September 2, 2016: The FBI was unable to confirm hackers broke into Clinton’s system, but it cites an inability to gather enough evidence to do so.

The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report, released on this day, states, “FBI investigation and forensic analysis did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s email server systems were compromised by cyber means.” (Elsewhere in the report, it is mentioned that one email account on the server appears to have been broken into by hackers.)

A generic sample of what an attempted hack would look like in the log data. (Credit: public domain)

But the report goes on to state, “The FBI’s inability to recover all server equipment and the lack of complete server log data for the relevant time period limited the FBI’s forensic analysis of the server systems. As a result, FBI cyber analysis relied, in large part, on witness statements, email correspondence, and related forensic content found on other devices to understand the setup, maintenance, administration, and security of the server systems.”

Elsewhere in the report, it is noted that the FBI was unable to recover any of 13 the BlackBerry mobile devices Clinton used while or shortly after her tenure as secretary of state, a laptop containing a back-up of her emails was lost, the server most recently containing her emails was wiped with BleachBit software, the server used for her first two months in office was also lost, hard drive back-ups made were also lost, and so on.  (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

At the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation on July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey said there was no “direct evidence” Clinton’s email account had been successfully hacked. But the next day, the New York Times reported, “both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.”

September 5, 2016: Obama claims the US has “had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia.”

US President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the G-20 summit in China.

Obama and Putin have a pull-aside meeting at the G20 Summit in China on September 5, 2016. (Credit: Hamari Web)

Obama and Putin have a pull-aside meeting at the G20 Summit in China on September 5, 2016. (Credit: Hamari Web)

When Obama is questioned by reporters about accusations that Russia has been behind the hacking of US political entities, he answers: “I will tell you’ve had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past and from other countries in the past.”

He adds, “the goal is not to duplicate in the cyber area the cycle of escalation,” and his intent is “instituting some norms so that everybody’s acting responsibly.” (The Hill, 9/5/2016)

September 5, 2016: Clinton is “concerned” about Russian election-rigging in Trump’s favor.

Clinton holds an in-flight press conference on September 5, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press))

Clinton holds an in-flight press conference on September 5, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press))

Clinton comments about allegations of Russian hacking of US political entities: “I’m really concerned about the credible reports about Russian government interference in our elections … The fact that our intelligence professionals are now studying this, and taking it seriously… raises some grave questions about potential Russian interference with our electoral process.”

Clinton voices suspicions that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s could be colluding with Russia: “We’ve never had the nominee of one of our major parties urging the Russians to hack more… I think it’s quite intriguing that this activity has happened around the time Trump became the nominee… I often quote a great saying that I learned from living in Arkansas for many years: If you find a turtle on a fence post, it didn’t get there by itself.” (Politico, 9/5/2016)

 

September 13, 2016: Justin Cooper was an administrator of Clinton’s private server and yet had no security clearance; Clinton apparently wasn’t asked about this.

Justin Cooper appears before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016 (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Justin Cooper appears before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Justin Cooper worked with Bryan Pagliano to manage Clinton’s private server while she was secretary of state. But while Pagliano was a State Department employee, Cooper was an aide to former President Bill Clinton as well as a Clinton Foundation employee. When Cooper testifies before a Congressional committee on this day, he is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) if he had a security clearance while he was helping to manage the server.

He replies, “No, I did not have a security clearance.”

He mentions that he worked in the White House from 2000 to 2001, but he is not asked if he had a security clearance in those years. However, he mentions that he wasn’t involved in handling classified information at that time.

Chaffetz also asks him, “You had access to the server the entire time you were working for the Clintons?”

He answers, “Yes I had access to the server.”

He also mentions that both he and Pagliano had remote access, which means they could have accessed Clinton’s emails over the Internet at any time. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

Curiously, the FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report, released earlier in September 2016, doesn’t mention Cooper’s lack of a security clearance. Nor is it mentioned in the summary of Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, which is made public in early September 2016 as well, if Clinton knew Cooper had no security clearance when she hired him and continued to pay him for managing the server. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 13, 2016: “Less than 20 people” had access to Clinton’s private server.

Cooper shakes hands with Representative Chaffetz after the hearing. (Credit: public domain)

Cooper shakes hands with Representative Chaffetz after the hearing. (Credit: CSpan)

Justin Cooper worked with Bryan Pagliano to manage Clinton’s private server while she was secretary of state. When Cooper testifies before a Congressional committee on this day, he is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), “[H]ow many people had access to the server?”

He replies, “There were two people who had some administrative rights, myself and Mr. Pagliano. I can’t off the top of my head tell you exactly how many users there were over the lifetime of the server, but it was less than 20 people.”

He also mentions, “The only remote access login to the server was for myself and Mr. Pagliano.”

At other points in his testimony, he says that most of the users were members of former President Bill Clinton’s staff and/or Clinton Foundation employees. Cooper doesn’t have a security clearance and its probable that most of the others with access to the server don’t have security clearances either. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

In July 2016, FBI Director James Comey claimed that Clinton gave between three and nine people without a security clearance access to the server, but he may be defining “access” in a different manner than Cooper.

October 12, 2016: The Clinton campaign suggests that some emails released by WikiLeaks could be forgeries, but experts have found no evidence of this.

Tim Kaine appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Tim Kaine appears on CNN’s “State of the Union” on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing an average of about 2,000 emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta every day. Podesta and the Clinton campaign has admitted his account got hacked, but they have suggested that some of the emails could be forgeries. For instance, on October 9, 2016, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said in a CNN interview, “I don’t think we can dignify documents dumped by WikiLeaks and just assume they are all accurate and true. Anybody who hacks in to get documents is completely capable of manipulating them.”

However, Politico reports, “Clinton’s team hasn’t challenged the accuracy of even the most salacious emails… And numerous digital forensic firms told Politico that they haven’t seen any proof of tampering in the emails they’ve examined — adding that only the hacked Democrats themselves could offer that kind of conclusive evidence.”

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante, a director of the cybersecurity company FireEye, says, “It’s very hard to go verify what is true and what’s not. Even the victims of the accounts that are getting exposed are having a hard time.”

Politico also comments, “Experts have warned for months about the possibility that the document leaks may eventually include a sprinkling of falsehoods to stoke their impact, noting that Russian and Soviet intelligence services had long used such techniques against their enemies.” The US government alleges that the Russian government has been behind some recent hacking of US political entities.

A WikiLeaks spokesperson dismisses claims some of the emails are fake. “Standard nonsense pushed by those who have something to hide. WikiLeaks has won a great many awards for its journalistic work and has the best vetting record of any media organization. … In fact, it’s completely legitimate to everyone in the journalism industry that [the emails] are exactly as we say they are, which is why everyone is running with them.”

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

However, some experts point out that hackers could have tampered with emails before giving them to WikiLeaks, or they may choose to only selectively hand over emails that promote a certain political agenda.

Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity researcher and professor, says, “Of course it would be more effective for [the Russians] not to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks in any way by altering documents. But if we look at their past behavior, that is certainly something that has been considered and actually done in the past.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

November 2, 2016: It is alleged there is 99% certainty that Clinton’s private server was hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies.

Bret Baier (Credit: public domain)

Bret Baier (Credit: public domain)

During a story about new developments in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, Fox News journalist Bret Baier claims that his sources also say the FBI has a greater than 99 percent confidence that Clinton’s private email server was hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies. Also, information had been successfully taken from the server.

However, further details, such as which five countries these are, what information was taken, or how the FBI has learned this, are not mentioned. (Real Clear Politics, 11/2/2016)

On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey said there was no “direct evidence” Clinton’s email account had been successfully hacked. But the next day, the New York Times reported that “both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.”