This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)
The email was written by State Department official Tim Davis on April 10, 2011, and forwarded to Clinton. It contained very time-sensitive information on evacuation plans by Special Envoy Christopher Stevens in Libya, as well as the latest US military intelligence on the Libyan civil war violence threatening Stevens.
As a result, the release of this email without redactions will start an internal government dispute. The State Department releases the email because they deemed the military intelligence in it was no longer important four years later.
However, Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough will claim that since the military intelligence originated from the US military, the State Department didn’t have the authority if it should be classified or not. This email will lead to the FBI starting an investigation into Clinton’s emails in late May 2015.
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will later say the dispute about this email “lifted the curtain” and shows that the email scandal can be explained by excessive retroactive classification.
But CNN will report, “However, the Clinton interpretation doesn’t account for the fact that the [email] did contain particularly sensitive information at the time it was sent. Plans to move the envoy and staff would not have been appropriate to be sent on unclassified email systems and particularly not to a non-government email server.” (The New York Times, 5/22/2015) (CNN, 8/20/2015)
It will later be widely reported that after State Department Inspector General Steve Linick finds four emails with what he deemed classified information in a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails, Linick and another inspector general will formally ask the FBI for a “security referral” into Clinton’s emails in July 2015. The FBI’s investigation will formaly begin on July 10, 2015.
And while that is true, CNN will report in August 2015 that the FBI already began investigating Clinton’s emails in May 2015 due to one email being released on May 22nd that appeared to contain intelligence that should have been classified.
That email, written by State Department official Tim Davis on April 10, 2011, and forwarded to Clinton, contained the latest information about plans to evacuate US government officials from Libya that day, as well as the latest US military intelligence on the civil war raging near those officials. (CNN, 8/20/2015)
In September 2016, it will be revealed that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally began on July 10, 2015. However, according to account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun informally investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015. (CNN, 8/20/2015)
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)
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)
An FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation begins around the summer of 2015, after the publication of the controversial book Clinton Cash in May 2015. The author Peter Schweizer will be interviewed multiple times by the FBI. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)
In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report: “The probe of the foundation began… to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.” (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)
In November 2016, CNN will comment on the investigation starting due to Clinton Cash: “It’s not uncommon for FBI probes to begin as a result of or be fueled by published news articles or books.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)
The investigation will continue, but the Justice Department will not give the FBI subpoena powers, keeping the investigation limited and hobbled.
Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick jointly send the FBI a “security referral,” asking the FBI to investigate Clinton’s private emails and server. This grew out of McCullough and Steve Linick reviewing some of the over 30,000 Clinton emails handed over to the State Department in December 2014. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)
However, according to another account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this referral would only have spurred on that effort. (CNN, 8/20/2015) The FBI formally begins their Clinton investigation four days later, on July 10, 2015.
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)
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)
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)
The New York Times reveals that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough told the FBI, Justice Department, and members of Congress that Clinton had “top secret” information in two emails among the random selection of 40 emails that the State Department had allowed him to review. Additionally, two other emails contained “secret” level information. “Top secret” is the highest classification level, and “secret” is the medium level.
The State Department refused to give McCullough access to the entire trove of roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton handed over to the Department last year, and which are slowly being released to the public in batches. But State Department official Patrick Kennedy admits that it is likely that the entire body of emails contains hundreds of instances of classified information. (The New York Times, 7/24/2015)
The classification level of a couple of these emails will be downgraded later, but one will remain “top secret.” And eventually, over 2,000 of her emails will be found to have contained classified information.
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.
On July 31, 2015, a Justice Department prosecutor calls Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall seeking a thumb drive that contained a copy of the 30,000 emails that Clinton had already turned over to the State Department, according to a person briefed about the conversation.
At some point in August 2015, employees at Datto, Inc., a company that specializes in backing up computer data, realize that a private server they have been backing up belongs to Clinton. The server is being managed by Platte River Networks (PRN), and Datto made the connection after media reports revealed PRN’s role.
According to an unnamed Datto official, due to worries about the “sensitive high profile nature of the data,” Datto then recommends that PRN should upgrade security by adding sophisticated encryption technology to its backup systems.
PRN spokesperson Andy Boian later acknowledges receiving upgrade requests from Datto, but he says, “It’s not that we ignored them, but the FBI had told us not to change or adjust anything.”
Boian adds, however, the company did not take Datto’s concerns to the FBI.
The newest version of the server is still in use by the Clintons’ personal office at the time, despite being in news headlines since March 2015. (The Washington Post, 10/7/2015)
On August 12, 2015, the FBI takes an older version of the server from PRN’s control. The FBI doesn’t realize Clinton’s emails were moved from the old server to the new one. They eventually will figure this out and take the new server away as well, on October 3, 2015.
Justin Cooper is a former Bill Clinton aide who helped Bryan Pagliano manage Clinton’s private server while Clinton was secretary of state.
In September 2016 Congressional testimony, Cooper will reveal that he was interviewed by the FBI three times as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The first time is in August 2015, the second time is in the fall of 2015, and the third time is in the spring of 2016. He will say he was never offered an immunity deal. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
Cooper appears to have been the first key play in the Clinton email controversy to have been interviewed by the FBI.
Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, gives the FBI a thumb drive which has a .pst file containing 30,524 emails. On December 5, 2014, Clinton’s lawyers gave the State Department 30,490 emails, sorted to be all of Clinton’s work-related emails. It isn’t clear why there is a 34 email difference.
On July 31, 2016, the Justice Department asked Kendall to turn over his thumb drive.
Clinton lawyer Heather Samuelson put the .pst file on a thumb drive and gave it to Kendall around the above-mentioned December 5, 2014 date. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
This comes after months of her refusing to hand it over. (The New York Times, 8/11/2015) The old server is picked up by the FBI from the management of Platte River Networks (PRN) one day later. It is being kept at an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and it is picked up there.
However, the company transferred Clinton’s data to a new server, which is also being managed by PRN and is kept at the same data center. The FBI won’t pick up that one until October 2015.
The Washington Post reports that Clinton’s old server, which was in a New Jersey data center, had all its data deleted some time earlier.
A lawyer for Platte River Networks, the company that managed the server, says, “To my knowledge, the data on the old server is not available now on any servers or devices in Platte River Network’s control.”
Investigators also take thumb drives from Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall containing copies of Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 8/12/2015)
There are two Clinton servers in existence at the time, and both the old and new ones are located at the Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
However, a September 2016 FBI report will explain that Clinton’s lawyers never revealed that Clinton’s emails had once been transferred from the old server to the new server, so the FBI only picks up the old server. The FBI will later learn on its own about the transfer and then pick up the new server as well, on October 3, 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In a mass email sent to Clinton supporters, Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri says that investigations by the FBI and other government agencies into Clinton’s use of a private email account and private server are partisan attacks “designed to do political damage to Hillary in the run-up to the election.”
Palmieri claims that that Clinton is not facing a criminal investigation. “The bottom line: This kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president. We know it, Hillary knows it, and we expect it to continue from now until Election Day.” (The Chicago Tribune, 8/12/2015)
In March 2016, the Los Angeles Times will report that some time after the FBI took possession of Clinton’s private server on August 12, 2015, the FBI “has since recovered most, if not all, of the deleted correspondence, said a person familiar with the investigation.” Clinton deleted 31,830 emails, claiming they were not work-related. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)
In a September 2016 FBI report, it will turn out that the FBI was able to recover about 17,500 of the deleted emails.
This is according to Bloomberg News, based on information from an unnamed US official. The data may have been backed up on another machine. Peter Toren, a former computer crimes prosecutor for the Justice Department, says Clinton didn’t use a private server “because it was convenient for her. There’s a ton of email services that are available that are actually quite secure, easy to use, and you can use them on every device.” (Bloomberg News, 8/13/2015)
Security expert Matt Devost similarly comments that when it comes to a private server like Clinton’s, “You erase it and everything’s gone,” while commercial email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail retain copies even after users erase them from their inboxes, which could be why Clinton didn’t use them for her email account. (Bloomberg News, 3/4/2015)
However, many of Clinton’s top aides did use commercial email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail, and the FBI could find copies of some of Clinton’s emails by asking those companies to check their back-up copies. (Bloomberg News, 8/13/2015)
The New York Times reports that according to several unnamed US officials, “specially trained cybersecurity investigators will seek to determine whether Russian, Chinese, or other hackers breached the account or tried to transfer any of Mrs. Clinton’s emails…” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)
An unnamed State Department official who works in the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) is interviewed by the FBI on this day. According to a later FBI summary of the interview, she claims that around August 10, 2015, just a week before the interview, “[redacted] from Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) called [her] and told her Centcom records showed approximately 1,000 work-related emails between Clinton’s personal email and General David Petraeus, former commander of Centcom and former director of the CIA. Most of those 1,000 emails were not believed to be included in the 30,000 emails that IPS was reviewing. Out of the 30,000 emails, IPS only had a few emails from or related to Petraeus…” She “recommended the FBI should talk with [redacted] regarding the alleged 1,000 emails between Clinton and Petraeus.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
On September 25, 2015, the New York Times will report on the existence of 19 work-related emails between Clinton and Petraeus sent in January 2009 that were not turned over when Clinton gave what she said was all her 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department in December 2014. Since that time, neither these 19 emails nor any other of the alleged 1,000 emails between them have been made public.
That company is Platte River Networks (PRN), which managed her server from mid-2013 until early August 2015. The company is cooperating with the FBI.
That means that any emails Clinton deleted before she handed the server over to investigators may still be accessible. (Business Insider, 8/17/2015)
The mention of a backup copy of the server could be a reference to Datto, Inc., a company that made backups of Clinton’s server while it was in Platte River’s possession. (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)
Platte River Networks (PRN) has managed Clinton’s server since June 2013. Furthermore, PRN subcontracted with Datto, Inc. to make periodic back-ups of the server’s data. It has been claimed that Clinton Executive Service Corp. (CESC), the Clinton family company that hired PRN in June 2013, always made clear that there should be a 30-day deletion policy for the Datto back-up of the server. That means that any deleted email would be permanently deleted after 30 days.
However, an August 18, 2015 email from one PRN employee, Paul Combetta, to another, Bill Thornton, suggests the implementation of this policy actually happened later. Combetta believes that CESC directed PRN to reduce the length of time backups, but “this was all phone comms [communications].”
Thorton replies the next day. The email has the subject heading “CESC Datto.” He writes, “Any chance you found an old email with their directive to cut the backup back in Oct-Feb. I know they had you cut it once in Oct-Nov, then again to 30 days in Feb-ish.” (Presumably this refers to October 2014 through February 2015.)
Thornton continues, “If we had that email, then we’re golden. … Wondering how we can sneak an email in now after the fact asking them when they told us to cut the backups and have them confirm it for our records. Starting to think this whole thing really is covering up some shady shit. I just think if we have it in writing that they [CESC] told us to cut the backups, and we can go public with our statement saying we have had backups since day one, then we were told to trim to 30 days, it would make us look a WHOLE LOT better.” (Politico, 10/6/2015) (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015) (US Congress, 9/12/2016) (The New York Post, 9/18/2016)
Combetta replies, “I’ll look again, but I’m almost positive we don’t have anything about the 60 day cut. … It’s up to lawyer crap now, so just sit back and enjoy the silly headlines.”
Then, seemingly without any prompting, Combetta makes some comments supportive of Clinton’s position in her email controversy: “It wasn’t the law to be required to use government email servers at the State Department, believe it or not. Colin Powell used an AOL address for communicating with his staff, believe it or not.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2016)
It’s not clear when the deletion policy for the Datto back-up of the server was instituted or changed. But if these employees are correct, the change would have come after Clinton was formally asked to hand over all her emails, which took place in October 2014.
Clinton’s campaign has acknowledged “that there was an attempt to wipe [Clinton’s private] server before it was turned over last week to the FBI. But two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News… that the [FBI] may be able to recover at least some data.” (NBC News, 8/19/2015)
“Wiping” refers to repeatedly overwriting data with new data to make sure it can never be recovered. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)
In 2016, it be revealed that Paul Combetta, an employee of Platte River Networks, the company managing Clinton’s private server, deleted and then wiped Clinton’s emails in March 2015.
Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s lawyer and former chief of staff, will be interviewed by the FBI in April 2016 and will claim that she never knew Clinton’s emails were deleted or wiped, even though she was in communcation with Combetta shortly before and after when he did the deleting and wiping. Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, and will similarly claim that she never knew her emails were deleted orr wiped.
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)
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan says of Clinton in a court hearing, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy.” He orders the State Department to ask the FBI if Clinton’s server now possessed by the FBI still contains official records that have been demanded in various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits. He says that although the law normally doesn’t allow for searches of private email accounts, this is an unusual situation because “there was a violation of government policy.”
In response, Clinton’s spokesperson Brian Fallon continues to insist that Clinton’s behavior was “permissible under the department’s policy at the time.” (Politico, 8/20/2015)
Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server. In August 2015, the Senate Homeland Security Committee asked PRN for a staff-level briefing on the server, and got one later that month.
In early September 2015, Congressional investigators communicate with Ken Eichner, a lawyer working for PRN, asking to interview five employees in Denver, Colorado, where PRN is located. But on September 17, 2015, Eichner writes in an email, “I am going to respectfully decline [permission for] any interviews.”
In September 2015, some PRN employees are interviewed by the FBI, but details of that remain unknown. In November 2015, it will be reported that PRN isn’t cooperating with Congressional investigators at all, and isn’t allowing Datto, Inc., a company it subcontracted to help back up Clinton’s server, to cooperate either. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
Platte River Network (PRN) is the company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. In November 2015, Politico will report that the FBI interviewed some PRN employees in September 2015. This will be confirmed by PRN spokesperson Andy Boian. The same month, PRN turns down a request for the Senate Homeland Security Committee to interview five of its employees.
It isn’t known how many employees are interviewed by the FBI or who they are. The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report released in September 2016 will make no mention of any PRN interviews in 2015 at all (though there could be mentions that are redacted).
However, it will later be revealed that PRN only had two employees doing the work on the Clinton server, and one of them was Paul Combetta, so it seems likely he would be interviewed. But the FBI report will say that Combetta was only interviewed twice, both times in 2016. It will later be revealed that Combetta was the person who deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails from her server. (Politico, 11/13/2015)
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)
The Daily Beast reports on Clinton’s email scandal, “There’s a widely held belief among American counterspies that foreign intelligence agencies had to be reading the emails on Hillary’s private server, particularly since it was wholly unencrypted for months. ‘I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this,’ explained one veteran Department of Defense counterintelligence official, adding: ‘I’d hate to be the guy in Moscow or Beijing right now who had to explain why they didn’t have all of Hillary’s email.’ Given the widespread hacking that has plagued the State Department, the Pentagon, and even the White House during Obama’s presidency, senior counterintelligence officials are assuming the worst about what the Russians and Chinese know.”
An unnamed senior official who is “close to the investigation” says, “Of course they knew what they were doing, it’s as clear as day from the emails. I’m a Democrat and this makes me sick. They were fully aware of what they were up to, and the Bureau knows it.” (The Daily Beast, 9/2/2015)
Longtime Clinton advisor Neera Tanden emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The subject heading is “Re: This Bryan Pagliano situation.” Most of their email exchange appears to be about other matters, but Tanden makes the comment, “Bryan was the one who retrieved all our emails for Maura to read. Maybe that is why he’s avoiding testifying.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)
This email comes one day after it is first reported that Pagliano is going to plead the Fifth before a Congressional committee that wants to question him about his role managing Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state. (The New York Times, 9/5/2015)
It is not clear who “Maura” is. However, the only Maura in Clinton’s inner circle at the time is Maura Pally. She was deputy counsel on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2013, she began working for the Clinton Foundation. She was the interim CEO of the foundation from January until April 2015, and she has been vice president of programs at the foundation since then. (Politico, 5/30/2013) (Politico, 4/27/2015)
The FBI’s summary of Pagliano’s December 2015 interview will make no mention of anything like this. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)
Perhaps that is because the email will not be publicly known until it is released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
Clinton’s former private server manager Bryan Pagliano invokes his Fifth Amendment rights and refuses to speak in a private meeting before the House Benghazi Committee. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/2015) His unwillingness to cooperate was first reported on September 2, 2015. (The New York Times, 9/2/2015)
Pagliano begins secretly cooperating with the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails in the fall of 2015, though it’s not clear if it is before or after this meeting. He describes how he set up the private server in Clinton’s house and gives the FBI the server’s security logs. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)
The New York Times reports, “In an unusual move, the FBI’s inquiry is being led out of its headquarters in Washington, blocks from the White House. Nearly all investigations are assigned to one of the bureau’s 56 field offices. But given this inquiry’s importance, senior FBI officials have opted to keep it closely held in Washington in the agency’s counterintelligence section, which investigates how national security secrets are handled.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)
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)
According to Bloomberg News, the FBI has been able to recover at least some of the 31,830 emails deleted by Clinton. The exact number of recovered emails is still unknown. Clinton claimed she deleted those emails, which make up slightly more than half of all her emails from her time as secretary of state, because they were personal in nature.
Bloomberg News reports that, “Once the emails have been extracted, a group of agents has been separating personal correspondence and passing along work-related messages to agents leading the investigation, the person said.” This clearly indicates that not all of the deleted emails were personal in nature, as Clinton has claimed. Clinton’s spokesperson does not address the discrepancy, except to say that Clinton continues to cooperate with investigators. (Bloomberg News, 9/2/2015)
The same day, the New York Times also reports that deleted emails have been recovered. According to two unnamed government officials, “It was not clear whether the entire trove of roughly 60,000 emails had been found on the server, but one official said it had not been very hard for the FBI to recover the messages.” (The New York Times, 9/23/2015)
Chris Soghoian, the lead technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), comments, “Clinton’s private email server was secure. Clinton’s people didn’t know how to delete her old emails. These two things can’t both be true.” (Business Insider, 9/23/2015)
A September 2016 FBI report will reveal that the FBI was able to recover about 17,500 of Clinton’s deleted emails. However, a computer program was used to wipe parts of Clinton’s server, preventing the recovery of the rest. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
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)
Platte River Networks (PRN) has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013, and since that time they used the service of another company, Datto, Inc., to make back-ups of the data on the server. As a result, they need PRN’s permission to share data.
On this day, David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer, and PRN agree to allow Datto to turn over the data from the backup server to the FBI. This is according to an unname person familiar with Datto’s storage, quoted in McClatchy Newspapers four days later.
Datto says in a statement that “with the consent of our client and their end user, and consistent with our policies regarding data privacy, Datto is working with the FBI to provide data in conjunction with its investigation.”
However, according to McClatchy Newspapers, the unnamed source says “that Platte River had set up a 60-day retention policy for the backup server, meaning that any emails to which incremental changes were made at least 60 days prior would be deleted and ‘gone forever.’ While the server wouldn’t have been ‘wiped clean,’ the source said, any underlying data likely would have been written over and would be difficult to recover.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)
It appears that the FBI does get data from Datto over the next couple of weeks, because an October 23, 2015 letter from Datto to the FBI will refer to some Datto back-up data that is now in the FBI’s possession. (US Congress, 9/12/2016)
A Datto back-up device was attached to the server, and the data was backed up to the “cloud” as well. It is unknown if the FBI ever gets useful data from the cloud copy.
Although the mainstream media in 2015 generally mentions only one Clinton email server, there actually are two in existence at this time. Both are located at an Equinix data center in Secaucus, New Jersey, and both are managed by Platte River Networks (PRN).
Clinton’s emails and other data had been transferred from the old server (which the FBI will later call the “Pagliano Server”) to the new server (which the FBI will call the “PRN Server”) in late June 2013, leaving the old server mostly empty but still running. On August 12, 2015, the FBI only picked up the old server for analysis.
A September 2016 FBI report will explain, “At the time of the FBI’s acquisition of the Pagliano Server, Williams & Connolly [the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall] did not advise the US government of the existence of the additional equipment associated with the Pagliano Server, or that Clinton’s clintonemail.com emails had been migrated to the successor PRN Server remaining at Equinix. The FBI’s subsequent investigation identified this additional equipment and revealed the email migration.”
The report will continue, “As a result, on October 3, 2015, the FBI obtained, via consent provided by Clinton through Williams & Connolly, both the remaining Pagliano Server equipment and the PRN Server, which had remained operational and was hosting Clinton’s personal email account until it was disconnected and produced to the FBI.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
According to the Free Beacon, the servers were located at the department’s headquarters building in Washington, DC, and were maintained by the department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management. It is claimed they were taken by the FBI “several weeks ago.”
According to two unnamed people familiar with the investigation, the servers are being analyzed by technical forensic analysts who are trying to determine how “top secret” information was sent to Clinton’s private email account by her aides. Spokespeople for the FBI, State Department, and Clinton’s campaign refuse to comment about the matter. (The Free Beacon, 10/7/2015)
In a 60 Minutes interview, he goes on to say, “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” He adds that, “We don’t get an impression that there was purposely efforts […] to hide something or to squirrel away information,”
However, several days later a White House spokesperson says Obama will wait for the Justice Department investigation’s determination about that. Politico will later comment, “Agents and retired FBI personnel told journalists the comments were inappropriate given the fact that the FBI inquiry was ongoing.” (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015) (CNN, 10/13/2015) (Politico, 3/9/2016)
Obama asserted that while Clinton’s use of a private email server was a “mistake,” he doesn’t “think it posed a national security problem.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest says that Obama’s comments were made “based on what we publicly know now.” Earnest adds that those comments “certainly [were] not an attempt, in any way, to undermine the importance or independence of the ongoing FBI investigation.” (CNN, 10/13/2015)
Despite the backtracking, Obama will make very similar comments in April 2016. (MSNBC, 4/10/2016)
Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom is interviewed by Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly about President Obama’s comments on October 8, 2015 regarding the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. He says, “I know some of the agents, Megyn. I know some of the supervisors and I know the senior staff. And they’re P.O.ed [pissed off], I mean, no question. This is like someone driving a nail, another nail into the coffin of the criminal justice system and what the public thinks about it.”
He adds that he doesn’t think the FBI investigators will allow Obama’s comments to affect them. And he concludes, “[I]f it’s a big case and it’s pushed under the rug, they won’t take that sitting down.” (Fox News, 10/16/2015)
On this day, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, gives two BlackBerrys to the FBI and indicates they might contain or have previously contained emails from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. But FBI forensic analysis will find no evidence that either BlackBerry were ever connected to one of Clinton’s personal servers or contained any of her emails. The two BlackBerrys don’t even contain SIM cards or Secure Digital (SD) cards.
The FBI determines that Clinton used 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state, and two more using the same phone number, but these two BlackBerrys are not any of those. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The New York Times reports that although the White House backtracked later, “Those statements angered FBI agents who have been working for months to determine whether Mrs. Clinton’s email setup did in fact put any of the nation’s secrets at risk, according to current and former law enforcement officials. Investigators have not reached any conclusions about whether the information on the server was compromised or whether to recommend charges, according to the law enforcement officials. But to investigators, it sounded as if Mr. Obama had already decided the answers to their questions and cleared anyone involved of wrongdoing.”
Ron Hosko, who was a senior FBI official until he retired in 2014, says, “Injecting politics into what is supposed to be a fact-finding inquiry leaves a foul taste in the FBI’s mouth and makes them fear that no matter what they find, the Justice Department will take the president’s signal and not bring a case.” (The New York Times, 10/16/2015)
An unnamed upset FBI agent at the Washington Field Office, where the investigation is based, says, “We got the message. […] Obama’s not subtle sometimes.” (The New York Observer, 10/19/2015)
During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks Clinton questions about how her emails from her tenure as secretary of state were sorted and some of them deleted in late 2014. He asks, “You have stated that you used a multi-step process to determine which ones were private, which ones were public, which ones belonged to you and your family, which ones belonged to the taxpayer. Who oversaw this multi-step process in making that determination which ones we might get and which ones that were personal?”
Clinton replies, “That was overseen by my attorneys and they conducted a rigorous review of my emails…”
Jordan visually identifies the three lawyers who were known to be involved in the sorting process — David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson — because they are sitting right behind Clinton in the hearing, and Clinton confirms those are the ones. He then asks Clinton what she means by “rigorous.”
Clinton explains, “It means that they were asked to provide anything that could be possibly construed as work related. In fact, in my opinion — and that’s been confirmed by both the State Department…”
Jordan interrupts, “But I’m asking how — I’m asking how it was done. Was — did someone physically look at the 62,000 emails, or did you use search terms, date parameters? I want to know the specifics.”
Clinton responds, “They did all of that, and I did not look over their shoulders, because I thought it would be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.”
Then Jordan asks, “Will you provide this committee — or can you answer today — what were the search terms?”
Clinton answers, “The search terms were everything you could imagine that might be related to anything, but they also went through every single email.”
When asked for more specifics, she says, “I asked my attorneys to oversee the process. I did not look over their shoulder. I did not dictate how they would do it. I did not ask what they were doing and how they made their determinations.”
After more questioning, Clinton refuses to mention any of the search terms.
Additionally, when asked if there were in fact two servers, she says there was just one.
She also says, “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”
Jordan concludes his questioning by asking, “If the FBI finds some of these emails that might be deleted, as they’re reviewing your server, will you agree to allow a neutral third party — like a retired federal judge — to review any emails deleted to determine if any of them are relevant to our investigation?”
She dodges giving an answer, despite being further pressed on the issue. (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)
On July 7, 2016, after concluding the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails, FBI Director James Comey will be questioned under oath by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?”
Comey will reply, “No.”
Gowdy will also ask, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”
Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”
Gowdy then will ask if it’s true she never sent or received information marked classified on her private email.
Comey will reply, “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.”
Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will ask Comey if the FBI has investigated the truthfulness of Clinton’s testimony under oath. After Comey says that would require a referral from Congress, Chaffetz will promise to get him one right away. (Politico, 7/7/2016)
In a Congressional hearing, he says, “The FBI is working on a referral given to us by inspectors general in connection with former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server. As you also know about the FBI, we don’t talk about our investigations while we are doing them. This is one I am following very closely and get briefed on regularly. I’m confident we have the people and resources to do it in the way I believe we do all our work, which is promptly, professionally and independently.” (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)
During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks her about her private email server or servers. “[T]here was one server on your property in New York, and a second server hosted by a Colorado company in — housed in New Jersey. Is that right? There were two servers?”
Clinton replies, “No. … There was a… there was a server…”
“Just one?” Jordan presses.
Clinton continues, “…that was already being used by my husband’s [Bill Clinton’s] team. An existing system in our home that I used. And then later, again, my husband’s office decided that they wanted to change their arrangements, and that’s when they contracted with the company in Colorado,” Platte River Networks.
Jordan asks, “And so there’s only one server? Is that what you’re telling me? And it’s the one server that the FBI has?”
Clinton answers, “The FBI has the server that was used during the tenure of my State Department service.”
She dodges giving an answer, despite being further pressed on the issue. (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)
However, in a public speech on July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will reveal that Clinton “used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways… (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)
Two days later, Comey will be questioned under oath in a Congressional hearing by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”
Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”
Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will promise to give the FBI a referral from Congress so the FBI can investigate the truthfulness of this and other comments Clinton made under oath. (Politico, 7/7/2016)