Early June 2015: Two inspectors general join forces to look into Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address when she was secretary of state.

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has already begun investigating Clinton’s emails and he and his staff read through hundreds of her emails. He has Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough get involved due to intelligence agencies having greater experience with classified records.

The concerns of the two inspectors general will continue to grow, leading them to ask the FBI to begin an investigation in early July 2015. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

June 24, 2015—August 6, 2015: Clinton’s emails are not properly secured with her lawyer.

The location of Williams & Connolly LLP offices, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Google Earth)

The location of Williams & Connolly LLP offices, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Google Earth)

On June 24, 2015, Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough learns in a letter written by Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall that copies of Clinton’s emails are being kept on a thumb drive in a safe in Kendall’s Washington, DC, office. This concerns McCullough, since those emails may still contain highly classified information.

The next day, McCullough calls an FBI official and has that person work with the State Department to give Kendall a government-issued safe to store the thumb drive instead. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015

The safe is installed in the office Kendall shares with his Williams & Connolly law partner Katherine Turner on July 6. Kendall and Turner had both recently gotten security clearances. (Politico, 8/25/2015) 

However, concerns soon arise that some of Clinton’s emails may contain “top secret” classified material, and even the new safe may not be secure enough. Additionally, the security clearances of Kendall and Turner may not be high enough to allow them to read or possess top secret information. Further security arrangements are made, although it’s not clear what those are.

Kendall finally turns the thumb drive over to the FBI on August 6, ending the problem. (Politico, 9/17/2015)

Shortly After July 6, 2015: FBI Director Comey wants no special treatment for the Clinton email investigation.

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

At some point in late summer, after two inspectors general sent a “security referral” about Clinton’s emails to the FBI on July 6, 2015, FBI Director James Comey meet with John Giacalone, head of the FBI’s National Security Branch. Giacalone briefs Comey on the referral and says he wants to investigate how classified secrets got in the emails and whether anyone had committed a crime in the process.

Comey agrees, but according to Giacalone, “He wanted to make sure it was treated the same way as all other cases.” Giacalone will retire in February 2016, leaving the case to others. (Time, 3/31/2016)

July 10, 2015: The FBI’s Clinton investigation formally begins.

In September 2016, the FBI will reveal in a publicly released report, “On July 10, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a full investigation based upon a referral received from the US Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), submitted in accordance with Section 81 1(c) of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 and dated July 6, 2015, regarding the potential unauthorized transmission and storage of classified information on the personal email server of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The FBI’s investigation focused on determining whether classified information was transmitted or stored on unclassified systems in violation of federal criminal statutes and whether classified information was compromised by unauthorized individuals, to include foreign governments or intelligence services, via cyber intrusion or other means.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

However, according to an account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this merely formalized it. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 23, 2015: Accounts differ if the FBI has started a criminal investigation into Clinton’s emails.

The New York Times reports that “two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation” into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in Clinton’s emails. (The FBI works for the Justice Department.)

The next day, a Justice Department confirms the report. But later in the day, the Justice Department backs away from its characterization of the referral as “criminal.” (The New York Times, 7/24/2015) (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015) Indeed, such a request was made on July 6, 2015. But technically, the referral is called a “security referral” and not a criminal one.

However, it will later emerge that the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails actually began in late May 2015, thus making the dispute over the type of referral largely a moot point. (CNN, 8/20/2015)

July 24, 2015: Many of Clinton’s emails contained classified information when they were sent, not just retroactively.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick issue a joint statement about their inquiry into Clinton’s emails. The statement says that out of a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails, Linick found four emails containing information that should have been classified at the time they were sent. “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to [Intelligence Community] classification officials, that information remains classified today. This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.” (US Department of State, 7/24/2015) 

One email will later be declassified by the State Department, and the department will dispute the classification of another one. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

July 24, 2015: Clinton’s account conflicts with the account of two inspectors general.

Responding to news that several “top secret” documents were found among Clinton’s emails, her campaign says that any government secrets found on the server had been classified after the fact. But the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough write in a joint statement that the information they found was classified when it was sent and remains so now. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2015)

July 25, 2015: Clinton says, “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.”

This is a shift from previous statements where she claimed her emails didn’t contain any classified material at all. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) Clinton also says that very few issues have emerged in her publicly released emails so far. “We’re talking about four or fewer.” However, the Wall Street Journal notes, “The inspector general has reviewed only about 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, though, suggesting that more secret or top-secret information could be found in the thousands… that remain.” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2015)

July 29, 2015: Former Naval Reserve Commander Bryan Nishimura pleads guilty to transferring classified data from a government computer to a personal computer.

150729BryanNishimuraZeroHedge

Bryan Nishimura (Credit: Zero Hedge)

He is sentenced to two years probation and a $7,500 fine. He obtained a large amount of classified data and satellite imagery while serving in Afghanistan in 2007 and then brought it home in 2008. He apparently simply kept the information for himself, as he had a reputation for collecting things. He also destroyed evidence when he was investigated in 2012. (The Sacramento Bee, 7/29/2015)

July 29, 2015: Congressional Republicans are increasingly concerned about Clinton’s lawyer possessing her emails.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Senator Ron Johnson (R), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a letter to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall. He asks him what he’s done to “safeguard the classified material in (his) possession,” meaning a thumb drive containing Clinton’s emails.

Bradley Moss, a lawyer who handles national security information, comments: “As a general rule, private non-government individuals, even those maintaining a security clearance, are not authorized to privately store classified information. […] I’m not aware of any other private lawyer who has a clearance being allowed to do what is being permitted here.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/30/2015) 

The FBI will finally take all the copies of the emails from Kendall on August 6, 2015.

August 14, 2015: The head of the US government’s National Archives says Clinton should have recognized classified information and shouldn’t have used a private server.

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick, who heads the Information Security Oversight Office in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), says that government agencies train officials with security clearances to spot sensitive material and then to look up the proper classifications, such as “confidential,” “secret” or “top secret.”

“If you write an email, you are expected to distinguish the classified from the unclassified. If you say ‘the CIA reports’ something—writing that sentence should set off alarm bells.” However, Fitzpatrick says that issue is somewhat academic given that Clinton had all her emails on a private server. “The rules require conducting any official business on an official system. There are many reasons for that—including assuring the security of the information, regardless of its classification. There is no argument to have those conversations in a private email.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

August 18, 2015: Clinton says her email scandal is largely a debate between government agencies over classification protocols.

In a press conference, she claims, “This has nothing to do with me. This has nothing to do with the fact that my account was personal. It’s the process by which the government, and sometimes in disagreement between various agencies of the government, make decisions about what can and cannot be disclosed.” (The Guardian, 9/9/2015)

August 19, 2015: Former CIA and NSA director Hayden says Clinton’s behavior was “stupid,” “dangerous,” and probably illegal.

Michael Hayden, who was appointed director of the NSA by President Bill Clinton and then director of the CIA by President George W. Bush, says that Hillary Clinton’s “original sin is actually co-mingling [her] two accounts and not using a government e-mail server. […] [P]ut legality aside just for a second, it’s stupid and dangerous. […] Dangerous to her and to the Republic and to American secrets. But… I don’t even think it was legal. That has to be against policy. Look, most folks like me, I never had a smart phone until I left government because of the sensitivity of the information I would put on there even if it were unclassified.” (MSNBC, 8/19/2015)

August 19, 2015: Nobody in the company that managed Clinton’s private email server had any government security clearances.

A generic photo of a relatively low-cost server rack. (Credit: rackmountsolutions)

A generic photo of a relatively low-cost server rack. (Credit: rackmountsolutions)

Platte River Networks is a small Colorado-based technology company, and they managed Clinton’s server from mid-2013 to early August 2015. They had never had a federal government contract and did not work for political campaigns. Nearly all their clients are local businesses. David DeCamillis, the company’s vice president of sales, says that if they’d had any clue what might have resulted from accepting the contract, “we would never have taken it on.” (The Washington Post, 8/19/2016) 

Furthermore, Cindy McGovern, a Defense Department spokesperson, says that Platte River “is not cleared” to have access to classified material. (Business Insider, 8/17/2015) 

Cybersecurity expert Alex McGeorge believes that if classified information was mishandled, the onus is on Clinton, not on the company. “The fact that Platte River is not a cleared contractor is largely irrelevant, [since] they were handling what should have been unclassified email. That classified email may have been received by a server under their control is troubling, and they may have been less equipped to deal with it, but it is ultimately not their fault.” (Business Insider, 8/19/2016)

August 19, 2015: Clinton publicly claims that the investigations about her server “has nothing to do with me.”

She contradicts her own State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick by reiterating that she never sent or received classified material. She says, “what I did was legally permitted.” She calls the current controversy nothing more than a ‘disagreement between agencies.” (The Guardian, 8/19/2015)

August 19, 2015: Clinton’s lawyer claims that all data, including Clinton’s emails, was erased from her server before it was turned over to the FBI.

150819ClintonTurnerKendallGetty

David Kendall (right) and Katherine Turner (left) sit behind Clinton during her testimony to the Benghazi committee on October 23, 2015. (Credit: Getty Images)

Lawyer David Kendall tells this to the Senate Homeland Security committee. He adds that both he and his office partner lawyer Katherine Turner had been given security clearances to handle a thumb drive containing some of Clinton’s emails, but he doesn’t say when. His comments don’t clarify if Clinton’s server was wiped or merely erased.

“Wiping” means that new data is written over the old data several times to make sure it can never be recovered. (The Guardian, 8/19/2015)

August 20, 2015: Former CIA Director James Woosley suggests Clinton could have committed a felony.

Former CIA director James Woolsey (Credit: public domain)

Woolsey, who was CIA director from 1993 to 1995 under President Bill Clinton, comments on Clinton’s email scandal: “What is really wrong here was setting up this separate email system and using it for government work. If anybody wants to set one up and use it for yoga appointments, wedding planning, okay, fine. But to have a server in a bathroom closet in Colorado that is dealing with potentially extremely classified material because it is material that is passing through the secretary of state’s conversations with her staff, that’s really very irresponsible. It is a felony. I think and there are some ways of dealing with this, putting something in the wrong place and making a mistake that are only a misdemeanor. But we’ve had now several of my successors in the intelligence business at senior levels plead to charges and be in situations where it is clear they violated the law, around some of those things look very similar to what has happened here.” (Fox News, 8/20/2015)

August 21, 2015: In many cases, information in Clinton’s emails were “born classified.”

That means they were classified from their creation. A Reuters analysis concludes, “In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own ‘classified’ stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The US government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to US officials by their foreign counterparts.” Although unmarked, Reuters’ analysis suggests that these emails “were classified from the start.”

J. William Leonard, a former director of the NARA Information Security Oversight Office, said that such information is “born classified” and that “If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by US rules that is classified at the moment it’s in US channels and US possession.” According to Reuters, the standard US government nondisclosure agreement “warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form.”

The State Department disputes Reuters’ analysis but does not elaborate or explain why. (Reuters, 8/21/2015)

August 23, 2015: One of Clinton’s former security managers cannot believe Clinton didn’t recognize “top secret” information in her emails.

Colonel Larry Mrozinski (Credit: Twitter)

Colonel Larry Mrozinski (Credit: Twitter)

Former Army Colonel Larry Mrozinski disagrees with a recent statement by Clinton in which she claimed, “I did not receive any material marked or designated classified, which is the way you know whether something is [classified].” He says, “That’s total BS.” Mrozinski was a senior military adviser and security manager in the State Department under both Condoleezza Rice and Clinton.

Referring to media reports that at least some of Clinton’s emails were deemed TS/SCI, or “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information,” he says, “TS/SCI is very serious and specific information that jumps out at you and screams ‘classified.’ […] It’s hard to imagine that in her position she would fail to recognize the obvious,” such as the keywords and phrases commonly used only in those emails, as well as its sourcing. “This is a serious breach of national security, and a clear violation of the law. […] You are strictly forbidden to discuss TS/SCI of any kind outside a SCIF [a highly secure reading room], [yet] she was viewing and handling it in direct violation of the law and possibly exposing it to our enemies. Anybody else would have already lost their security clearance and be subjected to an espionage investigation. But apparently a different standard exists for Mrs. Clinton.” (The New York Post, 8/23/2015)

September 2, 2015: Congressional committees are interested in the Clinton Foundation’s financial dealings.

The Daily Beast reports that regardless of what becomes of the FBI’s investigations into Clinton’s emails and private server, “more than one [Congressional] committee is interested in Hillary’s emails, far beyond the Benghazi investigation. Congressional investigators are looking into issues beyond classification, to include possible dirty financial deals” that benefitted Bill and Hillary Clinton and/or their Clinton Foundation.

An unnamed senior Congressional staffer says, “This was about a lot more than just some classified emails, and we’ll get to the bottom of it. But we’re happy to let the FBI do the heavy lifting for right now.” The staffer adds, “[N]ow the media won’t let go—and the Bureau definitely won’t. I wouldn’t want to be Hillary right now.” (The Daily Beast, 9/2/2015)

September 3, 2015: Snowden criticizes Clinton for her use of a private server.

Edward Snowden (Credit: Barton Gellman / Getty Images)

Edward Snowden (Credit: Barton Gellman / Getty Images)

Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower and international fugitive Edward Snowden says that lower-level government employees would “not only lose their jobs, [but] would very likely face prosecution” for doing that. He adds, “Anyone who has the clearances that the secretary of state has or the director of any top level agency has knows how classified information should be handled. When the unclassified systems of the United States government—which has a full time information security staff—regularly get hacked, the idea that someone keeping a private server in the renovated bathroom of a server farm in Colorado, is more secure is completely ridiculous.” (Al Jazeera America, 9/3/2015) 

The last statement is a reference to the fact that Platte River Networks, which managed Clinton’s server from June 2013 until August 2015, did in fact keep her server in a renovated bathroom. (The Daily Mail, 8/18/2015)

September 8, 2015: Clinton’s arrogance allegedly made her act “beyond all the rules.”

Mark Zaid (Credit: Albany Law School Archives)

Mark Zaid (Credit: Albany Law School Archives)

Mark Zaid, an attorney who has represented several famous national security whistleblowers, comments on Clinton’s use of a private email server. “I’m still dumbfounded by how this happened. Didn’t someone ask: Why are you doing this? At the level of the secretary of state, it would be impossible not to have classified information sent through the system. There’s a level of arrogance here that says she was beyond all the rules.” (The Los Angeles Times, 9/8/2015)

September 22, 2015: Clinton’s emails were improperly secured up until August 2015.

After it became clear by May 2015 that some of Clinton’s emails contained classified information, the security of the email copies possessed by Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall became an issue. In July 2015, State Department officials installed a special safe in Kendall’s office to store them.
However, on this day, Assistant Secretary of State Julia Frifield writes to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R) that “while the safe was suitable for up to (top secret) information, it was not approved for TS/SCI material.” “TS/SCI” stands for “top secret, sensitive compartmented information.” Top secret information and above, such as TS/SCI, must be kept in a specially built secure room known as a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility]. Frifield argues that no one in the department knew Clinton’s emails contained such highly classified information.
The issue was resolved in August 2015 when the FBI took away Kendall’s copies of the emails. (The Associated Press, 9/28/2015)

September 29, 2015: Some former government whistleblowers believe that “the scales of justice weigh differently for [Clinton] and other senior officials than it does” for low-level government employees.

Danielle Bryan (Credit: The Project on Government Oversight)

Danielle Bryan (Credit: The Project on Government Oversight)

This is according to McClatchy Newspapers. Cabinet-level officials like John Deutch, Sandy Berger, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus were charged with mishandling classified information, and yet all of them escaped jail. Thus, some believe that Clinton “will get off easy,” due to the politically powerful getting special treatment.

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), says that whistleblowers who reveal confidential or classified information have “lost their livelihoods, have been prosecuted, have even had their homes raided for heroically trying to stop wrongdoing. This is a far cry from how politically connected senior officials who have actually mishandled classified information, either for convenience or for self-aggrandizement, are treated. This double standard is frankly un-American.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

September 30, 2015: Clinton still has a security clearance despite the FBI looking into her handling of classified information during her time as secretary of state.

Clinton has been a private citizen since 2013, but it is standard procedure for high-ranking officials to keep their clearances after leaving office. However, McClatchy Newspapers comments, “While Clinton has kept her clearance, it’s common practice to suspend them while an investigation or internal inquiry is ongoing, according to some national security experts on Capitol Hill and in private practice.”

Bradley Moss, a lawyer who handles national security information, says, “If this were a normal employee, it would be entirely routine to temporarily suspend their access pending investigation.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/30/2015)

October 19, 2015: A Congressperson says a President Clinton could be quickly impeached due to her email scandal.

Representative Mo Brooks (Credit: Public Domain)

Representative Mo Brooks (Credit: Public Domain)

Representative Mo Brooks (R) says that his concern with Clinton’s use of a private email server is “how many lives she put at risk by violating all rules of law that are designed to protect America’s top secret and classified information from falling into the hands of our geopolitical foes who then might use that information to result in the deaths of Americans. […] [S]he will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November [2016], because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.” (The Huffington Post, 10/19/2015)

A few days later, Clinton reacts to the impeachment threat: “It’s just laughable! It’s so totally ridiculous. […] It perhaps is good politics with… the most intense, extreme part of [the Republican] base.” (Politico, 10/23/2015)

November 5, 2015: Sanders says Clinton’s email scandal raises “valid questions.”

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders clarifies his remarks made a month earlier about Clinton’s email scandal, in which he said the “American people are sick and tired of hearing about [her] damn emails!” He says that if Clinton avoided public records requests or compromised classified information, that raises “valid questions.” He also says the FBI’s investigation should “proceed unimpeded. […] There’s an investigation going on right now. I did not say, ‘End the investigation.’ That’s silly.” (Politico, 11/5/2015)

November 18, 2015: The person who sorted Clinton’s emails apparently fails to answer whether she had the security clearance to do so.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R) sends a letter to former Clinton aide and lawyer Heather Samuelson. In late 2014, Samuelson led the sorting process through Clinton’s 62,000 emails to determine which ones to turn over to The State Department and which ones to delete. She also worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then was a senior adviser to Clinton in the State Department.

Grassley asks if Samuelson had the security clearance necessary to handle Clinton’s emails, some of which were later deemed to contain “top secret” intelligence. He writes, “It is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”

A week later, Politico will try to contact Samuelson and the Clinton campaign about Grassley’s questions but got no response. After that there will be no news reports indicating if Grassley ever gets a reply. Earlier in 2015, Samuelson moved from Washington to New York with plans to work in Clinton’s presidential campaign headquarters there. But she never started the job, due to the controversy over her role in sorting Clinton’s emails. (Politico, 11/23/2015)

January 7, 2016: Blumenthal is interviewed by the FBI, and is asked about his intelligence memos to Clinton.

Blumenthal appears on MSNBC's Chris Hayes show to discuss emails and the campaign. (Credit: MSNBC)

Blumenthal appears on MSNBC  on May 13, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Sid Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, reporter, and Clinton Foundation employee in the years Clinton is secretary of state. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.

The FBI identified at least 179 out of the over 800 emails that Blumenthal sent to Clinton containing information in an intelligence memo format. The State Department determined that 24 Blumenthal memos that contained information currently classified as “confidential,” as well as one classified as “secret”  both currently and when it was sent.

Blumenthal tells the FBI that the content of the memos was provided to him from a number of different sources, including former US government officials and contacts, as well as contacts within foreign governments.

(In one email to Clinton, Blumenthal mentioned intelligence that he said came from an active US official, but apparently the FBI doesn’t ask him about this. The FBI report also will not mention emails in which Clinton sent Blumenthal classified information, despite him having no security clearance.)

Blumenthal’s memos contained a notation of “CONFIDENTIAL”  in all capital letters. He claims this meant the memos were personal in nature and didn’t refer to the US government category of classified information at the “confidential” level.

Blumenthal claims he was not tasked to provide this information to Clinton, but he sent the emails because he thought they could be helpful. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 19, 2016: Some of Clinton’s emails are too highly classified for an inspector general to read.

In the wake of media reports that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough discovered some of Clinton’s emails contained above top secret (or “top secret / special access program”) intelligence, an unnamed US intelligence official tells NBC News “that the special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it…” (NBC News, 1/19/2016)

January 21, 2016: Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey writes an editorial entitled “Clinton’s Emails: A Criminal Charge Is Justified.”

Attorney General Michael Mukasey (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Attorney General Michael Mukasey (Credit: Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mukasey argues that “intelligence community investigators believe it is nearly certain that Mrs. Clinton’s server was hacked, possibly by the Chinese or the Russians… [F]rom her direction that classification rules be disregarded, to the presence on her personal email server of information at the highest level of classification, to her repeated falsehoods of a sort that juries are told every day may be treated as evidence of guilty knowledge—it is nearly impossible to draw any conclusion other than that she knew enough to support a conviction at the least for mishandling classified information.” (The Wall Street Journal, 1/21/2016)

January 28, 2016: The Navy’s intelligence chief had his security clearance suspended during an investigation, but Petraeus and Clinton did not.

Vice Admiral Ted Branch (Credit: public domain)

Vice Admiral Ted Branch (Credit: public domain)

Vice Admiral Ted Branch had his security clearance suspended in November 2013, after the Navy learned his name surfaced in a Justice Department-led corruption investigation involving dozens of Navy personnel. No evidence has emerged that he compromised military secrets or committed any crimes. However, over 800 days later he has neither been charged nor cleared. He is the head of the Navy’s intelligence division, but he has less access to classified information than the lowest ranking sailor. He can’t even walk into any office without it being swept by security personnel first to make sure any classified documents are locked up. (The Washington Post, 1/28/2016)

By contrast, news reports indicate that neither Clinton nor any of her top aides have had their security clearances suspended, despite the ongoing FBI’s investigation into the mismanagement of classified information in their unsecured emails. Additionally, when CIA Director David Petraeus came under FBI investigation for mismanaging classified information in late 2012, his security clearance also was not formally revoked. He only had it suspended after he resigned. (Bloomberg News, 2/4/2016)

January 29, 2016: 22 emails retroactively deemed “top secret” had been sent through Clinton’s private server.

This is revealed by the State Department. However, the department will not make public any part of the 22 emails, not even the years they were sent or who sent them, because they contain such highly classified information. It is believed the 22 emails occurred in seven different email chains. (The New York Times, 1/29/2016) The US government defines “top secret” as “information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016) 

A Clinton spokesperson claims that none of those emails originated with Clinton. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 29, 2016: The State Department announces it is launching its own Clinton email investigation.

It will look into whether information on Clinton’s private server was classified at the time it was sent or received. The Wall Street Journal calls this a “dramatic reversal,” since the State Department has consistently downplayed the issue. This investigation is in addition to the FBI investigation and other inquiries. It is also separate from the investigation being conducted by the State Department’s inspector general office. (The Wall Street Journal, 1/29/2016)

January 30, 2016: Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey explains how classified information is kept separate.

This photo of a secret government facility shows how information of different classification levels reside on different systems on different computers, to prevent cross over. (Credit: Director of National Intelligence and Special Security Office)

This photo of a secret government facility shows how information of different classification levels reside on different systems on different computers, to prevent cross over. (Credit: Director of National Intelligence and Special Security Office)

Mukasey is asked if classified markings on Clinton’s “top secret” emails would have been removed before being emailed to Clinton. He replies, “Well, the documents originated someplace. They didn’t drop in from Mars. The person who originated them necessarily put classified markings on them… Now how did the markings get off? […] [There] is very particular language relating to the fact that there are three communication systems within the government. Non-secure, SIPR [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet] or secure, and the highest, which is JWICS [Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System]. The information from SIPR and from JWICS cannot move on the low end system, and if you put anything on there that’s got those markings on it, it essentially sets off an alarm that alerts people involved with security.”

He concludes, “[I]f she has signals intelligence or information from a human source that is obviously confidential and secret and relates to intelligence activities of the United States abroad, she’d have to have been a low grade moron in order to not know that it’s classified.” (CNN, 1/30/2016)