June 27, 2016: Former President Bill Clinton has an “accidental” meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, causing a political storm.

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

On the night of June 27, 2016, Clinton and Lynch are in separate airplanes at the international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. According to an account by Lynch two days later, Clinton walks uninvited from his plane to her plane and talks with her for about half an hour. On June 30, 2016, CBS News will report, “An aide to Bill Clinton says that he spotted her on the tarmac, but CBS News has been told that she was in an unmarked plane.” (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

Lynch will say: “He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.” However, this encounter causes what the New York Times calls a “political furor” and “storm,” because Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary is being investigated by the FBI.

Furthermore, the FBI is expected to make a recommendation to indict her or not “in the coming weeks,” according to the Times. If the FBI does recommend indictment, then the decision to actually indict or not will rest with Lynch. Thus, many Republican politicians and even some Democrats criticize Bill Clinton and Lynch simply for meeting at all during such a politically charged time.

  • Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls it “one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year.” He says it was a “sneak” meeting, exposing that Clinton’s possible indictment is already a rigged process.
  • Republican Senator John Cornyn says that as a lawyer and attorney general, Lynch “must avoid even the appearance” of a conflict of interest, and renews his call for a special prosecutor to take charge of the Clinton investigation instead of Lynch.
  • David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, says he takes Clinton and Lynch at their word that their conversation didn’t touch on the FBI investigation, but that it was “foolish to create such optics.”
  • Democratic Senator Chris Coons says he is convinced Lynch is “an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal… I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

  • White House spokesperson Josh Earnest refuses to say whether the meeting was appropriate or not.
  • The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch says the meeting creates the impression that “the fix is in” and calls on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the meeting. (The New York Times, 6/30/2016) (The Hill, 6/30/2016) (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers comments: “It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president. […] He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane.” He adds that the meeting “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said.” (NPR, 6/30/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin is deposed in a civil suit; she says Clinton didn’t want her personal emails accessible by anybody.

Photo of an ABC News report on Huma Abedin's deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News).

An ABC News report on Huma Abedin’s deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, and continues to play a major role as the vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She is deposed under oath for nearly six hours as part of a civil suit brought by Judicial Watch regarding the State Department’s slow response to certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

Amongst other things, Abedin says:

  • She isn’t aware whether Clinton personally deleted any emails while still in office.
  • She cannot recall whether she or Clinton discussed with any State Department officials Clinton’s using only her own server for government business.
  • She never searched or was asked to search her government or her private email accounts in response to requests or lawsuits under FOIA. But a review of all requests to the State Department during that time found several asking specifically for her emails on a number of subjects.
  • Clinton didn’t want the private emails that she mixed in with work-related emails to be accessible to “anybody.” (The Associated Press, 6/29/2016)

Abedin responds to some questions but is forgetful about others. The lack of definitive answers from her and the other former aides deposed in the same lawsuit could open the door to Clinton herself being deposed, if the judge allows it through the unusual discovery process he has approved so far.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “I think it’s striking that even Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had concerns about how the system affected Mrs. Clinton’s ability to do her job. We’re considering what next steps to take and what additional discovery we need.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

 

June 29, 2016: US intelligence is said to be looking closely to see if Russia could be covertly trying to release all of Clinton’s emails to the public.

Russian president Vladimir Putin (Credit: Agence France Presse)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Credit: Agence France Presse)

The Washington Times claims that an unnamed US intelligence official says US intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian online blogs and other Internet locations for any signs that Russian hackers have obtained Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state and are preparing to publicly release them. At least two postings suggest this could be happening, but the evidence cannot be confirmed as authoritative.

Additionally, an unnamed State Department official says Russia, China, and Israel are the three foreign governments most likely to have obtained all of Clinton’s emails, including her deleted ones, through covert hacking operations.

It is known that many organizations and people connected to Clinton have been hacked in recent months, and the Russian government is suspected, but their involvement has not been confirmed. If the Russians are involved, one possible motive would be to influence the FBI’s Clinton investigation and thus the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, calling him someone he could “get along very well with,” while Clinton espouses policies that frequently conflict with Russian aims. (The Washington Times, 6/29/2016)

June 29, 2016: At least 160 of Clinton’s work emails have turned up since Clinton said she turned them all over.

The Washington Post reports that “disclosures over the past several weeks have revealed dozens of emails related to Clinton’s official duties that crossed her private server and were not included in the 55,000 pages of correspondence she turned over to the State Department when the agency sought her emails in 2014.”

At least 127 of the new emails have come to light through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests initiated by Judicial Watch, especially the first two batch releases of Huma Abedin’s emails. Since Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, many of the emails were to or from Clinton about obvious work matters, yet weren’t included in the over 30,000 emails turned over by Clinton. Additionally, more of Clinton’s emails came to light through the May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, as well as previous leaks to the media, for a total of at least 160 emails.

The Post comments, “The newly disclosed gaps in Clinton’s correspondence raise questions about the process used by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her lawyers to determine which emails she turned over to the department.”

Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon says that both Clinton and Abedin provided “all potentially work-related emails in their possession” to the State Department. “We understand Secretary Clinton had some emails with Huma that Huma did not have, and Huma had some emails with Secretary Clinton that Secretary Clinton did not have.” However, the Post notes that Fallon “has not provided a full explanation for all of the gaps” with her emails. The State Department also has not fully addressed the gaps.

The campaign for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump releases a statement saying, “We now know that Clinton’s repeated assertion that she turned over everything work-related from her time at the State Department is not true.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says, “The most charitable interpretation is that the process she and her attorneys used to cull government emails from the emails she took with her didn’t work. The less charitable interpretation is that these emails were not helpful to Mrs. Clinton, so they were not turned over.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

June 29, 2016: The State Department wants to delay the release of emails between Clinton’s former aides and the Clinton Foundation until well after the 2016 presidential election.

Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs,Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Former Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer (left) (Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Michael Fuchs (right) (Credit: Center for American Progress)

Conservative group Citizens United has a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking emails that former State Department officials Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs exchanged with employees of the Clinton Foundation or Teneo Consulting, a company closely tied to the Clintons. The court has ordered the emails to be released by July 21, 2016.

However, Justice Department lawyers acting on behalf of the State Department ask US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras for an extension until October 2018 – more than two years. The State Department says they thought in March 2016 that there were only 6,000 pages of emails to process. But an error was discovered and they now believe there are more than 14,000 pages. The department also complains they are falling behind responding to FOIA requests and lawsuits in general.

Citizens United president David Bossie says, “This is totally unacceptable; the State Department is using taxpayer dollars to protect their candidate Hillary Clinton. The American people have a right to see these emails before the [November 2016 presidential] election. […] The conflicts of interest that were made possible by the activities of Hillary Clinton’s State Department in tandem with the Clinton Foundation are of significant importance to the public and the law enforcement community.” (Politico, 6/29/2016)

 

June 30, 2016: One company that possessed Clinton’s emails is accused of having shockingly poor security.

Datto Headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. (Credit: Stephen A. Schwartz / Daily Mail)

Datto Headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. (Credit: Stephen A. Schwartz / Daily Mail)

From around June 2013 until August 2015, Clinton’s private server containing her emails from her time as secretary of state was managed by Platte River Networks. But another company, Datto Inc., was making monthly back-up copies of all the server’s data in the Internet cloud.  Datto has 600 employees and is valued at $1 billion, but two people tell the Daily Mail that the company is extremely incompetent.

Marc Tamarin, president of Virtual IT Consulting, was a Datto business partner from 2009 until early 2016. He says he frequently worked with Datto’s technical support, but “Those guys were really morons. They weren’t qualified to handle our back-up and that was the biggest concern for us. … If they’re inept at the basic principles of technology, how are they going to handle something advanced like security? Most companies like mine trust their vendor that they are doing due diligence. I’ve never heard anything this bad before in my life, the dataincompetence was shocking.”

An unnamed former employee, who spent three years at the company, has even more complaints. “If you’re talking about high-level data security, at the political, presidential level, the security level of data [at Datto] … was nowhere near something that could have been protected from a good hacker that knows how to spread out their points at which to infiltrate. It’s not something that Datto was focused on. It was more about getting the data off-site quickly and cost-effectively than securing the data and keeping it from being hacked. There’s no doubt in my mind that someone could easily hack them – even today.”

He calls Datto’s security “a joke.” He claims a potential hacker could walk in off the street and sit down at an unused computer and access all the company’s data. There were no security guards, the receptionists didn’t ask questions of strangers, there was no key card access or other security features, passwords were not regularly changed, and so on. People who said they had lost their security pass would be let in without questions. Unused computers were frequently left on and logged in to the network.

He says, “For years, any Datto employee, even low-level ones, could go in any customer’s device, see their backups, restore files, and delete files.” Oftentimes, Datto customers would find themselves logged into the data of another customer without even wanting to. Datto’s internal servers were hacked in 2010. However, complaints were swept under the rug and security was not improved. (The Daily Mail, 6/30/2016)