September 21, 2000: A US ambassador loses his security clearance after working on classified information on an airplane flight.

Martin Indyk (Credit: Paul Richards / Getty Images)

Martin Indyk (Credit: Paul Richards / Getty Images)

US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has his security clearance taken away after the FBI began investigating whether he prepared classified memos about meetings with foreign leaders using an unclassified laptop computer on an airplane flight. Investigators say there was no evidence of espionage or of the exposure any classified information.

A month later, Indyk’s clearance will be restored after a flare-up between Israel and the Palestinian territories results in the worst violence there in a decade. The Clinton administration decides it needs Indyk’s diplomatic abilities to help deal with the crisis. (The Los Angeles Times, 10/11/2000)

May 11, 2015: A former CIA official is sentenced to prison for giving the name of a CIA asset to a reporter.

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was convicted of nine criminal counts for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen in 2003. Prosecutors claimed it was a plot to embarrass the CIA, after he was fired from the agency in 2002. However, others have seen him as a whistleblower. It was alleged that in 2003, Sterling revealed information about a CIA operation to harm Iran’s nuclear program by having a scientist provide Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. However, Risen wrote in a 2006 book that the operation was mismanaged and may have inadvertently aided Iran. Sterling also revealed his concerns about the program to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003.

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema says Sterling caused damage by effectively revealing the identity of someone working for the CIA, and “If you do knowingly reveal these secrets, there’s going to be a price to be paid.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2015) (The New York Times, 1/26/2015)

August 26, 2015: Democratic leaders are growing frustrated by Clinton’s prolonged email scandal and the way it has been handled.

Ed Rendell (Credit: The Associated Press)

Ed Rendell (Credit: The Associated Press)

The New York Times reports that “Democratic leaders are increasingly frustrated by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to put to rest questions about her State Department email practices and ease growing doubts among voters about her honesty and trustworthiness. […] Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates, and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy—by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.”

Ed Rendell, a former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Clinton’s presidential candidacy, is particularly blunt and critical: “They’ve handled the email issue poorly, maybe atrociously, certainly horribly. The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue. She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue—they’re left just playing defense.” (The New York Times, 8/27/2015)

February 16, 2016: It is discovered that three Clinton aides used email accounts from Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign for State Department work.

According to Politico, recently discovered emails show that three of Clinton’s former staffers used accounts from a domain linked to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, used the account cmills@hillaryclinton.com in an April 5, 2009 email. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, used the account habedin@hillaryclinton.com in a February 22, 2012 email. And Clinton’s computer technician, Bryan Pagliano, used the account bpagliano@hillaryclinton.com in a March 21, 2010 email. These accounts apparently are in addition to other work and personal emails used by all three people.

These discoveries lead the conservative government watchdog group Cause of Action to write a letter to Judiciary chair Charles Grassley (R) and Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz (R), asking them to look into whether Mills, Abedin, and Pagliano have turned over all their work emails from the domain, and whether other Clinton aides also had hillaryclinton.com accounts that were used for work. The group also wants to know why the domain was kept active long after Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign was over, and who was paying for it. Furthermore, the group questions if the use of such email accounts could violate the Hatch Act, which bars campaign activities from crossing into official government duties. (Politico, 2/16/2016) (US Department of State, 7/31/2015) (US Department of State, 5/13/2015) (US Department of State, 1/15/2016)

April 26, 2016: The Associated Press reports: “Most companies and groups that paid Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to speak between 2013 and 2015 have lobbied federal agencies in recent years, and more than one-third are government contractors…”

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Lawrence Noble (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton was paid a total of $22 million for 94 speeches by 82 different firms and organizations in the time between the end of her secretary of state tenure in February 2013 and the official start of her 2016 presidential campaign in April 2015. At least 60 firms and organizations that paid for her speeches lobbied the Obama administration at some point, at least 30 profited from government contracts, and at least 22 had business before the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state.

Lawrence Noble, of the election watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, says, “The problem is whether all these interests who paid her to appear before them will expect to have special access when they have an issue before the government.”

Together, trade association lobbying groups and the financial sector paid a total of $11 million of her speeches, about half of the total during that two-year time period. (The Associated Press, 8/21/2016)

May 2, 2016: The State Department changes its policy on when foreign intelligence should be considered classified.

State Department legislative liaison Julia Frifield sends a letter to the Senate indicating an apparent change in what information the State Department considers properly classified. The vast majority of redactions in Clinton’s emails are for foreign government information, to which Frifield refers as “FGI.”

Frifield writes, “Although the unauthorized release of FGI is presumed to cause harm to the national security—thereby qualifying as Confidential [level] classified information, department officials of necessity routinely receive such information through unclassified channels. For example, diplomats engage in meetings with counterparts in open settings, have phone calls with foreign contacts over unsecure lines, and email with and about foreign counterparts via unclassified systems. Diplomats could not conduct diplomacy if doing so violated the law.” As a result, not all such information should automatically be considered classified.

However, regulations in effect when Clinton was secretary of state called for FGI to be marked “confidential” unless it was designated “C/MOD” (for “confidential/modified handling”). But none of Clinton’s emails appear to have been given that designation. (Politico, 5/12/2016)

May 12, 2016: Clinton could be the subject or even the target of an FBI criminal investigation.

Ellen Glasser (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ellen Glasser (Credit: Paul Squire)

Politifact gets opinions on the FBI’s Clinton investigation from several experienced former officials who have no specific inside knowledge of the case.

Ellen Glasser, a retired FBI official who worked on mishandled classified information cases, says, “We don’t do these [investigations] because we’re curious. There’s a potential that a criminal violation took place. […] My experience tells me that Hillary Clinton is a subject of a criminal investigation.”

Mark Pollitt, former head of the FBI’s computer forensics program, says, “You don’t know if it’s criminal until you get to the end of it.” Noting that the investigation has lasted for at least nine months, he adds, “If this thing was dead on arrival, nobody would be willing to keep this thing going.”

However, it is still unknown if Clinton is a subject or target of the investigation. A “target” is someone who prosecutors believe is linked to a crime by substantial evidence. It is common practice for prosecutors to tell people if they are targets if they ask. However, it doesn’t appear that Clinton has asked. She has claimed that she has had no contact with the FBI about the investigation so far. (Politifact, 5/12/2016)

May 23, 2016: The FBI is investigating the governor of Virginia, including his time as a board member of the CGI.

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

Governor Terry McAuliffe (Credit: public domain)

CNN reports, “Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, US officials briefed on the probe say. […] [I]nvestigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI],” a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation. There is no allegation that the foundation did anything wrong.

The investigation is particularly focused on a $120,000 donation by Wang Wenliang through his US businesses to McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. Wang is a Chinese citizen and used to be a delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. However, he holds permanent resident status in the US, and is therefore eligible to donate to political campaigns, so it’s not clear what the alleged wrongdoing is. Wang has also given $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, as well as other major donations to other US-based charities. (CNN, 5/23/2016)