2008: A government guide explains how to deal with the accidental mention of classified information.

The US government posts an internal guide on how to deal with “spillage”—the common term for classified information accidentally getting onto an unclassified system. The guide, “National Instruction on Classified Information Spillage,” explains how such errors should be assessed and reported. One step mentioned for more severe cases is: “Determine whether the incident should be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation and/or criminal prosecution.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

November 28, 2010: WikiLeaks releases over 250,000 State Department cables, but Clinton does not change her unsecure communication methods.

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

WikiLeaks, working with several major media outlets, begins publicly releasing over 250,000 diplomatic cables between the State Department and US embassies around the world. The cables date from 1966 to February 2010. None of the cables are classified at a level higher than “confidential,” the lowest classification level.

Clinton responds with the public comment, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity. […] It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.” (USA Today, 11/29/2010) (The New York Times, 11/28/2010) 

Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist for her 2008 presidential campaign, sends Clinton an email in which he recommends, “I think you need to order a full scale review and upgrading of the cyber security of the State Department immediately.” (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

However, despite this being the largest breach of State Department classified information in history, Clinton doesn’t change her personal communication methods, and continues to use an unsecured BlackBerry and an unsecured private email server. It is unknown if the State Department changes its cybersecurity as a whole, and if so, how.

June 20, 2011: Clinton reveals sensitive classified information in an email she initiated.

Left to Right: Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, and Clinton, in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2011. (Credit: US Department of State)

Left to Right: Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, and Clinton, in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2011. (Credit: US Department of State)

Clinton sends an email to Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs. In the vast majority of her later published emails, Clinton responds to emails other people send her, but this is a case where she initiates an email communication herself.

She writes Campbell, “The FM took me aside as I was leaving to raise three issues:” Then her next four lines are later redacted. According to classification codes, those lines contain “Foreign government information” and “Foreign relations or foreign activities of the US including confidential sources.” Clinton then concludes, “Pls [Please] advise how to respond.”

Campbell emails her back, saying he will come up with a recommendation, but he doesn’t do it by email. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) “2+2” and “FM” indicate Clinton is referring to talks that day with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, as part of “2 plus 2” diplomatic talks between the US and Japan. (US Department of State, 6/21/2011)

October 2013: Clinton’s brother gets a financial stake in a mining venture in Haiti.

Clinton presided over the grand opening of a Haitian industrial park in October 2012, two months before VCS Mining got a lucrative gold mining permit. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton presided over the grand opening of a Haitian industrial park in October 2012, two months before VCS Mining got a lucrative gold mining permit. (Credit: Getty Images)

In December 2012, a US-based company called VCS Mining wins one of the first two gold-mining permits issued by the Haitian government in more than 50 years. The mining project is heavily criticized by Haitian politicians who call it a potential environmental disaster and a waste of resources. Its permit is put on a hold due to the backlash.

In October 2013, Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham is added to VCS Mining’s advisory board. Rodham is rewarded with stock options in the mining company that will vest if the mine is successful. Both Rodham and VCS Mining chief executive and president Angelo Viard later claim that Rodham was added to the board after a chance meeting at the previous year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual conference. Both also claim that Rodham’s involvement with the mining company has nothing to do with the political power of the Clintons in the US or in Haiti. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are widely seen as leading the reconstruction effort since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.) Rodham used to work as a repo man, prison guard, and private detective, but has more recently worked for an investment firm. (The Washington Post, 3/20/2015)

In March 2016, the New York Times will report that many in Haiti see Rodham’s involvement in the mining company as him taking advantage of his sister’s political influence for personal profit. (The New York Times, 3/14/2016)

One week after the Times article that suggested Clinton could be hurt politically by the connection, VCS Mining will announce that Rodham has stepped down from the board due to company “restructuring.” (VCS Mining, 3/21/2016)

February 2015: The State Department finally begins archiving the emails of its top officials.

The State Department begins using a system that automatically keeps the emails of high-ranking officials, such as deputy secretary of state, and under and assistant secretaries. Secretary of State John Kerry’s emails have been automatically retained since around the time he took office in 2013.

Patrice McDermott (Credit: Freedom of Information Summit)

Patrice McDermott (Credit: Freedom of Information Summit)

In 2012, an Obama administration directive mandated that departments must devise a system for retaining and preserving email records by the end of 2016, but some departments are slow to adapt.

Patrice McDermott, director of the transparency watchdog group OpenTheGovernment.org, says, “It really is chaos across the government in terms of what agencies do, what individuals do, and people understand that they can decide what they save and what they don’t. If you leave it up to the agency, some are going to behave properly and take it seriously, and some are going to see it as carte blanche to whitewash the record.” (The New York Times, 3/13/2015)

March 20, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee formally requests that Clinton turn over her private email server.

In a letter to Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall, the committee says Clinton should give her server to the State Department’s inspector general or to a neutral party in order to determine which of her emails were work-related and which ones were personal. (The New York Times, 3/20/2015) Several day later, Kendall replies that turning over the server would be pointless since no emails remain on it. (The New York Times, 3/31/2015)

Clinton will keep her server until a copy is given to the FBI in August 2015. It will later be reported that the FBI recovers most if not all of the deleted emails on the server.

March 27, 2015: It is unclear if Clinton still has copies of her deleted emails.

Clinton speaks during a news conference in New York, March 10, 2015. (Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)

Clinton speaks during a news conference in New York, March 10, 2015. (Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)

The New York Times reports that while it is known Clinton deleted over 31,000 emails from her server due to alleged personal content, it is unknown if she still retains copies of them elsewhere. “At a news conference this month, Mrs. Clinton appeared to provide two answers about whether she still had copies of her emails. First, she said that she ‘chose not to keep’ her private personal emails after her lawyers had examined the account and determined on their own which ones were personal and which were State Department records. But later, she said that the [contents of the] server… ‘will remain private.’” (The New York Times, 3/27/2015)

August 14, 2015: Clinton jokes about her emails at a campaign event.

Clinton speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding on Friday, August 14, 2015 (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding on Friday, August 14, 2015 (Credit: ABC News)

At a fund-raising dinner in Clear Lake, Iowa, Clinton jokes, “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015) 

Later in the month, a New York Times article on Democratic politicians who worry about the email scandal notes, “many say, her repeated jokes and dismissive remarks on the email controversy suggest that she is not treating it seriously enough.” (The New York Times, 8/27/2015)

August 14, 2015: The FBI is trying to find out if foreign countries, especially China or Russia, broke into Clinton’s private server.

The New York Times reports that according to several unnamed US officials, “specially trained cybersecurity investigators will seek to determine whether Russian, Chinese, or other hackers breached the account or tried to transfer any of Mrs. Clinton’s emails…” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)

September 14, 2015: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is being run from FBI headquarters

1123_01A.tifFBI Headquarters, Washington, DC (Credit: Fed Scoop)

FBI Headquarters, Washington, DC (Credit: Fed Scoop)

The New York Times reports, “In an unusual move, the FBI’s inquiry is being led out of its headquarters in Washington, blocks from the White House. Nearly all investigations are assigned to one of the bureau’s 56 field offices. But given this inquiry’s importance, senior FBI officials have opted to keep it closely held in Washington in the agency’s counterintelligence section, which investigates how national security secrets are handled.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)

March 9, 2016: Seven Congressional Democrats accuse two inspectors general of politicizing their review of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

A letter addressed to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough is signed by the “ranking Democrats on the House and Senate committees overseeing intelligence, foreign affairs, government operations, Homeland Security and the judiciary.” The letter states, “Already, this review has been too politicized. […] We are relying on you as independent inspectors general to perform your duties dispassionately and comprehensively.”

A spokesperson for Linick rejects the accusations. Linick has released two interim reports about Clinton’s emails and server, and is expected to release a final report in another month or two. (The New York Times, 3/10/2016)

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

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

Stephen Gillers (Credit: New York University)

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

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

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