March 7, 2015—Mid-July 2016: Donations to a state senate election lead to potential conflicts of interests in three FBI investigations for a high-ranking FBI official.

The Clintons stand behind Terry McAuliffe during his inauguration as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 72nd governor. (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is widely considered the best friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and was co-chair of one of Bill’s presidential campaigns and the chair of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign. In March 2016, McAuliffe says, “We’re best friends, I’ve been family friends with the Clinton’s for thirty years. It’s a great relationship, we vacationed together for years, we’re just very personal friends…” (The Valley’s Music Place, 3/31/2016)

On March 7, 2015, McAuliffe and other state Democratic Party leaders meet with Dr. Jill McCabe and persuade her to run for a state senator seat in Virginia. Dr. McCabe is a hospital physician who has never run for political office before. This has potentially larger political implications, because her husband is Andrew McCabe, an FBI official who runs the FBI’s Washington, DC, field office at the time.

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

Dr. Jill McCabe (Credit: Twitter)

FBI officials will later claim that after the March 7, 2015 meeting, Andrew McCabe seeks ethics advice from the FBI and follows it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and also avoiding any of his wife’s campaign activities or events.

Five days before Jill McCabe is asked to run, on March 2, 2015, the New York Times publicly reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address, and her use of a private email server is revealed two days later, starting a major and prolonged political controversy. Jill McCabe announces her candidacy on March 12, 2015.

On July 10, 2015, the FBI’s Clinton email investigation formally begins, although it may have informally begun earlier.

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe and Jill McCabe pose at a campaign event in 2015. (Credit: Sharyl Attkisson)

Andrew McCabe’s Washington, DC, field office provides personnel and resources to the investigation. At the end of July 2015, he is promoted to assistant deputy FBI director, the number three position in the FBI.

During the 2015 election season, McAuliffe’s political action committee (PAC) donates $467,500 to Jill McCabe’s campaign. Furthermore, the Virginia Democratic Party, ”over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control,” according to the Wall Street Journal, donates an additional $207,788 to her campaign. “That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him.”

This represents more than a third of all the campaign funds McCabe raises in the election. She is the third-largest recipient of funds from McAuliffe’s PAC that year.

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

Virginia State Senator Dick Black (Credit: Twitter)

On November 3, 2015, Jill McCabe loses the election to incumbent Republican Dick Black. Once the campaign is over, “[Andrew] McCabe and FBI officials felt the potential conflict-of-interest issues ended,” according to the Journal.

In February 2016, Andrew McCabe is promoted to deputy FBI director, the second highest position in the FBI. In this role, he is part of the executive leadership team overseeing the Clinton email investigation, though FBI officials say any final decisions are made by FBI Director James Comey.

However, that is not the only potential conflict of interest. By February 2016, four FBI field offices are conducting investigations of the Clinton Foundation. McAuliffe was a Clinton Foundation board member until he resigned when he became the governor of Virginia in 2013. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

Also, at some point in 2015, if not earlier, the FBI begins conducting an investigation of McAuliffe. When the existence of this investigation is publicly leaked in May 2016, media reports suggest it may involve McAuliffe’s financial relationship with a Chinese businessperson who has donated millions to the foundation. It is also reported that investigators have looked at McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly conference run by the Clinton Foundation.  (CNN, 5/24/2016)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Getty Images)

In the spring of 2016, Andrew McCabe agrees to recuse himself from the McAuliffe investigation, due to McAuliffe’s donations to Jill McCabe’s election campaign. However, he doesn’t recuse himself from the Clinton Foundation investigation or the Clinton email investigation, despite McAuliffe’s close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2016)

In mid-July 2016, the FBI seeks to reorganize the Clinton Foundation investigation. McCabe decides the FBI’s New York office should take the lead, while the Washington office that he formerly headed should take the lead with the McAuliffe investigation. The Journal will later report, “Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined.” However, the decision is implemented.

McCabe also is involved in an effort to shut down the foundation investigation in August 2016, but his role is unclear.

In October 2016, McCabe’s potential conflicts of interest will be revealed by two Wall Street Journal articles. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016) In early November 2016, the Journal will report that “some [in the FBI] have blamed [McCabe], claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the [Clinton Foundation] case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation.” (The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/2016)

Around that time, James Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI’s New York office, will say of McCabe, “The guy has no common sense. He should be demoted and taken out of the chain of command.” (The American Spectator, 11/1/2016)

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

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

John Giacalone (Credit: public domain)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 31, 2015: Clinton’s lawyer is asked to turn over his copies of Clinton’s emails.

A typical thumb drive, a.k.a. USB Drive (Credit: Tech Target)

A typical thumb drive, a.k.a. USB Drive (Credit: Tech Target)

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.

On August 6, 2015, Kendall gives the FBI his thumb drive, as well as two copies. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

August 2015: A company recommends improving security for Clinton’s server, which is still in use, but the FBI wants no changes.

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.

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Andy Boian (Credit: Fox News)

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.

August 2015—Spring 2016: Justin Cooper is interviewed by the FBI three times.

Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

Justin Cooper testifies to the House Oversight Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

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.

August 6, 2015: Clinton’s lawyers give the FBI a thumb drive containing over 30,000 Clinton work-related emails.

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)

August 8, 2015: Clinton writes under oath that she has provided the State Department all of her work-related emails that were on her personal email account she used while secretary of state.

Her short statement includes this sentence: “I have directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.”

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A sample of the document Clinton signed on August 8, 2015. (Credit: Politico)

That statement is a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department. Additionally, Clinton mentions in her statement that her top aide Huma Abedin also had an email account on her clintonemail.com server that “was used at times for government business,” but another top aide, Cheryl Mills, did not. (The New York Times, 8/10/2015) (Politico, 8/8/2015)

One month later, some more of Clinton’s work emails from her time as secretary of state will be discovered by the Defense Department. (The New York Times, 9/25/2015)

August 11, 2015: Clinton finally agrees to allow the Justice Department to investigate her private server, as well as thumb drives housing her work emails.

This comes after months of her refusing to hand it over. (The New York Times, 8/11/2015The 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.

August 12, 2015: The FBI picks up one of Clinton’s private email servers, as well as thumb drives containing copies of her emails.

An inside look at one Equinix’s many data centers across the United States. (Credit: Equinix)

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)

After August 12, 2015: The FBI recovers some of Clinton’s deleted emails.

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.

August 14, 2015: The FBI is trying to find out if foreign countries, especially China or Russia, broke into Clinton’s private server.

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)

August 17, 2015: The company that recently managed Clinton’s private server, says it is “highly likely” that a backup copy of the server was made.

The Datto logo (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

The Datto logo (Credit: Datto, Inc.)

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)

August 19, 2015: Someone tried to wipe Clinton’s email server, but the FBI might recover the data anyway.

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.

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

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

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

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

Early September 2015—September 17, 2015: The company that manages Clinton’s server won’t let Congressional investigators interview its employees.

Ken Eichner is rated as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Denver, CO. (Credit: public domain)

Ken Eichner (Credit: public domain)

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)

Ken Eichner has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” for more than a decade and named by 5280 Magazine as one of Colorado’s top criminal lawyers. (Super Lawyers) (5280 Magazine)

September 2015: Employees at the company managing Clinton’s server are interviewed by the FBI.

Andy Boian (Credit: public domain)

Andy Boian (Credit: public domain)

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)

September 12, 2015: The company that recently managed Clinton’s email server say they have “no knowledge of the server being wiped.”

Platte River Networks (PRN) managed her server from mid-2013 to early August 2015. PRN spokesperson Andy Boian says, “Platte River has no knowledge of the server being wiped.” He adds, “All the information we have is that the server wasn’t wiped.” The Washington Post says this is “the strongest indication to date that tens of thousands of emails that Clinton has said were deleted could be recovered.”

If a server is not wiped, which is a process that include overwriting data several times, deleted content can often be recovered. Clinton and her staff have avoided answering if the server was wiped or not. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)

However, a 2016 FBI report will conclude that in late March 2015, a PRN employee named Paul Combetta used a computer program named BleachBit that effectively deleted Clinton’s emails so they couldn’t be later recovered by the FBI. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 14, 2015: The FBI’s Clinton investigation is being run from FBI headquarters

1123_01A.tifFBI Headquarters, Washington, DC (Credit: Fed Scoop)

FBI Headquarters, Washington, DC (Credit: Fed Scoop)

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)

September 22, 2015: Reports suggest the FBI has recovered Clinton’s deleted emails.

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)

October 2, 2015: The company that makes a back-up of Clinton’s server data is given permission to share the data with the FBI.

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.

Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, Inc. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / HearstCTMedia

Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, Inc. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / Hearst Connecticut Media)

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.

October 3, 2015: The FBI picks up the most recent Clinton email server, which is still being used by Clinton.

An inside look at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, NJ. (Credit: Chang W. Lee / New York Time)

An inside look at the Equinix facility in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Credit: Chang W. Lee / New York Time)

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)

October 16, 2015: A former FBI official claims that many FBI agents are upset about Obama’s comments.

A graphic that appears during Megyn Kelly’s interview with James Kallstrom. (Credit: Fox News)

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)

 

October 16, 2015: Clinton’s lawyer gives the FBI two BlackBerrys that prove useless to the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

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David Kendall (Credit: Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

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)

October 22, 2015: FBI Director James Comey comments about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

FBI Director James Comey testifying before a Congressional committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: C-Span)

FBI Director James Comey testifying before a Congressional committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: C-Span)

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)

October 22, 2015: Clinton incorrectly claims that her emails were stored on only one private server.

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Representative Jim Jordan asks Clinton pointed questions during the House Benghazi hearing on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)

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)

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.

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.

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)

 

December 31, 2015: The State Department hasn’t asked other departments to help find any missing Clinton emails.

In September 2015, the Defense Department gave the State Department some emails between Clinton and former Army General David Petraeus that Clinton had previously not turned over. However, in the months since, the State Department does not appear to have reached out to other departments to determine if they also have copies of emails Clinton failed to turn over. McClatchy Newspapers questioned over a dozen other departments. All of them either said they hadn’t been contacted by the State Department about this or failed to give an answer.

The State Department has not explained why it has failed to ask for help from other departments. It’s unclear how the Defense Department determined it had the emails between Clinton and Petraeus or why it turned them over. (McClatchy Newspapers, 12/31/2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 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 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)

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 8, 2016: The Justice Department seems to be against appointing a special prosecutor for Clinton’s email scandal.

Melanie Newman (Credit: public domain)

Melanie Newman (Credit: public domain)

Department spokesperson Melanie Newman says in a statement, “This matter is being reviewed by career attorneys and investigators and does not meet the criteria for the appointment of a special prosecutor.” There has been increasing pressure, especially from Republicans, to appoint a special prosecutor.

Many worry about a potential conflict of interest if Attorney General Loretta Lynch were to head any prosecution. Although Lynch isn’t seen as personally close to Hillary Clinton, Lynch was appointed to be the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Furthermore, there is speculation that Lynch might keep her job as attorney general if Clinton wins the presidential election in November 2016, giving her a personal investment in the outcome of any prosecution.

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Charles Grassley (R) has said that a special prosecutor would reassure Americans that decisions are made “without regard to any political considerations.” Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primaries, said in October 2015, “I think they probably won’t indict her, because the attorney general is from New York, who I believe is a friend of Hillary Clinton.” (The Hill, 2/8/2016)

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)