June 19–20, 2012: Cheryl Mills conducts interviews to find the Clinton Foundation’s next leader while working as Clinton’s chief of staff, raising a possible conflict of interest.

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Cheryl D. Mills speaks during a commitment workshop titled “Haiti: Lessons for the Future” at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting on September 24, 2012. The CGI logo is in the background. (Credit: Reuters)

On June 19, 2012, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills travels from Washington, DC, to New York City. The next day, she interviews two high-level business executives in order to help the Clinton Foundation find a new leader.

When Clinton became secretary of state, she and the Clinton Foundation agreed to abide by rules specially created in an agreement with the Obama administration not to “create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State.”

When news of this trip is made public in August 2016, Clinton’s campaign will claim that any work Mills did for the Clinton Foundation, such as this trip, was strictly voluntary.

The two executives interviewed by Mills had worked at Pfizer and WalMart, companies that CNN points out “have been huge donors to Foundation, and have worked with the Clinton Global Initiative.” However, neither of them get the job. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

May 15, 2015: Dozens of media organizations and journalists have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

Carlos Slim (Credit: ABC News)

The foundation’s records show that there are not many news outlets who would report on the foundation and didn’t donate some money to it. The following have given at least $1 million:

  • Carlos Slim, the Mexican multibillionaire who is also the largest New York Times shareholder.
  • James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, and the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
  • Newsmax Media, the conservative media outlet.
  • Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Reuters news service.

Others to donate smaller amounts include Google, Bloomberg, Richard Mellon Scaife, Mort Zuckerman, AOL, HBO, Viacom, Turner Broadcasting (CNN), Twitter, Comcast, NBC Universal, PBS, the Washington Post, and many more. (Politico, 5/15/2015)

March 2,2016–March 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is focusing on possible crimes.

On March 2, 2016, the Washington Post reports, “The Clinton campaign has described the [FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails] as a security review. But current and former officials in the FBI and at the Justice Department have said investigators are trying to determine whether a crime was committed.” One former senior law enforcement official asks, “There was wrongdoing. But was it criminal wrongdoing?” (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016) 

The next day, CNN similarly reports, “FBI investigators are expected to shift their focus on whether the highly sensitive government information, including top secret and other classified matters, found on Clinton’s private email server constitutes a crime.” (CNN, 3/3/2016)

March 5, 2016: Pagliano’s immunity deal suggests a grand jury could already have been convened.

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

CNN’s legal analyst Danny Cevallos suggests the news that the FBI has granted immunity to Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano could mean a grand jury has been convened in the FBI’s Clinton investigation. “The smart bet is yes. After all, the fact that there are immunity agreements logically means there’s a grand jury investigation in some district. The grand jury is typically the genesis of the government’s subpoena power. The next, bigger question, is whether anyone will be indicted. The mere fact that the [Department of Justice] wants to talk to Pagliano does not mean anyone will be indicted. But if [they are] investigating criminal activity, they tend to find criminal activity.”

Cevallos points out that the federal conviction rate is well above 90%. He also suggests that Pagliano may not be out of legal danger, depending on what kind of immunity he was given. (CNN, 3/5/2016) 

Other legal observers have conflicting opinions on the significance of the deal. Criminal defense lawyer Jacob Frenkel says it “raises exponentially the stakes in the investigation. […] This is a significant piece in providing clarity to an otherwise complicated jigsaw puzzle, [but] we do not know exactly where Mr. Pagliano’s finger or fingers will point.” Also, there has been no official sign that a grand jury has been convened. (The Washington Post, 3/3/2016)

March 12, 2016: Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, appears to leak a debate question to the Clinton campaign in advance.

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”

Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.

Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)

Spring 2016: FBI and Justice Department officials consider opening a specific corruption case regarding the Clinton Foundation, but decide not to do so.

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Clinton appears with Governor Terry McAuliffe during a campaign rally on February 29, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia. (Credit: Paul J. Richards / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

According to CNN in August 2016, some time around the spring of 2016, the FBI receives a notice from a bank of suspicious activity from an unnamed foreigner who had donated to the Clinton Foundation. Three FBI field offices come to an agreement that an investigation regarding this activity should be started. However, during a meeting between the FBI and the Justice Department, it is decided not to pursue an investigation. According to CNN, Justice officials are concerned the request seems more political than substantive, especially given that Hillary Clinton is running for president at the time, and they are against opening an investigation, so it is not pursued.

However, at least one other Clinton Foundation investigation raised at that same meeting does continue – an FBI investigation into Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and his ties to a Clinton Foundation donor. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

July 2, 2016: Clinton tells the FBI she can’t recall key details 40 times in her FBI interview.

When Clinton is interviewed by the FBI for three and a half hours, she often fails to give clear answers. According to CNN, “Clinton repeatedly told the FBI she couldn’t recall key details and events related to classified information procedures…” The FBI’s summary of the interview, released in September 2016, will indicate “Clinton told investigators she either does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ at least 39 times — often in response to questions about process, potential training, or the content of specific emails.” (CNN, 9/2/2016)

Mediaite will list 40 times when she says she couldn’t remember or recall something. (Mediaite, 9/2/2016)

A few examples from Mediate's list of 40. (Credit: Mediate)

A few examples from Mediaite’s list of 40 times Clinton couldn’t remember or recall something. (Credit: Mediaite)

The Washington Post will similarly note, “she repeatedly told agents she could not recall important details or specific emails she was questioned about.” Some of her forgetfulness is hard to believe, such as an observation by the Post that she claimed she “did not know much about how the government classified information. For instance, she said she did not pay attention to the difference between levels of classification, like ‘top secret’ and ‘secret,’ indicating she took ‘all classified information seriously.'” Additionally, when she was shown with the (C) marking, which is commonly used by the department to indicate classified information, she didn’t recognize it. (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)

The FBI summary will mention that “in December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot. Based on her doctor’s advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

August 11, 2016: The State Department fails to answer questions about a possible conflict of interest involving the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills in June 2012.

In January 2016, Senator Charles Grassley (R), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking about Cheryl Mills’ role in picking the next head of the Clinton Foundation by interviewing two candidates for that position on June 20, 2012. At the time, Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff in the State Department, and Clinton had vowed not to allow any action that even created the appearance of a conflict of interest between Clinton’s management of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

However, on August 11, 2016, CNN reports that Grassley still has received no official reply from the State Department.

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Scott Amey (Credit: public domain)

Scott Amey, an attorney for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), says, “Congress has a rightful right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them. And the government should be turning that information over. When you have a breakdown in that system, we have a breakdown in our democracy.”

CNN also asks the State Department if Mills had or needed permission from the department for the trip, or if anyone from the department was even aware of what she was doing. A department spokesperson doesn’t directly answer the question, except to say that Mills had the right to do what she wanted on her own time if it was strictly voluntary in nature. (CNN, 8/11/2016)

August 23, 2016: US officials believe hackers have been targeting the New York Times and other US news outlets, and the Russian government might be responsible.

Cyber attacks on such media organizations have been “detected in recent months,” and are being investigated by the FBI and other US agencies. CNN reports, “Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations,” according to unnamed US officials.

Little has been publicly revealed about the media attacks except for the attacks on the New York Times. The Times says their email services are outsourced to Google and they have no evidence that their computer networks have been compromised. CNN claims that individual reporters have been targeted, not entire networks, but it is unclear how many were targeted or how many had their email accounts breached.

CNN further reports, “US intelligence officials believe the picture emerging from the series of recent intrusions is that Russian spy agencies are using a wave of cyber attacks, including against think-tanks in Washington, to gather intelligence from a broad array of non-governmental organizations with windows into the US political system. News organizations are considered top targets because they can yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts in the government, as well as communications and unpublished works with sensitive information…” (CNN, 8/23/2016)

The Associated Press is less definitive about who might be responsible, saying that an unnamed US official claims the FBI is looking into whether Russian intelligence agencies are responsible for the hacking attempts. (The Associated Press, 8/23/2016)

September 8, 2016: The US presidential race is tightening, mainly due to Clinton’s email and Clinton Foundation controversies.

A CNN/ORC poll indicates that Clinton’s email controversy is negatively impacting her chances to defeat Donald Trump in the November 2016 presidential election. Over the past month, she went from having a commanding lead over Trump to a narrow one.

A graphic for the results of a recent poll conducted by CNN and ORC International. (Credit: CNN / ORC)

A chart that indicates the results of a recent poll conducted on September 1 – 4, 2016. (Credit: CNN / ORC)

In March 2015, when reporting on her email controversy began, 46 percent of registered voters agreed with the statement that her use of the server is “an important indicator of her character and ability to serve as president.” That number has risen steadily in other CNN polls to 62 percent in the most recent one.

Sixty percent also say the Clinton Foundation should be shut down either now or if she becomes president. (CNN, 9/9/2016)

The next day, the Washington Post comments on the poll results in an article with the title: “Hillary Clinton’s email server is why this race is still close.” It argues that Trump’s popularity poll numbers make him the most unpopular presidential nominee in modern history. But Clinton’s popularity has declined to be basically as bad as Trump’s. “And the reason is clear: The email story is absolutely killing her — and ruining what might otherwise be a coronation. … [I]f you look closely, perceptions about her email server track closely with her overall image and her perceived honesty and trustworthiness.” (The Washington Post, 9/9/2016)

October 31, 2016: FBI investigators believe some newly discovered Huma Abedin emails were deleted from Clinton’s private server before the FBI took possession of it.

Three days after FBI Director James Comey made his surprise announcement that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to the discovery of emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, CNN reports that FBI agents still don’t know what is in the emails. However, it has been reported that at least some of the email metadata has been examined, and “Investigators believe it’s likely the newly recovered trove will include emails that were deleted from the Clinton server before the FBI took possession of it as part of that earlier investigation.”

The FBI took possession of one version of the server in August 2015 and a newer version of the server in October 2015.

Also, “investigators saw enough of the emails to determine that they appeared pertinent to the previously completed [Clinton email] investigation and that they may be emails not previously reviewed. [But] because they didn’t have a warrant specific to Abedin’s emails, [they] weren’t able to further examine them.”

However, “FBI officials don’t yet know how many of the emails are duplicates of emails they already have reviewed as part of the Clinton email server investigation and whether any of them may contain classified information.” (CNN, 10/31/2016)