March 10, 2015: Clinton falsely claims that her private server had “no security breaches.”

Clinton answers questions at a United Nations press conference on March 10, 2015. (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton answers questions at a United Nations press conference on March 10, 2015. (Credit: The Associated Press)

During her United Nations press conference, Clinton says about her private email server at her Chappaqua, New York, house: “The system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”

However, in May 2016, a State Department inspector general’s report will detail hacking attempts on Clinton’s emails housed in the server. In January 2011, Justin Cooper, who helped manage the server, wrote in an email that he shut down the server because he suspected “someone was trying to hack us…” Later that day, he wrote, “We were attacked again so I shut (the server) down for a few min [minutes].” And in May 2011, Clinton told her aides that someone was “hacking into her email.”

Additionally, the Associated Press will later comment that “it’s unclear what protection her email system might have achieved from having the Secret Service guard the property. Digital security breaches tend to come from computer networks, not over a fence.” (The Associated Press, 5/27/2016)

Late June 2015: A State Department official claims to have no knowledge of Clinton’s private server, but later evidence will suggest otherwise.

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

John Bentel, director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office while Clinton was secretary of state, is questioned behind closed doors by the House Benghazi Committee. According to a later account by his lawyer Randy Turk, Bentel testifies he has “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server and only learned about it from the newspapers in March 2015.

In early 2016, he will refuse to speak to Congressional investigators and then refuse to speak to a State Department inspector general’s investigators. But the inspector general’s report released in May 2016 will uncover emails and other witness accounts suggesting Bentel did know about her private server and that he stopped his staffers from taking action to keep Clinton’s email practices within the law. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

November 18, 2015: The person who sorted Clinton’s emails apparently fails to answer whether she had the security clearance to do so.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R) sends a letter to former Clinton aide and lawyer Heather Samuelson. In late 2014, Samuelson led the sorting process through Clinton’s 62,000 emails to determine which ones to turn over to The State Department and which ones to delete. She also worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then was a senior adviser to Clinton in the State Department.

Grassley asks if Samuelson had the security clearance necessary to handle Clinton’s emails, some of which were later deemed to contain “top secret” intelligence. He writes, “It is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”

A week later, Politico will try to contact Samuelson and the Clinton campaign about Grassley’s questions but got no response. After that there will be no news reports indicating if Grassley ever gets a reply. Earlier in 2015, Samuelson moved from Washington to New York with plans to work in Clinton’s presidential campaign headquarters there. But she never started the job, due to the controversy over her role in sorting Clinton’s emails. (Politico, 11/23/2015)

February 5, 2016: The New York Times reveals a few more details about what Clinton’s 22 emails deemed “top secret” contain.

A Reaper drone firing its missile. (Credit: public domain)

A Reaper drone firing its missile. (Credit: public domain)

The Times reports, “It remains unknown what exactly the 22 emails contain, given their classification as ‘top secret,’ but [some US] officials described them generally, on the condition of anonymity. The officials included people familiar with or involved in the handling of the emails in government agencies and in Congress.”

  • Officials from US intelligence agencies have battled with State Department officials over what should be considered classified in Clinton’s emails, with the intelligence agencies arguing for more classification and the State Department arguing for less. But in the case of Clinton’s 22 top secret emails, even the State Department agreed that all 22 should be deemed top secret or even above top secret.
  • The emails comprise seven distinct email chains, and most of those chains involve discussions of the CIA drone program. The Obama administration has generally considered the program highly classified, even though details of it have been widely reported. However, some Clinton’s emails contain unredacted mentions of the drone program, so it is the discussion of certain details of the drone program that merit a top secret classification. For instance, some of the top secret emails include an email discussion relating to an unnamed New York Times article that “contained sensitive information about the intelligence surrounding the CIA’s drone activities, particularly in Pakistan.”
  • At least one of the email chains was started by Richard Holbrooke, “who as the administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan would have been intimately involved in dealing with the ramifications of drone strikes.” He died in December 2010.
  • “Some of the emails” include information deemed “top secret/SAP,” which means “special access programs.” The Times calls these programs “among the government’s most closely guarded secrets.”
  • “At least one of the emails contain[s] oblique references to CIA operatives.” One email has been given a designation of “HCS-O,” which indicates the information came from human intelligence sources. However, officials say that “none of the emails mention specific names of CIA officers or the spy agency’s sources.” (The New York Times, 2/5/2016)

May 8, 2016: Clinton says she’s “more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime” about her email scandal.

Clinton appears on Face the Nation, May 8, 2016. (Credit: CBS)

Clinton appears on Face the Nation, May 8, 2016. (Credit: CBS)

Clinton says in an interview that when it comes to her email scandal, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of…my assistants to be very forthcoming. And I hope that this is close to being wrapped up.” She also adds that the FBI still has yet to contact or interview her regarding their investigation. “No one has reached out to me yet.” (CNN, 5/8/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton and her top aides refused to be interviewed for the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices.

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The report released on this day notes that it interviewed “dozens” of present and former State Department officials, including current Secretary of State John Kerry and the three secretaries prior to Clinton: Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. However, Clinton refused to be interviewed. Furthermore, nine of Clinton’s former top aides were singled out in the report for not being interviewed:

  • Cheryl Mills, chief of staff;
  • Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff for operations;
  • Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for policy, and then director of policy planning;
  • Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary for strategic communication;
  • John Bentel, director of the Information Resources Management (IRM) office;
  • Bryan Pagliano, special advisor to the deputy chief information officer (who also privately managed Clinton’s private server);
  • Heather Samuelson, senior advisor to the department (who determined which of Clinton’s emails to delete in late 2014);
  • Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources; and
  • Justin Cooper, whom the report calls “an individual based in New York who provided technical support for Secretary Clinton’s personal email system but who was never employed by the Department.”

The only other person singled out by the report for refusing to be interviewed is Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

The report was many months in the making. But on May 8, 2016, only two weeks before the report’s release, Clinton claimed in an interview that when it came to her emails, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of… my assistants to be very forthcoming.” (CNN, 5/8/2016) 

Later in the day, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon defends Clinton’s decision not to cooperate with the report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the [FBI investigation] and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet.” However, he didn’t clarify why Clinton couldn’t have cooperated with both investigations, especially since the FBI hasn’t even contacted her yet. (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 26, 2016: President Obama avoids commenting about Clinton’s email scandal.

President Obama speaks during a news conference in Shima, Japan, on May 26, 2016. (Credit: Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press)

President Obama speaks during a news conference in Shima, Japan, on May 26, 2016. (Credit: Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press)

One day after a State Department inspector general’s report was released criticizing Clinton’s email practices, President Obama is asked what he thinks of the report and if it “undermines her trustworthiness with the people.”

Obama replies, “Look, I’ve already said a lot about these issues. I think those are better directed to the campaign.” Obama has publicly commented on Clinton’s email scandal twice before, in October 2015 and April 2016. (The Hill, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: A judge blocks the release of audio and video of six Clinton aide depositions, but not the transcripts.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan grants a recent request from Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills to keep audio and video recordings of her upcoming deposition from being made public, at least for now. Mills, who is due to be deposed one day later, argued that such recordings could be used for political purposes against Clinton in the presidential election.

Sullivan writes, “The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available. It is therefore unnecessary to also make the audiovisual recording of Ms. Mills’ deposition public.” On his own initiative, Sullivan blocks the release of all audio and video recordings of the five other former Clinton aides due to be deposed in the suit he is presiding over.

Politico reports, “Sullivan did not signal what his concern was about improper use of the videos, nor did he explain whether he agreed with Mills’ attorneys that the videos were more susceptible to misuse or distortion than the written transcripts that will be released.” Sullivan orders that the audio and video should be filed with the court, raising the possibility they could be released later. (Politico, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: Justice Department lawyers are “wholly opposed” to Clinton being deposed in a civil suit related to her emails.

Justice Department lawyers oppose Judicial Watch’s request that Clinton give a sworn deposition. There are two closely related civil suits in which Judicial Watch has been granted the right of discovery, allowing them to depose witnesses. Six of Clinton’s former aides are already being deposed in the suit presided over by federal judge Emmet Sullivan.

Judicial Watch recently requested that Clinton be deposed in the other suit, presided over by federal judge Royce Lamberth. However, department lawyers argue that Lamberth should let the depositions in the other case play out before allowing Clinton to be deposed in his case. They call the request “wholly inappropriate,” adding, “Judicial Watch makes no attempt here to justify why the witnesses it names would provide any relevant information that is not redundant and cumulative of the discovery that has already been ordered and initiated.”

However, while they oppose Clinton being deposed, they do not oppose Judicial Watch’s request to depose former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan. So far, Judicial Watch has not asked for Clinton or Sullivan to be deposed in the other suit. (Politico, 5/27/2016)

May 27, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders calls the prospect of Joe Biden replacing Clinton if the FBI recommends her indictment “a terrible, terrible idea.”

Vice-President Joe Biden (Credit: public domain)

Vice-President Joe Biden (Credit: public domain)

In an interview, Bernie Sanders is asked his opinion of a hypothetical situation in which the FBI recommends Clinton’s indictment and then Clinton’s delegates switch their support to Vice President Joe Biden or some other person who didn’t run in the primaries.

Sanders replies, “I think that would be a terrible, terrible idea. […] That would say to the millions of people who have supported us, that have worked with us, that would say all of your energy, all of your votes, all of your beliefs are irrelevant. We’re going to bring in someone else. I happen to like Joe a lot, but I think that would be a very, very serious blunder for the Democratic Party.” (The Hill, 5/28/2016)

May 27, 2016: A New York Times article is titled, “Die-Hard Bernie Sanders Backers See FBI as Answer to Their Prayers.”

Supporters at a rally for Bernie Sanders in National City, California, on May 21, 2016. (Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters)

Supporters at a rally for Bernie Sanders in National City, California, on May 21, 2016. (Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters)

The Times reports that a growing number of supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sanders are “holding out for an 11th-hour miracle: divine deliverance at the hands of the FBI.”

Sanders is down by over 250 pledged delegates in the Democratic primaries with not many states left before the primaries are over, so the hopes of many Sanders supporters are turning to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, which could transform the presidential race. (The New York Times, 5/27/2016)

May 27, 2016—May 29, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders rethinks his refusal to criticize Clinton over her email scandal.

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, interviews Bernie Sanders on May 27, 2016. (Credit: The Young Turks)

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, interviews Bernie Sanders on May 27, 2016. (Credit: The Young Turks)

Bernie Sanders is asked if the new State Department inspector general’s report has caused him to rethink his refusal to engage on the issue of Clinton’s email scandal. “It has,” he replies. (Bloomberg News, 5/28/2016) 

Two days later, he adds, “The inspector general just came out with a report, it was not a good report for Secretary Clinton. That is something that the American people, Democrats, and delegates are going to have to take a hard look at.”

He also says that when it comes to superdelegates and the report, “They will be keeping it in mind. I don’t have to tell them that. I mean, everybody in America is keeping it in mind, and certainly the superdelegates are.” (CBS News, 5/29/2016)