October 23, 2015: A computer company tells the FBI that its back-up copy of Clinton’s private server data was deleted in late March 2015.

Steven Cash (Credit: LinkedIn)

Steven Cash (Credit: LinkedIn)

Steven Cash is a lawyer for Datto, Inc., the company that has been backing up the data on Clinton’s private server. They have been subcontracted to do this by Platte River Networks (PRN), the company managing the server. Cash emails an unnamed FBI agent, informing him of several issues to be aware of prior to a conference call planned for later that day.

A Datto hard drive, the Datto SIRIS S2000, has been attached to Clinton’s server since June 2013. Cash says that Datto technical experts have reviewed administrative files and discovered through the device’s Internet interface that a series of deletions took place on the device on March 31, 2015, between 11:27 a.m. and 12:41 a.m. The data had a date range from January 28, 2015 to March 24, 2015.

Furthermore, a much greater amount of data had been “deleted automatically based on the local device’s then-configured pruning parameters.” Cash writes that “These manual requests were requested from the Local Device’s web interface for the [redacted] agent…” (US Congress, 9/12/2016) While it is possible a person’s is in the redacted space, it could also be something such as “PRN employee.”

In a May 2016 FBI interview, PRN employee Paul Combetta will confess to deleting all of Clinton’s emails on her server as well as the Datto back-up device in precisely this time period, between March 25, 2015 and March 31, 2015. It is not known if the FBI knew of the deletions prior to this letter from Datto. However, the letter certainly makes it clear, but this will not become public knowledge until an FBI report released in September 2016, almost one year later.

October 27, 2015: A top Clinton aide private calls James Comey a “bad choice” for FBI director.

Eric Schultz (Credit: Getty Images)

Eric Schultz (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri sends an email to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta and White House spokesperson Eric Schultz. In it, she forwards a link to a new New York Times article in which FBI Director James Comey suggests that crime could be rising nationwide because police officers are becoming less aggressive due to the “Ferguson effect,” anti-police sentiment following unrest earlier that year in Ferguson, Missouri. Comey’s claim is highly controversial.

Palmieri then comments, “Get a big fat ‘I told you so’ on Comey being a bad choice.”

There is no apparent reply from either Podesta or Schultz.

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016. (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

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 10, 2015: The FBI’s inquiry into Clinton’s emails has turned into a “full-blown investigation.”

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Tom Fuentes (Credit: CNN)

Politico reports, “The FBI’s recent moves [regarding Clinton’s private emails] suggest that its inquiry could have evolved from the preliminary fact-finding stage that the agency launches when it receives a credible referral, according to former FBI and Justice Department officials interviewed…” The FBI has been conducting interviews and gathering documents.

Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, says, “This sounds to me like it’s more than a preliminary inquiry; it sounds like a full-blown investigation. When you have this amount of resources going into it… I think it’s at the investigative level.” (Politico, 11/10/2015)

November 13, 2015: The computer companies that worked on Clinton’s private server refuse interview and document requests from Congressional investigators.

The Platte River Networks Logo (Credit: PRN)

The Platte River Networks Logo (Credit: PRN)

Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company that has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013. Politico reports that it has declined requests by the Senate Homeland Security Committee to interview five employees about the security of Clinton’s server.

The Datto Logo (Credit: Datto)

The Datto Logo (Credit: Datto)

Additionally, Datto, Inc. was employed by PRN to back up data from the server. On October 6, 2015, McClatchy Newspapers quoted Datto’s attorney who said the company had permission from representatives of Clinton and Platte River to cooperate with the FBI investigation. But on October 19, 2015, Datto told the committee that it can’t answer questions from the committee because it has a confidentiality agreement with its client PRN and can only answer questions about that account with their permission. PRN gave permission initially but then changed its mind.

PRN spokesperson Andy Boian says that the interview requests from Congress weren’t “formal” inquiries, even though request letters were delivered on official Senate letterhead. He adds, “We as a company have felt like we have done everything we can to comply with every request by both the FBI and the Homeland Security Committee, and we really have nothing left to give.”

The Infograte Logo (Credit: Infograte)

The Infograte Logo (Credit: Infograte)

Tania Neild, CEO of the technology broker company InfoGrate, helped Clinton select PRN to run their server. She declined to be interviewed by Congressional investigators, invoking a nondisclosure agreement she had with her client.

The SECNAP Logo (Credit: SECNAP)

The SECNAP Logo (Credit: SECNAP)

Another computer company, SECNAP, was involved in the security of the server. They apparently aren’t cooperating with Republican investigators either, because Dennis Nowak, a lawyer for SECNAP, says that communications technology companies are governed by a law that imposes criminal and civil penalties for disclosing customer information, and that can only be waived by subpoena, search warrant, court order, or consent of the client.

These four companies apparently have fully cooperated with the FBI. But Politico reports, “While the firms have voluntarily produced some information for Congressional Republicans in the past, now it seems they’re not willing to go beyond their legal obligations when it comes to responding to committee inquiries.”

In September 2015, Clinton publicly said regarding the FBI’s Clinton investigation that she “would very much urge anybody who is asked to cooperate to do so.” However, Politico asked the Clinton campaign if it had encouraged these computer companies to cooperate with Congressional investigators, and the campaign had no comment. (Politico, 11/13/2015)

These companies will continue to refuse to cooperate with Congress. In August 2016, Congressional Republicans will issue subpoenas to PRN, Datto, and SECNAP to finally force their cooperation.

November 17, 2015: The Clinton Foundation is accused of being a money laundering front to benefit the Clintons.

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Ken Silverstein (Credit; Tribute Magazine)

Longtime investigative journalist Ken Silverstein writes an expose about the foundation for Harper’s Magazine. He asserts: “If the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies do their jobs, the foundation will be closed and its current and past trustees, who include Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton, will be indicted. That’s because their so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich Clinton family friends.”

As one example, Silverstein notes that the Clinton Foundation has received more than $1 billion to purchase HIV/AIDS drugs for poor people around the world. “However, a unit set up to receive the money…clearly spent far, far less than it took in. In fact, the unit’s accounting practices were so shoddy that its license was revoked by the state of Massachusetts, where it was headquartered.”

An unnamed “money-laundering expert and former intelligence officer based in the Middle East who had access to the foundation’s confidential banking information” claims that all investigators would have to do “is match up Hillary’s travel as secretary of state with Bill’s speaking arrangements. Bill heads out to foreign countries and he gets paid huge amounts of money for a thirty-minute speech and then she heads out for an official visit as a favor. She racked up more miles than any secretary of state [other than Condoleezza Rice] and that’s one of the reasons why. How can they get away with that?” The Clinton Foundation has not commented on the allegations. (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015)

December 2015: The FBI warns the DNC (Democratic National Committee) that it is a target of a hacker attack.

According to a July 2016 Yahoo News article, the FBI contacts the DNC in late 2015 and tells their IT (information technology) staffers that there has been a hacking attack on the DNC’s computer network. The FBI provides no details, such as who the hackers might be.

It will later be discovered that a hacker broke into the DNC network in the summer of 2015. Despite the FBI warning, the hacker won’t be ejected from the network until around June 2016. (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)

December 9, 2015: President Obama is not being briefed about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Senator Jeff Cornyn (Credit: US Congress)

Senator Jeff Cornyn (Credit: US Congress)

Speaking to FBI Director James Comey in a Congressional meeting, Senator Jeff Cornyn (R) expresses his concern about political pressure that could be put on the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails and server. Cornyn then asks, “Does the President get briefings on ongoing investigations by the FBI like this?”

Comey replies, “No.”

Then Cornyn asks, “So he would have no way of knowing what the status of the FBI investigation is?”

Comey replies, “Certainly not from briefings from the FBI.” (The Daily Caller, 12/9/2015)

December 11, 2015: Emails from Clinton’s computer technician are missing.

The State Department has told Senate investigators that it cannot find the emails of Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton aide who managed her private server. Department officials found a “.pst file” which contains back-up copies of Pagliano’s emails from the time period after Clinton was secretary of state, but his .pst file for Clinton’s time as secretary of state is missing. But it is also revealed that the FBI has taken possession of Pagliano’s government computer, and it is hoped that some of all of the emails will be found there. Senate investigators want the email to help determine if Pagliano should be offered immunity in return for testimony. (Politico, 12/11/2015) 

However, it will later emerge that Pagliano was given immunity by the FBI some months earlier. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)

December 22, 2015: Pagliano is secretly interviewed as part of an immunity deal with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano makes a “derivative use” immunity deal with the Justice Department by this time, though it’s not clear exactly when this happens. Then he gives testimony to the FBI and the Justice Department as part of the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Apparently he speaks to investigators at least twice, though it is not known when the second interview takes place. “Derivative use” immunity wouldn’t prevent investigators from prosecuting Pagliano, but limits them from using any evidence derived from his testimony against him.

The media will first report on the immunity deal in March 2016, and more details will be made public in a court filing in June 2016. (LawNewz, 6/7/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

 

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 11, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could be looking into Clinton Foundation corruption.

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: Washington Examiner)

Fortune 100 companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation and lobbied the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary. (Credit: opensecrets.org)

Fox News reports, “The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state has expanded to look at whether the possible ‘intersection’ of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws,” according to three unnamed “intelligence sources.”

One source says, “The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts, and whether regular processes were followed.”

Clinton denies this, saying, “No, there’s nothing like that that is happening.”

However, Fox News points out, “Experts including a former senior FBI agent said the Bureau does not have to notify the subject of an investigation.” (Fox News, 1/11/2016) 

One month later, the Washington Post will report that the State Department issued a subpoena to the Clinton Foundation in late 2015. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)

In October 2016, the Wall Street Journal will confirm the existence of an FBI Clinton Foundation investigation, which has been on-going since 2015.

January 25, 2016: Tom DeLay says, “I have friends that are in the FBI, and they tell me…they’re ready to recommend an indictment.”

Tom Delay (Credit: public domain)

Tom Delay (Credit: public domain)

He adds, “And they also say that if the attorney general does not indict, they’re going public. So one way or another, either she’s gonna be indicted, and that process begins, or we try her in the public eye with her campaign.”

DeLay is a Republican and was the former House Majority Leader. He was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in 2010, but that conviction was later overturned. (The New York Daily News, 1/26/2016)

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 28, 2016: A decision on indictments could come during the presidential general election campaign.

Ron Hosko (Credit: public domain)

Ron Hosko (Credit: public domain)

Former FBI officials say the length of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email and server is not unusual. Ron Hosko, the FBI’s former assistant director of the criminal investigative division, says, “I don’t know that there’s any magical cutoff date.” However, he adds, “I think the clock ticks louder every day. I’m sure they’re all incredibly sensitive to it.”

Political science professor Andrew Smith says, “It does give pause to Democrats who are concerned that there may be another shoe to drop down the road.” (The Hill, 1/28/2016)

January 28, 2016: Clinton’s top aides could be in greater legal jeopardy than Clinton.

Bradley Moss (Credit: Twitter)

Bradley Moss (Credit: Twitter)

Bradley Moss, a lawyer who specializes in national security and protection of classified information, speculates about who will be targeted by the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails and server.

He suggests Clinton is less in danger that her aides, since most of the retroactively classified emails were written by her aides. “It’d be a lot harder to make a criminal charge for having received [classified] information. If I’m in Clinton’s campaign, I’m more worried if am Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, or Jake Sullivan than if I’m Hillary Clinton. […] The sloppiness and the complete fundamental failure to comply with any aspect of operational and informational security is what puts them at risk. You just can’t do that that many times and not expect to find yourself in trouble.” (The Hill, 1/28/2016)

January 29, 2016: FBI agents are saying “something’s happening” with their Clinton investigation.

Mika Brzezinski (left) Joe Scarborough (right) (Credit: public domain)

Mika Brzezinski (left) Joe Scarborough (right) (Credit: public domain)

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” comments, “[T]he Hillary Clinton investigation of the FBI is far more progressed and [my co-host] Mika [Brzezinski] and I have been hearing it from the top officials in the Obama administration for actually several months now. And we can’t go to a meeting in Washington where we don’t hear that. […] All of our sources high up are telling us the same thing: that this investigation is far more advanced than we the public knows. What are you hearing?”

Mark Halperin, a political analyst at Bloomberg News, comments, “There’s a lot of chatter amongst FBI agents, many of whom have never been big fans of the Clintons, but a lot of FBI agents seem to be saying something is happening here. … [And] there are some people in the White House are starting to talk about this. It’s not clear whether they know what’s happening or it’s just their intuition but the body language among some Obama administration officials is, this is more serious and something is going to happen.” (MSNBC, 1/29/2016)

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)

Before February 2016: A suspicious bank transaction draws the attention of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.

In November 2016, CNN will report that in the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation, “at least one FBI field office also received notification of a possible suspicious bank transaction. The transaction involving a Clinton Foundation donor was flagged in what is known as a suspicious activity report, routine notices sent through the Treasury Department’s financial enforcement arm.”

The timing of this incident is not clear. But the CNN article will mention it prior to describing a pivotal meeting between the FBI and Justice Department in February 2016. (CNN, 11/2/2016)

February 2016: The Justice Department declines to give the FBI Clinton Foundation investigation the legal authority for more investigative powers, but the investigation continues anyway.

In the summer of 2015the FBI begins investigating the Clinton Foundation. By early 2016, four FBI field offices (New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Arkansas) have been pursuing information about the foundation.

In February 2016, FBI officials make a presentation to the Justice Department, apparently trying to get more legal authority, such as subpoena power, which can only come from the Justice Department agreeing to empanel a grand jury. The FBI had gained evidence from at least two informants who came up in other investigations and were critical of the foundation. It also may have learned of a suspicious bank transaction by this time.

Assistant Attorney General, Leslie Caldwell (Credit: Jason Doiy)

Assistant Attorney General, Leslie Caldwell (Credit: Jason Doiy)

The meeting is held in Washington, DC, and is attended by FBI officials, prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section, and Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Robert Capers, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will later play a key role in the conflict between the FBI and Justice Department, but neither he nor prosecutors from his office attend. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

The Wall Street Journal will report on this in October 2016: “By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well. Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anti-corruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy, and dismissive of the case. ‘That was one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,’ one participant told others afterward, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The Journal will add, “Anti-corruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand jury activity. But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.”

As a result, the FBI foundation investigation(s) will continue, but without subpoena power and other common investigative powers. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

Not long after the meeting, the Justice Department will allegedly send a message for all offices to “stand down,” but that won’t stop the investigation either.

After February 2016: Justice Department officials allegedly tell FBI agents investigating the Clinton Foundation to “stand down,” to no effect.

The Wall Street Journal Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Wall Street Journal Logo (Credit: public domain)

In February 2016, there is a key meeting between the FBI and Justice Department to determine the fate and direction of the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation. The FBI wanted more investigative power to intensify their investigation, but the Justice Department refused to give it, claiming their case is weak.

The Wall Street Journal will later report that after this meeting, “Justice Department officials became increasingly frustrated that the [FBI] agents seemed to be disregarding or disobeying their instructions. Following the February meeting, officials at Justice Department headquarters sent a message to all the offices involved to ‘stand down,’ a person familiar with the matter said.”

The Journal will explain that this means to “proceed more overtly” and “act discreetly,” due to the sensitivities of conducting an investigation into the foundation closely linked to Hillary Clinton, who is a major Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election, while the election is in full swing.

However, the investigation will continue as before, though still without the additional powers only the Justice Department can grant. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

February 2016—Early November 2016: It is alleged that a US attorney has increased tensions between the FBI and Justice Department over the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation.

On November 2, 2016, the Wall Street Journal will report, “Starting in February [2016] and continuing today, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and public-corruption prosecutors [at the Justice Department] became increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments. At the center of the tension stood [the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York], Robert Capers, who some at the FBI came to view as exacerbating the problems by telling each side what it wanted to hear…”

Robert Capers (Credit: public domain)

Robert Capers (Credit: public domain)

In February 2016, there is a key meeting in which FBI investigators presented their evidence to Justice Department officials, hoping to be granted additional powers so they could conduct a more vigorous investigation. But the department officials turned them down, claiming that their case was weak.

The stances in the FBI and Justice Department would essentially remain unchanged through late October 2016, when the conflict would erupt into public view due to a series of leaks.

The Journal will report, “At times, people on both sides of the dispute thought Mr. Capers agreed with them. Defenders of Mr. Capers said he was straightforward and always told people he thought the case wasn’t strong. … In subsequent conversations with the Justice Department, Mr. Capers told officials in Washington that the FBI agents on the case ‘won’t let it go…'”

However, Capers is not the only official singled out for blame in public leaks. The Journal will also report that “some have blamed the FBI’s No. 2 official, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” McCabe has been criticized for a conflict of interest that could make him biased in favor of the foundation, but he has refused to recuse himself from the foundation investigation.

In August 2016, the FBI and Justice Department agree to delay major decisions in the investigation until after the presidential election on November 8, 2016. However, multiple leaks to the media show that tensions remain high in the conflict. (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

February 1, 2016: Clinton comments on recent news reports suggesting the FBI’s Clinton investigation is gaining momentum.

She says, “It means the people are selectively leaking and making comments with no basis. We need to let this inquiry run its course, get it resolved.” She adds, “There is nothing new and I think the facts are quite helpful here, it’s a little bit like what the Republicans and others have tried to do with respect to Benghazi.” (Politico, 2/1/2016)

February 1, 2016: Some US intelligence officials are “mad as hell” about Clinton’s deleted emails.

An unnamed Pentagon counterintelligence official expresses concern that some of the 30,840 emails Clinton deleted may have been work-related. “I’ll spend the rest of my career trying to figure out what classified information was in those. […] Everybody is mad as hell right now.” This official adds, “The worst part is that Moscow and Beijing have that information but the [US] Intelligence Community maybe never will.” (The New York Observer, 2/1/2016)

February 2, 2016: The FBI won’t reveal the scope of their Clinton investigation.

James A. Baker (Credit: public domain

James A. Baker (Credit: public domain

In an official letter to a State Department official, FBI lawyer James A. Baker writes, the FBI “has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The FBI has not, however, publicly acknowledged the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such proceedings.” He says that to reveal more would endanger an on-going investigation. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2/2/2016) (The Hill, 2/8/2016)

February 3, 2016: A State Department official claims someone tried to hack her private email account two years earlier, in early 2014.

Wendy Sherman (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Wendy Sherman (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Wendy Sherman is interviewed by the FBI. Sherman served as deputy secretary of state under Clinton (the third highest ranking post), and as under secretary of state for political affairs. Her name will later be redacted in the FBI summary of the interview, but the Daily Caller will identify the interviewee as Sherman due to details mentioned elsewhere in the interview.

Sherman served as chief negotiator on a nuclear deal between the US and Iran, which was agreed to in 2014. In the FBI summary of her interview, she said that she was not aware of any specific instances where she was notified of a potential hack of her State Department or personal email accounts or those of other department employees. However, she “explained [she] was sure people tried to hack into [her] personal email account and the accounts of [redacted] team approximately two years ago during [redacted] in the Iran negotiations. Specifically, [redacted] received a similar email. [She] reported the incident to [State Department] Diplomatic Security who reportedly traced the emails back to a [redacted].”

Elsewhere in the interview, she said that it “was not uncommon for [her] to have to use [her] personal Gmail account to communicate while on travel, because there were often times [she] could not access her [State Department] unclassified account.”

The Daily Caller will later comment, “While it is no surprise that hackers would attempt to infiltrate the negotiating teams’ email accounts — the US government has robust spy operations that try to do the same thing — Sherman’s use of a personal account while overseas likely increased her chances of being hacked.” (The Daily Caller, 9/24/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/23/2016)

February 4, 2016: Clinton still holds a security clearance despite her mishandling of “top secret” information.

Bloomberg News reports that there is a debate in high-level political circles over whether Clinton should be allowed to keep her security clearance or not during the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Predictably, Democrats say she should while Republicans say she shouldn’t. It was reported in late January 2016 that 22 emails on her unapproved private server contained “top secret” and even above “top secret” information. (Bloomberg News, 2/4/2016) 

In October 2015, the State Department reportedly confirmed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R) that Clinton still holds a security clearance for TS/SCI [Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information] the highest-level security clearance, and apparently nothing has changed since then. It is standard practice for high-ranking officials to retain their clearances after leaving office. (The Free Beacon, 10/7/2015)

February 9, 2016—February 22, 2016: The FBI is unable to obtain any of Clinton’s BlackBerrys to examine them; two useful Clinton iPads are found, but they only contain three previously unknown emails.

The FBI’s Clinton email investigation determines that Clinton used 11 BlackBerrys while she was secretary of state, and two more using the same phone number after she left office. On February 9, 2016, the Justice Department requests all 13 BlackBerrys from Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall.

Williams & Connolly replies on February 22, 2016 that they were unable to locate any of them. As a result, the FBI is unable to acquire or forensically examine any of Clinton’s BlackBerrys.

The FBI also identifies five iPads associated with Clinton which she could have used to send emails. The FBI obtains three of them, though it’s not clear if they come from Williams & Connolly or other sources. One iPad was given away by Clinton shortly after she bought it, so it is not examined by the FBI.

Out of the other two, one contains three previously unknown Clinton emails from 2012 in the “drafts”” folder. The FBI assesses the three emails and determines they don’t contain any potentially classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 10, 2016: As many as 30 different people were included in the 22 known “top secret” messages sent to Clinton.

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

An unnamed US official claims that top Clinton aides including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Philippe Reines, Jake Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy were CCed on at least some of those emails. (The Hill, 2/10/2016) 

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top national security and foreign policy staffer, sent 215 classified emails to Clinton, more than anyone else. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016He is said to be the author of at least one of the emails sent to Clinton that was later deemed “top secret,” and he may be responsible for others.

Politico reports, “Sullivan both initiated email conversations and also forwarded along messages with sensitive information, and he sometimes added additional content on the email chains in question, according to [our] sources.” As a result, Sullivan could face extra scrutiny from FBI investigators.

Another source says about three of Clinton’s top aides sent her highly classified material. (Politico, 2/10/2016)

February 18, 2016 and May 3, 2016: A Platte River Networks employee is interviewed twice by the FBI and gives contradictory answers.

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Platte River Networks (PRN) is the computer company managing Clinton’s private server from June 2013 until at least October 2015, and PRN employee Paul Combetta played a pivotal role in the deletion of Clinton’s emails from her server.

On February 18, 2016, Combetta is interviewed by the FBI for the first time. He says that between March 25 and 31, 2015, he realized he failed to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account on her server, as Clinton’s lawyer (and former chief of staff) Cheryl Mills told him to do in December 2014. This would result in the deletion of some of her emails after 60 days. However, he claims that despite this realization, he still didn’t take any action. Additionally, on March 9, 2015, Mills sent him and other PRN employees an email which mentioned that the House Benghazi Committee had made a formal request to preserve Clinton’s emails. Combetta tells the FBI that he didn’t recall seeing the preservation request referenced in the email.

On May 3, 2016, Combetta has a follow-up FBI interview, and his answers on key issues completely contradict what he said before. This time, he says that when he realized between March 25 and 31, 2015 that he forgot to change the email retention policy on Clinton’s email account, he had an “oh shit!” moment. Then, instead of finally changing the policy settings, he entirely deleted Clinton’s email mailbox from the server,  and used the BleachBit computer program to effectively wipe the data to make sure it could never be recovered. He also deleted a Datto back-up of the data. And he did all this without consulting anyone in PRN or working for Clinton. Furthermore, he admits that he was aware of the mention in the March 9, 2015 email from Mills mentioning the Congressional request to preserve Clinton’s emails.

A September 2016 FBI report will simply note these contradictions. There will be no explanation why Combetta was not indicted for lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice, and other possible charges. There also will be no explanation why his answers changed so much in his second FBI interview, such as him possibly being presented with new evidence that contradicted what he’d said before. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 22, 2016: The FBI trusts Clinton’s account and does not check if her latest private server contains any of her old emails.

In December 2014, a hrcoffice.com domain was created on a different private server, and apparently Clinton switched to using an email account on that server around that time.

On February 22, 2016, Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, tells the FBI in a letter: “Secretary Clinton did not transfer her clintonemail.com emails for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 to her hrcoffice.com account.” This time period represents Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

The FBI apparently trusts Clinton’s lawyer. A September 2016 FBI report will state: “The investigation found no evidence Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account contained or contains potentially classified information or emails from her tenure as secretary of state. The FBI has, therefore, not requested or obtained equipment associated with Clinton’s hrcoffice.com account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 27, 2016: Jake Sullivan is interviewed by the FBI; he claims he never felt any unease about the many above top secret emails he sent to Clinton.

Clinton and Sullivan have a discussion during the Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

Clinton and Sullivan have a discussion during the House Benghazi Committee hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

When Clinton was secretary of state, Sullivan first served as her deputy chief of staff for policy and then as the director of policy planning. The interview will remain secret until it’s mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report.

The FBI determined that seven email chains containing 22 emails were sent by Sullivan to Clinton were later deemed classified at the “top secret/Special Access Program” (TP/SAP) level, which is above “top secret.”

As a result, much of the interview regards these emails. The FBI asks Sullivan to review about 14 emails he sent or received “on unclassified systems” that were later determined to contain classified information up to the TS/SAP level.

Sullivan gives some reasons why the emails may have been sent on Clinton’s unclassified server. According to the FBI, “With respect to the SAP, Sullivan stated that it was discussed on unclassified systems due to the operational tempo at that time, and State [Department] employees attempted to talk around classified information. Sullivan also indicated that, for some of the emails, information about the incidents described therein may have already appeared in news reports. … Sullivan did not recall any instances in which he felt uneasy about information conveyed on unclassified systems, nor any instances in which others expressed concerns about the handling of classified information at State.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Sullivan will also give his explanation of an email in which he wanted to send her a secure fax, but the fax machine wasn’t working and she told him to “send nonsecure.”

March 2016: The FBI warns the Clinton campaign that it is a target of a hacker attack, but the campaign doesn’t assist the FBI.

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The Clinton campaign logo superimposed over the FBI logo. (Credit: public domain)

This is according to what two unnamed “sources who have been briefed on the matter” will tell Yahoo News in July 2016. FBI officials privately meet with senior Clinton campaign officials and express concern that hackers are using “spear phishing” techniques to access the campaign’s computers. They ask the campaign to turn over internal computer logs and the personal email addresses of top campaign staffers to help the FBI’s investigation. But the campaign declines to do so after deciding the request for personal data is too broad and intrusive. The FBI doesn’t give any mention as to who the hackers might be.

One month later, the campaign will learn on its own that its computers have been hacked and they will use a private cybersecurity company to combat the hackers.

Yahoo News will comment that the FBI’s “warning also could raise new questions about why the campaign and the DNC didn’t take the matter more seriously.”

At the time, the FBI has an active investigation into Clinton’s email usage while she was secretary of state, and Clinton’s campaign isn’t sure how extensive that inquiry is. There have been media reports that the investigation extended into unethical practices at the Clinton Foundation, which could theoretically include interest in more recent communications.

Yahoo News will report that, according to an unnamed internal source, “Campaign officials had reason to fear that any production of campaign computer logs and personal email accounts could be used to further such a probe.” But the FBI insists that its request for data to combat the hacking has no connection to any other investigation, and since there is no subpoena forcing the issue, the Clinton campaign turns down the request. (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)

March 2, 2016: It is reported Clinton’s former computer technician has made an immunity deal.

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

It is reported that Bryan Pagliano, a former Clinton staffer who helped set up her private email server, has accepted an immunity deal from the FBI and the Justice Department.

In September 2015, Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee. He managed the server from 2008 until mid-2013. He actually started secretly cooperating with investigators in late 2015. The Clinton campaign claims they are “pleased” Pagliano is finally cooperating with prosecutors. (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016) 

The next day, Congressional Republicans say they want to interview Pagliano, since the deal means his Fifth Amendment pledge is no longer applicable. They also want to see the exact terms of the deal. (The Associated Press, 3/3/2016)

March 2, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is looking into retyping of classified information.

The New York Times reports that FBI agents investigating Clinton’s emails “have sought to compare electronic timestamps on classified sources to figure out whether [her] aides reviewed the sources and then retyped the information into emails that were sent or forwarded to Mrs. Clinton’s private server. That has proved challenging, and one official said investigators have not concluded that such retyping occurred.” (The New York Times, 3/2/2016)

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

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

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

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

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

Danny Cevallos (Credit: CNN)

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

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

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

March 20, 2016: The FBI allegedly is moving towards recommending an indictment of Clinton, but it is facing political pressure not to do so.

The New York Post reports, “FBI chief James Comey and his investigators are increasingly certain that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton violated laws in handling classified government information through her private email server, career agents say.”

One unnamed former official says, “You don’t start granting people close to Clinton immunity unless you are seriously looking at charges against your target.”

However, it is also believed that the Obama White House is putting pressure on Comey not to recommend charges against Clinton. The Post further reports that “some FBI staffers suggest the probe’s at a point where Comey might quit in protest if [the] Justice [Department] ignores a recommendation to pursue a criminal case against Clinton.” (The New York Post, 3/20/2016)

March 25, 2016: The FBI refuses to say much about its Clinton investigation.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News relating to Clinton’s private server, an FBI official states that while an investigation relating to the server is on-going, “the FBI has not and cannot publicly acknowledge the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such investigation.” (Vice News, 3/26/2016)

March 27, 2016: Federal investigators have begun setting up formal interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides.

James McJunkin (Credit: Ebru News)

James McJunkin (Credit: Ebru News)

This is according to the Los Angeles Times, which also reports that they are also expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself. The timing is clear, and could still take weeks. But the Times reports that development is “an indication that much of the investigators’ background work—recovering deleted emails, understanding how the server operated and determining whether it was breached—is nearing completion.”

James McJunkin, former head of the FBI’s Washington field office, comments, “They are likely nearing the end of the investigation and the agents need to interview these people to put the information in context. They will then spend time aligning these statements with other information, emails, classified documents, etc., to determine whether there is a prosecutable case.”

The FBI has finished their review of the Clintons’ server and emails. They also already have interviewed a number of former aides “so they could better understand how the system was used and why Clinton chose to use it,” according to the Times. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)

March 27, 2016–March 31, 2016: Accounts differ on the number of FBI investigators.

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Credit: FBI)

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Credit: FBI)

A March 27, 2016 front-page Washington Post story claims that 147 FBI agents have been working on an investigation into Clinton’s emails. The Post soon issues a correction that states, “Two US law enforcement officials have since told the Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

On March 30, an unnamed source tells NBC News, “There are currently about 12 FBI agents working full-time on the case.” (NBC News, 3/30/2016)

On March 31, Time Magazine says, “20 to 30 agents, technical specialists and analysts have been assigned to the investigation, according to sources familiar with it.” (Time, 3/31/2016) 

One explanation of the differing numbers could be that the number of people working on the case changed over time.

On March 27, the Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI has finished their work-intensive review of Clinton’s server and emails. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016)

March 30, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation has reportedly reached a “critical stage.”

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

Reporter David Schuster says, “The FBI, led by Director James Comey, has now finished examining Clinton’s private emails and home server. And the sources add that Comey’s FBI team has been joined by the Justice Department prosecutors. Together, they are now examining the evidence, analyzing relevant laws, and attempting to arrange interviews with key figures in the investigation.

Those interviews, according to attorneys, will include former State Department aide Philippe Reines, former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton herself. Soon after those interviews—in the next few days and weeks—officials expect Director Comey to make his recommendation to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about potential criminal charges.” (Mediate, 3/30/2016)

Late March 2016: Guccifer talks to the FBI while he is extradited to the US.

The Romanian hacker Guccifer is extradited to the US at some point in late March 2016.

In early May 2016, he will claim that on the airplane ride from Romania to the US, “They came after me, a guy from the FBI, from the State Department.” Fox News will report, “A government source confirmed that the hacker had a lot to say on the plane but provided no other details.”

Guccifer will also claim that he talked about some large data files he kept in secure locations as a sort of insurance policy: “I can’t tell now. I can’t tell because I want to talk to the FBI. It is a matter of national security.” However, he seems to indicate the data is not connected to the FBI’s Clinton investigation. (Fox News, 5/7/2016) 

Guccifer has also said he’s talked to US officials since his arrest in Romania in January 2014, including with the FBI in March 2014. (LawNewz, 5/6/2016)

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

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

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

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

Around April or May 2016: The FBI warns “dozens of lawmakers” that they are being targeted by hackers.

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Former senator Tom Daschle (Credit: NY Magazine)

On July 25, 2016, the Washington Post will report that the FBI warns the “Clinton campaign and dozens of lawmakers” that they are being targeted by hackers. Later reporting by Yahoo News will indicate that the Clinton campaign is first warned by the FBI in March 2016. The timing of the warning to lawmakers is less clear, except that the Post mentions it takes place “weeks before” a media report on June 14, 2016 that hackers had broken into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network.

It still has not been proven that hack on the lawmakers have been successful. However, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D) has told the Post that his email account was hacked recently. But he hasn’t been given any indication if law enforcement is investigating or who the hacker might be. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)

 

April 5, 2016: Clinton aide Huma Abedin is interviewed by the FBI.

Karen Dunn (Credit: Twitter)

Karen Dunn (Credit: Twitter)

Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, is interviewed by FBI agents investigating the Clinton email scandal. She is questioned for about two hours at the FBI’s field office. The interview will not be reported on until early May 2016. Other Clinton aides are also interviewed, but only the interview of Cheryl Mills will also reported on before the FBI’s final report is released in September 2016.

Abedin’s lawyer Karen Dunn and the FBI have no comment. (The Los Angeles Times, 5/5/2016)

April 6, 2016: Comey says he’s staying close to the Clinton email investigation.

After a public speech, FBI Director James Comey is asked to comment about the state of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email scandal.

He responds, “I’ve stayed close to that investigation” to ensure that it’s done competently and independently. He adds that it’s important that “we have the resources, the technology, the people, and that there’s no outside influence. So, if I talk about an investigation while it’s going on, there’s a risk that I’ll compromise both the reality and the perception that it’s done honestly, competently, and independently. So, I’m going to say no comment to that.” (Politico, 4/6/2016)