May 2016: The State Department won’t say if Clinton’s former top aides have kept their security clearances or not.

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Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (R), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to the State Department. He asks if some of Clinton’s former top aides, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines have kept their security clearances “in light of the fact that classified information has been discovered” on Clinton’s private server.

However, the State Department declines to tell him, saying it won’t discuss the status of any individuals’ security clearance. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)

It has previously been reported that Clinton and her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills have kept their security clearances.

July 5, 2016: It appears Clinton’s emails include 29 at the “top secret” level, instead of the widely reported 22.

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

Representative Chris Stewart (Credit: public domain)

In his public speech ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation, FBI Director James Comey mentions Clinton’s emails contained eight chains containing “top secret’ information, instead of the previously reported seven chains of 22 emails. The New York Times reports that it is “not immediately clear what subject the eighth chain Mr. Comey cited involved, but his statement means that more than 22 emails already disclosed included ‘top secret’ information. Officials at the FBI did not respond to inquiries seeking further explanation.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

On February 3, 2016, Representative Chris Stewart (R), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who viewed Clinton’s 22 “top secret” emails, claimed that there are seven more Clinton emails with a classification of “top secret” that the government has not revealed. (The Washington Examiner, 3/3/2016) Comey’s remarks suggest Stewart was correct.

July 5, 2016: 113 of Clinton’s emails contained classified information at the time they were sent, destroying one of Clinton’s main excuses for her actions.

This is according to public comments by FBI Director James Comey. Three of these were not included in the emails Clinton turned over to the State Department, but were discovered by the FBI through other means. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The New York Times comments that this means those emails “should never have been sent or received on an unclassified computer network — not hers, not even the State Department’s official state.gov system. That fact refutes the core argument she and others have made: that the entire controversy turned on the overzealous, after-the-fact classification of emails as they were being made public under the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], rather than the mishandling of the nation’s secrets.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: A State Department official denies the department generally has lax security.

In his public comments concluding the FBI’s Clinton investigation, FBI Director James Comey not only criticizes Clinton and her aides for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” but criticizes the department as a whole. He says that the FBI found evidence that “the security culture” of the State Department “was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.” This is especially true regarding the use of unclassified email systems.

However, State Department spokesperson John Kirby says, “We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve, but we don’t share the broad assessment made of our institution that there’s a lax culture here when it comes to protecting classified information.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016) (The New York Times, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: The FBI says Clinton both sent and received emails in seven above “top secret” email chains.

Although FBI Director James Comey announces he will not recommend an indictment of Clinton, comments in his public speech reveal information that could be very politically damaging for Clinton. It was previously known that Clinton’s emails contained 22 “top secret” emails in seven different email chains. However, Comey reveals, “Those chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending and receiving emails about those same matters.”

This contradicts previous news reports that Clinton had only been the recipient of “top secret” emails. Comey also says that seven email chains contain “top secret / special access program” (TP/SAP) information, which is above top secret, plus one more previously unknown email chain at the “top secret” level. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The New York Times notes, “Those emails have been widely reported to include information about the Central Intelligence Agency’s program to use drones to track and kill terrorism suspects. … Only a small number of officials are allowed access to those programs, which are the nation’s most sensitive intelligence operations.”

Another 36 chains were “secret,” which means it includes information that “could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.” Eight more chains had information classified at the “confidential” level.

The Times comments that Comey’s speech “was, arguably, the worst possible good news Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign could have hoped for: no criminal charges, but a pointed refutation of statements like one she flatly made last August,” when she said, “I did not send classified material.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

July 6, 2016: “Extremely careless” is said to be the “money quote” of FBI Director Comey’s speech, and could affect the presidential election.

A Washington Post news analysis comments, “Of the more than 2,000 words FBI Director James Comey said in his unusually detailed statement [on July 5, 2016] that all but cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal indictment over the long-running probe into her email, two in particular got the most attention. ‘Extremely careless,’ Comey’s phrase to describe Clinton and her colleagues’ handling of classified information, has been called the statement’s ‘money quote,’ perhaps the biggest headline of the statement other than its absence of recommended charges, and the one nearly certain to any minute now be put on repeat in ads for presumptive [Republican] nominee Donald Trump.”

The Post also notes that in national polls, Clinton rates very poorly on honesty and trustworthiness, butt high on competence. However, the “extremely careless” quote could be used by Trump to criticize Clinton on one of her greatest perceived strengths.

Furthermore, it’s possible that “Comey’s comment will simply bounce off Clinton’s long-cultivated armor of competence.” But it’s also possible that the phrase could leave a permanent mark on her reputation. “Coming from a law enforcement official who has served both political parties and not shied away from conflict with either, it bears plenty of weight.” (The Washington Post, 7/6/2016)

July 7, 2016: FBI Director answers questions before a Congressional committee, further criticizing Clinton but also defending his decision not to indict her.

James Comey testifies to the House Oversight Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News)

James Comey is questioned before Congress on July 7, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News)

On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey gave a fifteen-minute public speech, in which he criticized Clinton’s handling of classified information but announced he would not recommend that she be indicted for any crime. He did not take any questions from reporters afterwards. But only two days later, he appears at a Congressional hearing to further explain and defend his comments.

Comey was invited by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), who is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to speak in front of the committee. Comey takes questions for four and a half hours.

Not surprisingly, Republicans use the hearing to look for more evidence to attack Clinton with, while Democrats attempt to defend Clinton’s behavior.

The New York Times notes that Comey defended himself “against an onslaught of Republican criticism for ending the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but he also provided new details that could prove damaging to her just weeks before she is to be named the Democrats’ presidential nominee.”

He “acknowledged under questioning that a number of key assertions that Mrs. Clinton made for months in defending her email system were contradicted by the FBI’s investigation.” However, he also defends his decision not to seek any indictment. (The New York Times, 7/7/2016)

Comey repeats some of the main points he made in his July 5, 2016 speech: “I think she was extremely careless. I think she was negligent — that I could establish. What we can’t establish is that she acted with the necessary criminal intent.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

July 7, 2016: The FBI did not record Clinton’s interview and did not make her testify under oath.

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Secret Service agents at the Washington home of Hillary Clinton on Saturday July 2, 2016. (Credit: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Speaking before a Congressional committee, FBI Director James Comey reveals that when Clinton was interviewed by FBI and Justice Department officials for over three hours on July 2, 2016, the interview was not recorded and Clinton wasn’t asked to swear an oath to tell the truth. However, Comey notes that if Clinton lied in the interview she could still be charged, because it is always a crime to lie to the FBI.

Comey also explains that it is FBI policy not to record interviews. An FBI memo from 2006 states, “Under the current policy, agents may not electronically record confessions or interviews, openly or surreptitiously,” except in rare circumstances. Civil libertarians and open government advocates have been against this policy for years.

However, the FBI did complete an FD-302, which is a federal form summarizing the interview. Republicans in the hearing immediately request that a copy of the form be given to the House oversight committee. (The Hill, 7/7/2016)

July 8, 2016: Judicial Watch asks to depose Clinton and two others in a civil suit.

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Judicial Watch files a motion to depose Clinton as part a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit relating to Clinton’s emails. US District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered six of Clinton’s former aides to be deposed, and left open the possibility that Clinton could be deposed later, depending on the answers given by the aides.  All six finished their depositions by the end of June 2016.

Judicial Watch argues it has “attempted to obtain as much evidence as possible from other State Department officials, but Secretary Clinton is an indispensable witness and significant questions remain, including why records management officials apparently had no knowledge of [her email] system when so many other officials used the system to communicate with her. Consequently, Secretary Clinton’s deposition is necessary.”

Additionally, Judicial Watch is asking to depose two other former Clinton aides who had knowledge of Clinton’s private server, John Bentel and Clarence Finney. They also want to depose Clinton in a similar lawsuit presided by Judge Royce Lamberth.

Sullivan announces that the motion will be argued on July 18, 2016. (LawNewz, 7/8/2016)

July 8, 2016: Clinton refuses to say if she’ll cooperate with a renewed State Department investigation.

Clinton appears with Wolf Blitzer on July 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton appears with Wolf Blitzer on July 8, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Clinton is interviewed by CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer. The State Department suspended an investigation into Clinton’s email because the FBI investigation took precedence. Now that the FBI investigation has finished, the State investigation has resumed.

Blitzer asks Clinton, “Will you cooperate with this new State Department investigation? Because I know you didn’t cooperate with the inspector general of the State Department in his investigation.”

Clinton replies, “Well, there was a Justice Department [and FBI] investigation going on at the time. And, of course, I fully cooperated with that.”

Blitzer repeats the question multiple times, since that answer is a deflection, but Clinton still doesn’t give a clear answer.

This new State investigation is not run by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who ran the investigation mentioned by Blitzer. Not only did Clinton fail to cooperate with that investigation, but nine of her former top aides didn’t cooperate either. (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/8/2016)

July 8, 2016: Clinton blames other government officials for the classified information stored on her private server.

Wolf Blitzer (Credit: CNN)

Wolf Blitzer (Credit: CNN)

Clinton previously claimed she hadn’t sent or received any classified information via email, or that none of the emails contained information that was classified when they were sent. On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey stated that over 100 emails contained information that was classified when Clinton sent or received them.

As a result, when she is asked about this by CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer, she changes her account again. “I think there are about 300 people in the government — mostly in the State Department but in other high positions in the government — with whom I emailed over the course of four years. They, I believe, did not believe they were sending any material that was classified.”

Blitzer notes that Comey said Clinton and her aides “should have known” that her emails were not secure. He asks Clinton, “Should you have known better?”

Clinton avoids a direct answer, and again blames other officials. “I just believe that the material that was being communicated by professionals, many with years of handling sensitive classified material, they did not believe that it was. I did not have a basis for second-guessing their conclusion, and these were not marked.”

Clinton also says that she now realizes her use of a private server was “the wrong choice.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/8/2016)

She makes very similar comments which blames other officials in various interviews given on the same day. The Washington Post comments, “The references to other government officials… represent a new line of defense in the long public debate over an issue that has led many voters to say they do not trust her.” (The Washington Post, 7/8/2016)