “It’s not uncommon for FBI probes to begin as a result of or be fueled by published news articles or books.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)
The investigation will continue, but the Justice Department will not give the FBI subpoena powers, keeping the investigation limited and hobbled.
April 5, 2016: Huma Abedin gives hints about her multiple email accounts that the FBI fails to properly follow up on.
Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, is interviewed by the FBI. During the interview, she discloses she had four email accounts while working at the State Department:
- an official State Department email account.
- an account on Clinton’s clintonemail.com private email server.
- a personal Yahoo account.
- another personal email account that she had previously used to support the political activities of her husband Anthony Weiner.
Abedin says she “routinely” forwarded State Department emails and documents to both her clintonemail.com account and her Yahoo account so she could more easily print them.
She is asked about one classified email sent to her State Department account from an aide to Richard Holbrooke, a special State Department envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She had forwarded the email to her Yahoo account in order to print it, but tells the FBI she was “unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of material she received. Instead, she relied on the sender to make that assessment and to properly make and transmit the document.”
In October 2016, it will be discovered that copies of at least some of Abedin’s emails wound up on the computer of her husband Weiner, leading FBI Director Comey to at least partially reopen the Clinton email investigation. Yahoo News will later suggest that Abedin’s FBI interview offered hints that “there might be relevant material on her husband’s personal devices. But agents do not appear to have followed up on the clues.” Furthermore, “there is no indication” for the FBI interview summary that the FBI “ever pressed her on what has now turned into an explosive issue in the final days of the 2016 campaign:”
Joseph DiGenova, who Yahoo News will describe as “a former US attorney and independent counsel who has been a strong critic of Comey and the FBI probe,” will call this evidence that the FBI investigation was “not thorough” and was “fatally flawed.” He will add, “The first thing [FBI agents] should have done was gotten a sworn affidavit about all her accounts and devices.” Then they should have immediately attempted to obtain the devices, including Weiner’s.
On June 28, 2016, Abedin will be deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. Testifying under oath, she will give answers that differ from her FBI interview. When asked about her email accounts, she will claim she rarely used her personal Yahoo account, and when she did she only used it to forward State Department “press clips” so she could print them. (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)
October 3, 2016—October 28, 2016: FBI agents investigating a sex scandal find evidence that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation, and superiors grant permission to reopen that investigation.
On October 3, 2016, FBI agents investigating the possible sending of sexually charged messages to a teenage minor by former Representative Anthony Weiner, seize Weiner’s computer laptop. Agents soon discover that the laptop contains 650,000 emails, and many of them belong to Huma Abedin, who is a top Clinton aide as well as Weiner’s wife (although they recently separated).
The FBI agents notify Andrew McCabe, the second highest ranking FBI official, about this. They suggest some emails could be previously unknown to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, which was closed in July 2016. In an initial review, metadata shows that thousands of emails were sent to or from the private email server that formerly hosted private email accounts of Clinton and Abedin. However, the FBI has searched the laptop looking for child pornography, and the search warrant used doesn’t give them the authority to look for evidence related to the Clinton email investigation.
Senior FBI officials allow the Weiner investigators to proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and then report back.
FBI Director James Comey is first told about the emails around the middle of October 2016.
Around October 25, 2016, senior Justice Department and FBI officials are given an update on the Weiner laptop.
McCabe tells agents working on the Weiner investigation to talk to agents who worked on the Clinton email investigation and decide whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to their work. The Clinton email investigation agents agree the emails could be potentially relevant. However, no warrant has yet been pursued to give them legal permission to look at the emails.
On October 27, 2016, Comey is given an updated briefing on the situation, and he decides to inform Congress that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. He does so one day later, even though Justice Department officials strongly object to making such an announcement only 11 days before the 2016 US presidential election. The necessary warrant is obtained two days later. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
October 28, 2016: Carl Bernstein says the FBI’s announcement must mean there is a “real bombshell” in the newly discovered evidence.
Reporter Carl Bernstein, best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal, comments on the FBI’s surprise announcement that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. “We don’t know what this means yet except that it’s a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the director of the FBI [James Comey] would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified emails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation.”
He also says, “Right now we’re all talking in a vacuum but I want to add here that in the last, oh, 36, 48 hours, there has been an undercurrent of kind of speculative discussion among some national security people that something might surface in the next few days about emails, and I think the expectation in this chatter — and I took it as just chatter but informed chatter, to some extent — was that it would relate to another round of WikiLeaks emails, which our Justice Department people seem to be saying is not the case, but there has been some noise in the national security community the last day or two of this kind of possibility of some kind of revelation.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/28/2016)
October 30, 2016: WikiLeaks promises a new phase of releases related to the US presidential election.
Wikileaks announces on Twitter that “We commence phase 3 of our US election coverage next week.” This comes only nine days before the US presidential election.
There are no further details or clues regarding what “phase 3” will be. Presumably, the first phase was the posting of 20,00 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in July 2016, and the second phase was the posting of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta starting in early October 2016, which is still continuing. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)
October 30, 2016: Podesta claims that Huma Abedin has been fully cooperative and she doesn’t know any more than media reports.
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta is interviewed on CNN by journalist Jake Tapper about the revelation that the FBI has reopened their Clinton email investigation due to new emails involving Clinton aide Huma Abedin found on the computer of her husband Anthony Weiner.
Tapper asks, “Have you asked Huma Abedin why she did not turn over this computer that is now being reviewed by the FBI?”
Podesta avoids saying if he’s recently talked to Abedin, and comments, “Look, I think Huma’s been completely cooperative with the authorities, and they have recognized that. She’s worked with her attorneys to turn over relevant material. But we don’t know what this is all about, really. So it’s very hard…”
Tapper points out, “But, John, she hasn’t been completely cooperative if she didn’t turn over every device that had State Department emails on them, and this one computer did.”
Podesta replies, “I think it’s clear that she complied to the best of her ability turned everything over that she had in her possession. I don’t know anything more than the speculation that’s running wild in the press now about what this is about.”
Podesta also claims, “I don’t think she knows anything more than what we have seen in the press to date.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/30/2016)
October 30, 2016: A former assistant FBI director criticizes the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.
Former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom says in an interview, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean, the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.”
He also criticizes the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. “The problem here is this investigation was never a real investigation. That’s the problem. They never had a grand jury empaneled, and the reason they never had a grand jury empaneled, I’m sure, is [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would not go along with that. … The agents are furious with what’s going on, I know that for a fact.”
He also says that he is supporting Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, and calls Clinton a “pathological liar.”
Kallstrom is best known for leading the investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in the late 1990s. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)
Since July 2016, he has occasionally appeared on Fox News and claimed to be in contact with an increasing number of FBI agents upset with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.
October 30, 2016: 650,000 emails have allegedly been recently discovered by the FBI, many belonging to Huma Abedin, though many could be duplicates or unrelated.
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey announced at least a partial reopening of the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence, but initial media accounts conflicted over what exactly was found. On this day, the Wall Street Journal reports: “Investigators found 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by former [Representative] Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The Journal claims that although the FBI has received a search warrant since Comey’s announcement so the agents involved with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation can look at the newly discovered emails, “It will take weeks, at a minimum, to determine whether those messages are work-related from the time Ms. Abedin served with Mrs. Clinton at the State Department; how many are duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI; and whether they include either classified information or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.”
The emails “stretched back years,” and were found a computer laptop previously unknown by the Clinton email investigation. “Many of the 650,000 emails” are from Abedin’s email accounts, according to anonymous sources. Metadata shows that “many messages, apparently in the thousands,” were either sent to or from Clinton’s private email server. (Both Abedin and Clinton had email accounts hosted on the server.)
The Journal also depicts a long-standing dispute between the FBI, wanting to aggressively pursue leads, and the Justice Department, which often fails to give the FBI the legal approval to do so. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
October 30, 2016: The Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, but the Justice Department hasn’t given it investigative powers.
In January 2016, Fox News reported that the FBI had an on-going investigation into the Clinton Foundation, but this generally wasn’t reported or discussed in other media outlets. In August 2016, the Daily Caller reported on the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, but this also wasn’t generally reported otherwise. For instance, a CNN story that same month asserted the investigation didn’t exist.
On this day, the Wall Street Journal confirms there is an on-going FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, and provides many new details about it. The investigation began some time before October 2015. By February 2016, four FBI field offices were collecting information about the foundation to see if there is evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling:
- The Los Angeles office developed an interest in the Clinton Foundation from an unrelated public-corruption case and has issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation.
- The Washington, DC, office is investigating financial relationships involving Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), who has been a Clinton Foundation board member.
- The New York office has done the most work regarding the foundation.
- The Little Rock, Arkansas, office has had some role, probably due to the Clintons’ ties in Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was governor.
In mid-July 2016, the New York office took charge of the investigation, with the Little Rock office providing assistance.
However, the Journal also reports that senior Justice Department officials have “repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in [the FBI’s foundation investigation], sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case.”
Additionally, “Some investigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying [FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case.”
In February 2016, FBI agents presented their evidence on the foundation to senior Justice Department officials. But those officials decided not to give the investigation the legal backing to convene a grand jury, which means investigators don’t have subpoena or search warrants power. However, the investigators have continued without that power, apparently collecting much of their evidence from publicly available information.
This situation has apparently continued ever since, with the investigation continuing but hobbled due to the lack of the legal powers given by a grand jury. According to the Journal paraphrasing an unnamed official, “the [New York] FBI office [is] eager to pour more resources into [the] case and Justice Department prosecutors [don’t] think much of the case…” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
Also on October 30, 2016, the Daily Caller will allege there is a fifth FBI field office – the Miami, Florida office – involved in the investigation.
Additionally, later on the same day, the Clinton Foundation denies knowledge of any government investigation targeting them.
However, the Washington Post confirms the Wall Street Journal’s claims. The Post emphasizes that the investigation has been blocked by the Justice Department’s public integrity section prosecutors, who are not politically appointed. (The Washington Post, 10/30/2016)
March 14, 2015: The State Department tips off the Clinton campaign that a New York Times reporter is asking about Clinton’s emails.
Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill writes in an email to Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri and Robby Mook: “[The] State [Department] just called to tell me that [New York Times reporter Michael] Schmidt seems to have what appear to be summaries of some of the exchanges in the 300 emails the [House Benghazi] committee has. He shared 2 anecdotes with State, one was an exchange that [Clinton] had with Jake [Sullivan] about some of the media stories following the attacks, the other an exchange that [Clinton] had with [Clinton aide Cheryl Mills] and [Clinton aide] Huma [Abedin] on non-state.gov accounts, but that was later forwarded to a state.gov account. Again, it appears that he does not have the email but that someone, likely from the committee, is slipping him cherry-picked characterizations of the exchanges. I haven’t heard directly from Schmidt yet but will circle back when I do.”
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri replies, “This is no bueno [no good]. This is some kind of bullshit. Adding [Clinton campaign chair] John [Podesta] to this chain. If [Representative Trey] Gowdy is doing selective leaks, we are in very different kind of warfare.” (WikiLeaks, 10/29/2016)
Schmidt broke a March 2, 2015 story that Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state. The State Department gave about 300 emails to the House Benghazi Committee, chaired by Gowdy (R).
Presumably, Palmieri is upset that someone is leaking emails to a reporter, not that the State Department is sharing this information about the leak with the Clinton campaign. The department will later claim it never worked to help Clinton with her email controversy, despite emails such as this one.
The email will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016.
July 24, 2015: A longtime Clinton advisor says whoever told Clinton she could use a private email should be “drawn and quartered.”
Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered? Like whole thing is fucking insane.”
If Podesta gives any answer, it is unknown.
The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/27/2016)
August 29, 2016: Huma Abedin initiates a divorce after her husband is caught in a sex scandal; this will have an impact on Clinton’s email controversy.
Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, announces that she is separating from her husband Anthony Weiner, and is pursuing a divorce from him. This will later have an important impact on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. Weiner was a Democratic Congressperson until 2011 when he resigned due to a sexting scandal – sending sexual texts to other women that were made public. Another sexting scandal involving him ended his 2013 campaign to be mayor of New York City. Abedin’s announcement comes one day after yet more new sexting by Weiner is made public, this time allegedly to a 15-year-old girl. (The New York Times, 8/29/2016)
On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will announce that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation will be at least partially reopened due to thousands of Abedin’s emails found on a computer used by both Weiner and Abedin that was seized by the FBI as part of their unrelated investigation into Weiner’s sexting with the underaged girl.
August 29, 2016: Trump suggests it “is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised” by Clinton aide Huma Abedin sharing information with her disgraced husband.
On the day that top Clinton aide Huma Abedin announces she is pursuing a divorce from Anthony Weiner, after he was caught in yet another sex scandal, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump releases a statement on the matter: “Huma is making a very wise decision. I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him. I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.” (Donaldjtrump.com, 8/29/2016)
Trump’s comments will be recalled in late October 2016, when the FBI at least partially reopens the FBI’s Clinton email investigation after thousands of Abedin’s emails are discovered on a computer shared by Abedin and Weiner, after the computer was seized by the FBI due to an investigation into Weiner’s sex scandal.
On October 29, 2016, Trump will say regarding his August 2016 comments, “Boy, did I call that correctly.” (Politico, 10/29/2016)
October 3, 2016: The FBI seizes the electronic devices of Huma Abedin’s husband in a sex scandal case, which will lead to the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.
Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton and her former deputy chief of staff, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Congressperson who has been beset by two “sexting” scandals, in which it was publicly revealed he sent sexual text messages to other women. On August 28, 2016, the New York Post reported that Weiner had been caught in his third sexting scandal. The next day, Abedin announced she is separating from him and divorcing him. (The New York Post, 8/28/2016)
On September 21, 2016, the Daily Mail further revealed that the still unnamed woman he’d been sexting with in recent months in fact was only 15 years old. (The Daily Mail, 9/21/2016)
This raised the possibility that Weiner could face serious federal criminal charges, especially if the girl lives in a different state, which it turns out she does. (Rolling Stone, 9/22/2016)
As a result, after the Daily Mail article, top federal prosecutors in New York (where Weiner lives) and North Carolina (where the unnamed girl lives) fought over who would get to prosecute the case. The Justice Department gave the case to Preet Bharara, a US attorney in New York.
The New York Times will later report that also in late September 2016, “agents in the FBI’s New York field office understood that the Weiner investigation could possibly turn up additional emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s private server, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.”
Then, on October 3, 2016, the FBI seizes several electronic devices owned by Weiner, including a computer laptop, his iPhone, and his iPad. Several days later, FBI agents also confiscate a Wi-Fi router that could identify any other devices that he had used. This is also according to an unnamed US law enforcement official.
When FBI agents search the seized devices, they find thousands of emails sent to or from Abedin on the laptop, because apparently it was used by both Abedin and Weiner before they separated. According to unnamed “senior law enforcement officials,” some of the emails are sent between Abedin and other Clinton aides. However, only FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors directly involved in the Weiner investigation can look at the evidence, and those who took part in the Clinton email investigation, closed in July 2016, do not have the legal authority, at least not yet.
FBI Director James Comey will learn about the emails in mid-October 2016. He will be brief October 27, 2016, and he will write a letter to Congress the next day announcing that he is reopening the Clinton email investigation at least long enough to determine the possible relevance of the emails to the Clinton case. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)
October 28, 2016: Comey reveals the Clinton email investigation is at least partially reopened due to the discovery of Huma Abedin emails in an unrelated case, shocking the US presidential race just 11 days before the election.
FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, informing them that emails relevant to the Clinton email investigation have surfaced in another unrelated case, causing at least a partial reopening of the investigation. This is a major political shock and an unprecedented action, since it comes just 11 days before the US presidential election.
Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s longtime close aides and her deputy chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of state, is married to Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic Congressperson. However, she is estranged from him and began divorce proceedings against him two months earlier, due to his repeated sex scandals. In his most recent scandal, it is alleged he sent illicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. This led to an FBI investigation, and his computer and electronic devices were seized by the FBI on October 3, 2016. When his computer was examined, it was determined that it had been used by both Abedin and Weiner, and thousands of Abedin’s emails were found that could be relevant to the Clinton email investigation. That discovery in turn led to Comey being briefed on October 27, 2016, and then his surprise announcement one day later.
The New York Times reports calls Comey’s letter an “October surprise” that has “rocked” the 2016 presidential race. It has “left Mrs. Clinton’s team furious and scrambling for explanations while bolstering the spirits of Donald J. Trump after a wave of controversies and Republican defections had led many to write him off.”
Comey writes a very short letter that fails to mention many details. It states, in full: “In previous Congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.”
“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigation team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to access their importance to our investigation.
“Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
Later the same day, Comey also sends a short letter to all FBI officials, explaining his decision to send the letter. It is immediately leaked to the public. In it, he says, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)
The New York Times further reveals that Comey was only briefed about the emails the day before, and they have not yet been closely examined. “A senior law enforcement official said that tens of thousands of emails belonging to Ms. Abedin were on Mr. Weiner’s laptop…” However, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.” It is also unknown how many could be duplicates of previously known emails. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
The Washington Post reports, “The correspondence included emails between Abedin and Clinton, according to a law enforcement official.” (The Washington Post, 10/28/2016)
October 28, 2016: The White House allegedly gets no advance notice of Comey’s letter.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz speaks to reporters about FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress announcing that he is at least partially reopening the Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered emails. Schultz says, “We got it through press reports. We had that letter after it was made public, so we did not have advance warning.”
He adds, “The president’s expectation is that all FBI efforts follow the facts wherever they lead.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)
October 28, 2016: Trump praises Comey’s letter and says “this changes everything.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.
At a campaign rally, Trump says, “Perhaps, finally, justice will be done. … Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” For weeks, he had been highly critical of the FBI, but now he says, “I have great respect for the fact that the FBI and the [Justice Department] are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake that they made. This was a grave miscarriage of justice that the American people fully understand. It is everybody’s hope that it is about to be corrected.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
He adds in a brief New York Times interview, “I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate. I think this changes everything.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
October 28, 2016: Democrats criticize Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.
Prominent Democratic politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta says, “Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the director himself notes they may not even be significant. … It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.”
Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), says, “The FBI has a solemn obligation to remain neutral in political matters — even the faintest appearance of using the agency’s power to influence our election is deeply troubling.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), says, “This is particularly troubling since so many questions are unanswered. … It’s unclear whether these emails have already been reviewed or if Secretary Clinton sent or received them. In fact, we don’t even know if the FBI has these emails in its possession.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
October 28, 2016: Republicans applaud Comey’s announcement regarding the FBI’s discovery of new information relevant to the Clinton email investigation.
Prominent Republican politicians react to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin.
Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus says, “The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. … This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) says, “Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” He argues that she should no longer be allowed to receive classified briefings. (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
October 28, 2016: Clinton encourages Comey to release all the information the FBI has that led him to reopen the Clinton email investigation.
Clinton reacts to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Clinton email investigation has been at least partially reopened due to the discovery of more emails in the possession of her aide Huma Abedin. Clinton says, “We are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has. Let’s get it out.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016) She adds, “We don’t know the facts, which is why we are calling on the FBI to release all the information that it has.” (Politico, 10/29/2016)
She also says, “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already underway in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. We’ve heard these rumors. We don’t know what to believe. That is why it is incumbent on the FBI to tell us what they are talking about. Because right now your guess is as good mine, and I don’t think that is good enough.” (Politico, 10/28/2016)
The call for more information is bipartisan. For instance, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence also urges the FBI to “immediately release all the emails pertinent to their investigation.” (The New York Times, 10/28/2016)
October 29, 2016—November 1, 2016: It is said there is “no chance” the FBI will be able to finish reviewing newly discovered emails before the US presidential election.
One day after FBI Director James Comey told Congress that he is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation after more emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found, the New York Times reports that “Law enforcement officials have begun the process to get court authority to read the emails.” This is according to unnamed US government officials. FBI agents involved in the illicit texting case of Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner found the emails and can read them, but the agents involved in renewed Clinton email investigation still cannot.
Some reports indicate there are tens of thousands of emails to be reviewed. As a result, “How soon they will get that [legal permission] is unclear, but there is no chance that the review will be completed before Election Day, several [unnamed] law enforcement officials said.” The 2016 US presidential election is only ten days away. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)
One day later, USA Today reports, “Though the volume of emails is substantial… authorities have not completely ruled out the possibility of completing the review by Election Day.” (USA Today, 10/30/2016)
But one day after that, Politico reports, “[I]t seems impossible that a full analysis will be completed by Election Day… because if potentially classified messages that haven’t been found before are located, they will have to be farmed out to various intelligence agencies for classification review. That interagency process often takes months.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)
February 1, 2015: Clinton’s staff asks the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to report Hillary’s economic policies in a “progressive” light.
Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill writes an email to several Clinton staffers, describing two stories the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are preparing to publish that will be covering Clinton’s economic policies.
Merrill writes, “Both will have a dose of personnel name-gaming, and I’ve spoken to both to steer them towards progressive names, which they seem to both have on their own. I want to give both stories something on the record that addresses the core of the story, but also speaks some of the things we all felt needed a little proactive addressing, like inevitability and timing.”
Merrill then suggests the core of the stories will be about, “Increasing access to opportunity and fighting for upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers in every job she’s held. You heard it from her on the campaign trail last fall, where she laid out the challenges we face. She’s casting a wide net, talking to a wide range of people on a range of specific topics. There’s no red X on a calendar somewhere, but make no mistake, if she runs, she will take nothing for granted, she’ll present bold ideas, and she will fight for every vote.” (Wikileaks, 10/24/2016)
One week later, the New York Times publishes an article by Amy Chozick, entitled “Economic Plan is a Quandry for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” As hoped, the core of the story Merrill mentions in his email is covered in the article and is included as a quote by Bill Clinton’s previous treasury secretary:
“’It’s not enough to address upward mobility without addressing inequality,’ said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration who is among those talking with Mrs. Clinton. ‘The challenge, though, is to address inequality without embracing a politics of envy.’”
Chozick then “steers” readers to several other “progressive names” and writes, “Several of Mr. Clinton’s former advisers, including Alan S. Blinder, Robert E. Rubin and Mr. Summers, maintain influence. But Mrs. Clinton has cast a wide net that also includes Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality; Alan B. Krueger, a professor at Princeton and co-author of ‘Inequality in America’; and Peter R. Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who focuses on retirement issues, is also playing a prominent role.” (New York Times, 2/7/2015)
A few days after that, The Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Laura Meckler entitled, “Hillary Clinton Economic Plan to Chart Center-Left Course.” The article appears to be less “steered” by the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t include “a dose of personnel name-gaming” and offers a more balanced approach between what the liberal base of the Democratic party hopes for, as opposed to Clinton’s more centrist economic positions. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2015)
Because one of the recipients of this email is Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, it will be released by Wikileaks in October 2016.