January 20, 2009: Obama wins a battle to use a BlackBerry during his presidency.

On the day of President Obama’s inauguration, he wins a battle for the right to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. He fought other officials for two months to use the device.  However, the New York Times reports, “the privilege of becoming the nation’s first emailing president comes with a specific set of rules.”

Obama, on his way to a campaign rally in New Hampshire last January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

Obama using a BlackBerry in New Hampshire, January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

His spokesperson Robert Gibbs says, “The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends, in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate.”

According to the Times, the rules Obama has to abide by are as follows:

  • “First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.
  • Second, anyone placed on the A-list to receive his email address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel’s office.
  • Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.
  • Additionally, he has to use a specially made device, which must be approved by national security officials.”

Aides tell the Times, “All of Mr. Obama’s email messages remain subject to the Presidential Records Act, which could ultimately put his words into the public domain, as well as under the threat of subpoenas. That was a caveat that did not dissuade the president.” (New York Times, 01/22/09)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Evidence suggests Clinton regularly keeps her BlackBerry stored inside a secure area against regulations, but she will later deny this.

While Clinton is secretary of state, she has an office on the seventh floor of State Department headquarters, in an area often referred to as “Mahogany Row.” Her office and the surrounding area is considered a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Mobile devices such as BlackBerrys are not allowed in SCIF rooms, because they can be taken over by hackers and used to record audio and video.

But according to a September 2016 FBI report, “Interviews of three former DS [Diplomatic Security] agents revealed Clinton stored her personal BlackBerry in a desk drawer in a [Diplomatic Security] post which was located within the SCIF on Mahogany Row. State personnel were not authorized to bring their mobile devices into [the post], as it was located within the SCIF.”

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

However, according to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Clinton would leave the SCIF to use her BlackBerry, often visiting the eighth floor balcony to do so. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will later tell the FBI that he never received any complaints about Clinton using her BlackBerry inside the SCIF.

In contrast to the above evidence, in her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim that after her first month as secretary of state, she never brought her BlackBerry into the SCIF area at all, because she had been clearly told not to do that. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton may regularly carry two mobile devices at once, although she will later claim otherwise.

In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.

During a trip to the Middle East, Clinton is seen using two Blackberrys while being filmed for a National Geographic documentary called “Inside the State Department” on June 15, 2010. (Credit: National Geographic)

During a trip to the Middle East, Clinton is seen using two Blackberrys while being filmed for a National Geographic documentary called “Inside the State Department” on June 15, 2010. (Credit: National Geographic)

However, in 2016, Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton who helps manage the Clinton private server, will claim otherwise. In an FBI interview, “Cooper stated that he was aware of Clinton using a second mobile phone number. Cooper indicated Clinton usually carried a flip phone along with her BlackBerry because it was more comfortable for communication and Clinton was able to use her BlackBerry while talking on the flip phone.”

However, in Clinton’s 2016 FBI interview, “she did not recall using a flip phone during her tenure [as secretary of state], only during her service in the Senate.” In their FBI interviews, Clinton’s aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills “advised they were unaware of Clinton ever using a cellular phone other than the BlackBerry.”

According to FBI investigators, Clinton has “two known phone numbers… which potentially were used to send emails using Clinton’s clintonemail.com email addresses.” One is associated with her BlackBerry usage. Toll records associated with the other phone number “indicate the number was consistently used for phone calls in 2009 and then used sporadically through the duration of Clinton’s tenure and the years following. Records also showed that no BlackBerry devices were associated with this phone number.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton uses 11 different BlackBerrys and four iPads while she is secretary of state.

In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.

A 2009 Blackberry Bold 9700 (left) and a 2013 Blackberry 9720. (Credit: public domain)

A 2009 Blackberry Bold 9700 (left) and a 2013 Blackberry 9720. (Credit: public domain)

However, the FBI will later determine that Clinton actually used in succession 11 email-capable BlackBerrys while secretary of state. She uses two more BlackBerrys with the same phone number after her tenure is over. The FBI will not be able to obtain any of the BlackBerrys to examine them.

The FBI will later identify five iPad devices associated with Clinton which might have been used by Clinton to send emails. The FBI will later obtain three of the iPads. They will only examine two, because one was a gift that Clinton gave away as soon as she purchased it.

Clinton aide Monica Hanley often buys replacement BlackBerrys for Clinton from AT&T stores. Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps run Clinton’s private server, usually sets up the new devices and then syncs them to the server so she can access her email inbox. According to an FBI interview with Clinton aide Huma Abedin, “it was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton’s frequently discarded BlackBerrys are sometimes destroyed and sometimes disappear.

The FBI will later determine that Clinton uses 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state and two more using the same phone number after she leaves office. In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton stated that when her BlackBerry device malfunctioned, her aides would assist her in obtaining a new BlackBerry, and, after moving to a new device, her old SIM cards were disposed of by her aides.”

Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps manage Clinton’s private server, will later tell the FBI that he “did recall two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

However, according to Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Monica Hanley, “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton is unable to check her email in her office for the entire four years she is secretary of state.

She is said to be addicted to checking her email on her BlackBerry, but security officials refuse to let her take her BlackBerry into her office. Early in her tenure, security officials offer to install a secure computer with Internet access in her office to allow her to check email, but she doesn’t want it and never gets one.

In 2015, an unnamed senior NSA official will recall the conflict after retiring: “It was the usual Clinton prima donna stuff, the whole ‘rules are for other people’ act that I remembered from the ′90s. […] What did she not want put on a government system, where security people might see it? […]  I wonder now, and I sure wish I’d asked about it back in 2009.”

John Schindler (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

John Schindler (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later comment, “Why Ms. Clinton would not simply check her personal email on an office computer, like every other government employee less senior than the president, seems a germane question, given what a major scandal email-gate turned out to be.” (The New York Observer, 3/18/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton’s mobile devices and private server are never approved by her department’s security officials.

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, the department’s Diplomatic Security (DS) and Information Resources Management (IRM) security officials claim that Clinton never demonstrates to them that her private server or BlackBerry or iPad meets the minimum security requirements specified by the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

January 24, 2009: Clinton passes on using a secure computer to check her private email account at her office desk.

President Obama uses a BlackBerry while traveling in Indonesia in 2010. (Credit: Pete Souza / The White House)

President Obama uses a BlackBerry while traveling in Indonesia in 2010. (Credit: Pete Souza / The White House)

By this time, the National Security Agency (NSA) arranges for President Obama to use a secure, encrypted BlackBerry, allowing him to use it anywhere. Clinton and her top aides want Clinton to have one too.

On this day, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, asks in a group email, “[H]ow can we get her one?”

Lewis Lukens, Clinton’s logistics chief, responds the same day that he could help set up “a stand-alone PC [personal computer] in the Secretary’s office, connected to the Internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check her emails from her desk.”

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy replies that that is “a great idea.”

But apparently, Clinton insists on using her BlackBerry at all times and never a desktop computer, so no such computer is ever set up. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 2009: Security officials set up a space near Clinton’s office where she can check her private email account. 

Clinton meets with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her outer office,on January 25, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton meets with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her outer office, on January 25, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF, which means a secure room, and she’s not allowed to bring her BlackBerry into it. Also, Clinton is unwilling to use a computer to check her emails. But around this time, security officials create a space where she can check her BlackBerry.

In 2016, a State Department official will explain, “There is an area dedicated to supporting the secretary outside but in the immediate vicinity of the secretary’s secure office. Secretary Clinton, as with anyone, could use such non-SCIF spaces to check personal devices.” Apparently, Clinton will use this arrangement for her entire four years as secretary of state. (Fox News, 3/16/2016)

February 12, 2009: An email suggests Clinton gets a new cell phone, despite her later claims that she didn’t use one.

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Clinton talks on a flip phone in Washington, DC on November 14, 2006. (Credit: Karen Bleir / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

An email sent to or received by Clinton on this day has the subject heading: “Re: New cell.” It won’t be found in the over 30,000 Clinton emails given to the State Department in December 2014. Thus, the details are known because she will be asked about it in her July 2016 FBI interview.

According to a later FBI report, “Clinton stated she was familiar with the phone number ending in [redacted] referenced in the email. She believed the number was that of her BlackBerry because she did not recall using a flip phone during her time at State, only while in the Senate.”

However, in the FBI Clinton email investigation final report, evidence will be mentioned that Clinton actually had two phone numbers. One was for her BlackBerry, which she used just for emails, and one for her flip phone, which she used for phone calls. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 13, 2009: The NSA refuses to set up a secure BlackBerry for Clinton.

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Although the National Security Agency (NSA) has set up a secure, encrypted BlackBerry for President Obama, they are not interested in making one for Clinton.

On this day, Donald Reid, the State Department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, writes in an email, “The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure at State, and is very expensive.” He adds that “each time we asked the question ‘What was the solution for [President Obama]?’ we were politely told to shut up and color.”

On February 18, 2009, Reid had said in an email, “The issue here is one of personal comfort,” because Clinton and her top aides are “dedicated [BlackBerry] addicts.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 13, 2009: It appears the NSA will be able to give Clinton a secure BlackBerry, but this doesn’t happen.

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Credit: public domain)

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills writes in an email to Clinton that a National Security Agency (NSA) official “indicated they could address our BB [BlackBerry] so that BB could work in” secure spaces, “based upon some modifications that could be done.”

Clinton writes back, “That’s good news.”

Eventually, the NSA will decide that creating special BlackBerry modification would be too problematic, so Clinton and her aides will continue to use their unsecure BlackBerrys.

In December 2014, Clinton will turn over more than 30,000 emails, claiming those were all her work-related emails and she deleted the rest. These work-related emails will not be included in those. Instead, the State Department will give them to Judicial Watch in 2016 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Clinton will later inaccurately claim that she didn’t start using her private email account until March, 18, 2009. (The Hill, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/17/2016)

February 17, 2009: Clinton and her aides meet with security officials about using BlackBerrys in secure rooms, but no solution is found.

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Black Christian News Network One)

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Black Christian News Network One)

Clinton is frustrated, because she insists on using her personal BlackBerry device for all her emails, but she is not allowed to take it into her suite of offices where she works every day. The BlackBerry is considered a security risk, as it could be hijacked by hackers and turned into a listening device, so she always has to put it into a lockbox before entering her office.

On this day, she and her top aides have a meeting about this. Clinton, her chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and others meet with five National Security Agency (NSA) officials and security officials from the State Department and other agencies. They discuss ways for Clinton and her aides to use their BlackBerrys in secure rooms, but no easy solution is found.

Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry after the meeting while others keep trying to find a solution. Apparently, all the security officials in the meeting are unaware that Clinton’s emails are being stored on a private server in her house.

The Washington Post will later report, “Those officials took no steps to protect the server against intruders and spies, because they apparently were not told about it.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 24, 2009: A security official warns that BlackBerry could be easily hacked on overseas trips.

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner, chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, gives a speech to government officials and urges them to consider what possible attacks could have occurred during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics. “Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport. And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.”

Clinton had just returned from a trip to China and other Asian countries.

Although top State Department officials are aware of Brenner’s warning, she takes her BlackBerry on her future overseas trips despite it still not being inspected and secured by department officials. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Late February 2009: State Department security officials worry about Clinton’s BlackBerry use.

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. "Mahogany Row" is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. “Mahogany Row” is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Few State Department officials appear to know that Clinton has a private email server in her house.

However, news about her frequent BlackBerry use soon spreads among the Department’s security officials. They are concerned about “Mahogany Row,” the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides.

A decade earlier, Russian spies placed a listening device in a chair on that floor. Since then, on multiple occasions, hackers had breached computers in the State Department and other federal agencies.

State Department security officials are particularly concerned that Clinton’s BlackBerry could be compromised, and they worry that she could be setting a “bad example” for others in the department. They craft a memo that discusses the risks, which will be sent out on March 6. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 6, 2009—March 15, 2009: Clinton says she “gets it” about BlackBerry security concerns, but she keeps on using her BlackBerry.

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

On March 6, 2009, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell emails an internal State Department memo with the subject line “Use of BlackBerrys in Mahogany Row.” (“Mahogany Row” is where the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides are.) The memo states, “Our review reaffirms our belief that the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of BlackBerrys in the Mahogany Row [redacted] considerably outweigh the convenience their use can add. … Any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails, and exploiting calendars.”

According to an email by another security official nine days later on March 15, Clinton tells Boswell that she read his memo and “gets it.” That email adds, “Her attention was drawn to the sentence that indicates (Diplomatic Security) have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia.”

However, Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry and private server without any apparent changes. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 13, 2010: Clinton is photographed on this day using a phone that clearly isn’t her blue-colored Blackberry that is seen in many other photos of her from before and after this time.

Left: Clinton reads her BlackBerry at a ceremony in New York on November 11, 2008. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse / Getty Images) Center: Clinton speaks on a phone in a hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 13, 2010. (Credit: Mandel Ngan / Agence France Presse) Right: Clinton uses her Blackberry inside a military plane bound for Tripoli, Libya, on October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

Left: Clinton reads her BlackBerry at a ceremony in New York on November 11, 2008. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse / Getty Images) Center: Clinton speaks on a phone in a hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 13, 2010. (Credit: Mandel Ngan / Agence France Presse) Right: Clinton uses her Blackberry inside a military plane bound for Tripoli, Libya, on October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

It is not known if it is a borrowed phone or her phone. (Getty Images) (Getty Images) In 2015, after her use of only one private email address will become public, she will claim that this was because she only had one phone. She will mention that she bought an iPad in 2010, but the first iPad model will not be released until April 2010 and she will not buy one until July 2010. (The Associated Press, 3/11/2015) (The Washington Post, 3/31/2015) (US Department of State, 8/31/2015)

July 24, 2010: Clinton may start accessing the Internet at her Washington home using an unsecure, typical Wi-Fi connection.

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Clinton and Philippe Reines have an email chain about Clinton’s new iPad. Reines is Clinton’s press secretary and a senior advisor. It is a Saturday and apparently Clinton is at her home in Washington, DC, and trying to get her new iPad to work. She cannot connect to the Internet with it, so she asks Reines, “I don’t know if I have wi-fi. How do I find out?” (Wi-Fi technology allows one to connect to the Internet using a wireless local area network.)

Reines responds, “Let me talk to Justin & Huma to check out the situation, and if there is wi-fi I’m happy to swing by and set it up.” “Justin” is a likely reference to Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who registered Clinton’s private server in her Chappaqua, New York, house, and “Huma” is a likely reference to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) 

It is not known what happens, but it appears Reines is prepared to enable Clinton to regularly use her iPad at her home using a typical Wi-Fi network, without any extra security measures. Clinton begins using her iPad for her emails the next day, while continuing to use her BlackBerry. (US Department of State, 8/31/2015)

November 28, 2010: WikiLeaks releases over 250,000 State Department cables, but Clinton does not change her unsecure communication methods.

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

WikiLeaks, working with several major media outlets, begins publicly releasing over 250,000 diplomatic cables between the State Department and US embassies around the world. The cables date from 1966 to February 2010. None of the cables are classified at a level higher than “confidential,” the lowest classification level.

Clinton responds with the public comment, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity. […] It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.” (USA Today, 11/29/2010) (The New York Times, 11/28/2010) 

Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist for her 2008 presidential campaign, sends Clinton an email in which he recommends, “I think you need to order a full scale review and upgrading of the cyber security of the State Department immediately.” (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

However, despite this being the largest breach of State Department classified information in history, Clinton doesn’t change her personal communication methods, and continues to use an unsecured BlackBerry and an unsecured private email server. It is unknown if the State Department changes its cybersecurity as a whole, and if so, how.

August 31, 2011: Clinton emails Sid Blumenthal, telling him that she will be in Paris the next day to meet rebel leaders and says she had “to resort to new iPad.”

Clinton with President Nicholas Sarkozy at a conference in Paris, France, on September 1, 2011. (Credit: Lionel Bonaventure / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

Clinton with President Nicholas Sarkozy at a conference in Paris, France, on September 1, 2011. (Credit: Lionel Bonaventure / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

She needs the new iPad because she doesn’t have electricity or BlackBerry coverage in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Blumenthal is a private citizen without a security clearance but also a close confidant of Clinton’s. The email is one of 15 between Clinton and Blumenthal that Clinton did not give to the State Department, but Blumenthal did. (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015) 

Clinton began using an iPad in addition to her BlackBerry in 2010, including for work emails. (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015) Presumably, the iPad she uses in Paris and afterwards is not secured or approved by government security officials, just like her previous devices.

September 23, 2011: According to a State Department official, Clinton engages in Middle East negotiations using her unsecure BlackBerry.

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

On this day, Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meet in United Nations headquarters in New York City. The four of them work out a joint statement regarding an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by President Obama.

In a 2013 speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will discuss what happens between Clinton and Ashton: “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.” Sherman will comment that, “Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) (United Nations, 9/23/2011)

March 30, 2012—March 31, 2012: Clinton’s BlackBerry emails could be intercepted by Saudi Arabia while she visits that country.

Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Ambassador to the Clinton meets with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on March 30, 2012. (Credit: US Embassy Riyadh)

Clinton meets with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on March 30, 2012. (Credit: US Embassy Riyadh)

Clinton travels to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from March 30 to 31, 2012. (US Department of State, 3/30/2012)

This is notable because a September 2016 FBI report will reveal that Clinton regularly used her unsecure BlackBerry while outside the US, including sending and/or receiving “hundreds” of emails containing classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Furthermore, in August 2010, it was reported that Research in Motion (RIM), the company that makes BlackBerrys, agreed to locate three computer servers within Saudi Arabia, “putting them under the jurisdiction of local security forces,” according to an article at the time by the Register.

Headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) located in Waterloo, Ontario (Credit: public domain)

Headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) located in Waterloo, Ontario (Credit: public domain)

The effective result is that the Saudi government was able to intercept emails that have to briefly pass through the servers. RIM did not want to agree to this, but the Saudi government briefly suspended BlackBerry service until RIM gave in. Even emails sent through Saudi Arabia using personal encryption keys could be easily intercepted due to this agreement. (The Register, 8/9/2010)

Clinton is sent emails virtually every day, and her days in Saudi Arabia are no exceptions. One email classified at the “confidential” level is sent to Clinton on March 31, 2012, though it’s not clear if she is in Saudi Arabia at the time or not. The email concerns politics in Sudan and South Sudan. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

 

April 2012: A photo leads to confirmation Clinton is not using a government email account, but no action is taken.

Clinton checks her Blackberry in a military C-17 plane bound for Tripoli, Libya October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

Clinton checks her Blackberry in a military C-17 plane bound for Tripoli, Libya October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

A photo of Clinton using her BlackBerry while wearing sunglasses on a military plane in 2011 becomes popular on the Internet, prompting a “Texts from Hillary” meme.

In court testimony in 2016, State Director of Executive Secretariat Staff Karin Lang will recall that Clarence Finney, who oversees the State Department’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches, sees the photo in the media and wants to know if Clinton still does not have a government email account. Finney checks with the department’s information management staff and confirms she still doesn’t have one. According to Lang, Finney will not recall who told him this, or when it happened exactly. (Politico, 6/9/2016

However, the photo’s popularity starts and peaks in April 2012. The Washington Post comments about the photo at the time, “When Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her phone, she’s probably reading top secret e-mails…” But this does not lead to any attempt by Finney or others to find if she might have a private email account that could be responsive to FOIA requests. (The Washington Post, 4/5/2012)

May 3, 2013: In a public speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman says Clinton conducts diplomacy on her unsecure BlackBerry.

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Sherman says that technology “has changed the way diplomacy is done. […] Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” She recalls the 2011 United Nations General Assembly, during which Clinton and European diplomat Catherine Ashton negotiated. “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.”

The Hill will later note that Sherman’s comments “suggest that diplomats across the [State Department] routinely declined to use special protections for classified information to prioritize convenience.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) 

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later make the general observation, “The State Department has a longstanding reputation for being less than serious about security, and its communications have often wound up in foreign hands. It’s something of a tradition at [State Department headquarters], to the chagrin of the Intelligence Community…” (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

October 29, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton says she had to leave her phone and computer in a special box when traveling to China and Russia, but there is evidence she sent at least one email from Russia.

Clinton is greeted by Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Oleg Markov as US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28, 2012.

Clinton is greeted by Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg Oleg Markov, as US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 28, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[A]nybody who has ever traveled in other countries, some of which shall remain nameless, except for Russia and China, you know that you can’t bring your phones and your computers. And if you do, good luck. I mean, we would not only take the batteries out, we would leave the batteries and the devices on the plane in special boxes. Now, we didn’t do that because we thought it would be fun to tell somebody about. We did it because we knew that we were all targets and that we would be totally vulnerable.”

She will make similar comments in a private paid speech on August 28, 2014: “[E]very time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute, less, a nanosecond. So we would take the batteries out, we’d leave them on the plane.”

The comments from both speeches will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director. Although the comments are made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quotes will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

Based on information from 2016 FBI interviews of Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin, it appears Clinton used her BlackBerry while still secretary of state to send an email to President Obama from St. Petersburg, Russia on June 28, 2012.

October 29, 2013: In a private speech, Clinton says that her department officials “were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues.”

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Goldman Sachs, a financial services company. In it, she says, “[W]hen I got to the State Department, we were so far behind in technology, it was embarrassing. And, you know, people were not even allowed to use mobile devices because of security issues and cost issues, and we really had to try to push into the last part of the Twentieth Century in order to get people functioning in 2009 and ’10.

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

January 6, 2014: In a private speech, Clinton says when she got to State Department, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices.”

Clinton attends a meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and various business leaders on September 21, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for General Electric. In it, she says that when she arrived at the State Department as secretary of state, employees “were not mostly permitted to have handheld devices. I mean, so you’re thinking how do we operate in this new environment dominated by technology, globalizing forces? We have to change, and I can’t expect people to change if I don’t try to model it and lead it.”

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry mobile device during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

February 7, 2014: The State Department says classified information on devices like BlackBerrys are prohibited.

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

A reporter asks department spokesperson Jen Psaki if “State Department officials routinely use encrypted phones, mobile phones, for their conversations…” Psaki says in her reply, “Classified processing and classified conversation on a personal digital assisted device is prohibited.” (US Department of State, 2/7/2014) 

These comments are made before the controversy about Clinton’s use of a private BlackBerry for government emails begins.

August 28, 2014: In a private speech, Clinton admits it was against the rules for some State Department officials to use BlackBerrys at the same time she used one.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 (Credit: Noah Berger / The Associated Press)

Clinton speaks at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, August 28, 2014. (Credit: Noah Berger / The Associated Press)

Clinton gives a private paid speech for Nexenta Systems, a computer software company. In it, she says, “Let’s face it, our government is woefully, woefully behind in all of its policies that affect the use of technology. When I got to the State Department, it was still against the rules to let most — or let all foreign service officers have access to a BlackBerry.”

The comments will be flagged as potentially politically embarrassing by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, due to Clinton’s daily use of a BlackBerry during the same time period. Although the comment is made in private, Carrk’s January 2016 email mentioning the quote will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)