The department has only an acting inspector general for most of this time. (The Associated Press, 6/8/2016)
In July 2011, Rajiv Fernando is appointed to the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB), a panel filled with high-level foreign policy advisers and security experts. Fernando is granted “top secret” security clearance and given access to highly sensitive information in order to participate on the panel.
Fernando has no relevant experience for the panel but is a prominent donor to Democratic political campaigns, including Clinton’s 2008 campaign, to which he gave large amounts as a “bundler.” He also gave between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.
ABC News later comments that Fernando, a “Chicago securities trader, who specialized in electronic investing, sat alongside an august collection of nuclear scientists, former cabinet secretaries, and members of Congress to advise Hillary Clinton on the use of tactical nuclear weapons and on other crucial arms control issues.”
On August 15, 2011, ABC News asks the State Department about Fernando’s apparent lack of qualifications for the panel. Fernando resigns two days later.
In 2016, some State Department emails will be publicly released about the matter. Department official Jamie Mannina writes in an August 15, 2011 email: “it appears there is much more to this story that we’re unaware of. […] [I]t’s natural to ask how he got onto the board when compared to the rest of the esteemed list of members. […] We must protect the secretary’s [meaning Clinton] and under secretary’s name, as well as the integrity of the [panel]. I think it’s important to get down to the bottom of this before there’s any response.”
Official Wade Boese replies that same day, “The true answer is that S staff (Cheryl Mills) added him. The board’s membership preceded me. Raj [Fernando] was not on the list sent to S; he was added at their insistence.” “S” refers to Secretary Clinton.
Clinton’s aides will later claim that Fernando’s appointment to the panel was not connected to his political donations. However, an unnamed former administration official familiar with the selection will say that department officials were probably “embarrassed” by the attention and the potential conflict of interest. (CNN, 6/11/2016) (ABC News, 6/10/2016)
Clinton is sent an email by State Department official Monica Hanley regarding a phone call to new Malawi president Joyce Banda. All the text of the email will later be redacted except for the first few lines, one of which states, “(C) Purpose of Call: to offer condolences on the passing of President Mukharika and congratulate President Banda on her recent swearing in.” The “(C)” is an official code known as a “portion marking,” and it indicates the information is classified at the “confidential” level.
In June 2016, Fox News will report that an unnamed US government source claims “there are other Clinton emails with classified markings, or marked classified, beyond” this email, but presumably those markings are in later-redacted portions of the emails. Clinton does not flag the email for having classified information in an insecure channel, but merely makes a brief comment that the timing of the phone call works for her.
Also in June 2016, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will be asked directly about the email. However, he will ignore the direct evidence the email was marked classified at the time by saying, “The fact that this email was classified after the fact suggests again that agencies in the government tend to err on the side of classifying even routine matters of diplomacy.” (Fox News, 6/11/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (LawNewz, 6/11/2016)
In a legal case, Vice News journalist Jason Leopold has tried to get the FBI to reveal more details of their investigation. The FBI has refused to do so, but in a court filing, the FBI comments: “[A]ll of the materials retrieved from any electronic equipment obtained from former Secretary Clinton for the investigation are evidence, potential evidence, or information that has not yet been assessed for evidentiary value.” Furthermore, the release of any of that additional information “could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation.” (The Hill, 6/8/2016)
The Associated Press reports that after Clinton’s 30,000 work-related emails were turned over to the State Department, 47 of them were marked with the notation “B3 CIA PERS/ORG” to justify why certain passages were redacted.
Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and a former NSA legal counsel, says, “Start with the entirely plausible view that foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton’s server.” Then those agencies could compare the full emails with the redacted versions and use the B3 CIA markings to find the meaning of names that otherwise might not be obvious. Baker says, “Presto—the CIA names just fall off the page.”
An unnamed US official says the risk of the names of CIA personnel being revealed in this way is “theoretical,” since it is unknown if other governments hacked Clinton’s server to get their own full versions of the emails. (The Associated Press, 6/8/2016)
In an interview, she adds that there is “absolutely no possibility of an indictment. There is no basis for it, and I’m looking forward to this being wrapped up as soon as possible.” (Politico, 6/9/2016)
The endorsement comes two days after the last major Democratic primaries and after Clinton won a majority of the pledged delegates for the Democratic nomination.
Republicans criticize the move, due to the FBI’s ongoing Clinton investigation. For instance, Senator John Cornyn (R) claims that Obama’s endorsement is a conflict of interest and a special counsel is needed to avoid political pressure on the investigation. (Politico, 6/9/2016)
When asked if the FBI could be facing political pressure from Clinton, Earnest says that President Obama “has reiterated his commitment to this principle that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any sort of political interference.”
Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Short soon comments, “The White House’s admission that the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server as a ‘criminal’ matter shreds her dishonest claim that it is a routine ‘security inquiry.’” Earnest later comments that he has no inside knowledge of the exact nature of the investigation. (Politico, 6/9/2016)
In a Fox News interview, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal is asked if he ever had security clearance when exchanging emails with Clinton, given that many of her emails were later deemed to contain classified material. He responds, “I was her friend, and I had no security clearance, nor did I seek it, nor did anyone ever send me anything that was classified. So I had no access to, nor did I send or receive any classified material.”
Curiously, he also comments about the Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, who broke into his email inbox in 2013: “Marcel Lazar is a Romanian. He worked from a Russian server. He may well be part of a Russian information operation.” (Fox News, 6/11/2016)