From 2004 to 2006, the foundation’s annual revenue more than doubles, from $58 million to $134 million. The Washington Post will later say that from this time forward, the Foundation will become the “public face” and “the center of the Clintons’ public and professional lives,” as well as an eventual “springboard for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign,” both in 2008 and 2016. (The Washington Post, 6/2/2015)
Meanwhile, Boeing and the foreign countries involved in the deals donate to the Clinton Foundation and pay for speeches given by Bill Clinton.
- In early 2009, Clinton begins working with Boeing to open up new business in Russia. Later in the year, Clinton visits Russia and makes what she describes as a “shameless pitch” to a Russian airline to buy Boeing passenger jets. In 2010, Boeing gets the deal, selling 50 jets worth $3.7 billion.
- In 2009, China is preparing to host the 2010 world’s fair. However, it seems the US exhibit promoting US businesses will have to be cancelled, since the private fundraising efforts are going poorly. A State Department official warns that there likely will be “extremely widespread” consequences to both diplomatic and commercial interests if the US effort fails. Emails show that Clinton and other State Department officials push Boeing and other US companies to donate, and Boeing eventually gives $2 million, helping make the exhibit a success. US exposition organizer Nick Winslow will later say that he didn’t feel any political pressure, but, “Knowing that it was important to the State Department, did that help? Of course it did.”
- In August 2010, Boeing donates $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation to support education projects in Haiti.
- In February 2011, Boeing wins a $35 billion tanker-refueling contract for the US Air Force. Clinton had supported the bid. When she hears Boeing won, she writes in an email, “I’m pleased.”
- In 2011, the State Department approves a series of weapons deals between Boeing and the government of Kuwait. For instance, Boeing is the prime contractor in a $690 million deal to give Kuwait military transport planes.
- Later in 2011, Bill Clinton is paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation for a speech. Boeing is a sponsor of the event. Kuwait also continues to donate millions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary is secretary of state.
- In late 2011, Clinton’s State Department approves an enormous weapons deal for Saudi Arabia. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing will deliver $30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to that country, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets built by Boeing. The deal takes place despite strong opposition from Israel, as well as concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and lack of democracy. But according to a State Department official, Clinton made the deal a personal “top priority.”
- Saudi Arabia is prohibited from donating money to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state as part of a deal Clinton signed with the White House in 2008. But in previous years, the Saudi government gave at least $10 million to foundation. Additionally, private Saudi citizens and Saudi royals give millions to the foundation while she is in office. Then the Saudi government resumes donating to the foundation after she leaves office.
In early 2012, the State Department helps Boeing secure major deals in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
- In July 2012, Boeing pays Bill Clinton $250,000 for a speech.
- In September 2012, Bill Clinton gives another speech sponsored by Boeing. He is paid $200,000.
- In 2013, Boeing sponsored an event in St. Louis called Clinton Global Initiative University. It’s not clear how much Boeing donates, but it gives between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the event is part of the foundation’s work.
- In 2014, Boeing chief lobbyist Tim Keating hosts a fundraiser on behalf of Clinton’s anticipated 2016 presidential campaign. (The Seattle Times, 3/21/2016) (Politico, 4/15/2015) (The Wall Street Journal, 3/19/2015) (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)
Lisa Gilbert, of the government integrity watchdog group Public Citizen, will later say that what the Clintons were doing likely was not illegal. However, it seems “unsavory.” (The Seattle Times, 3/21/2016) Similar patterns can be seen with other US weapons manufacturers, like Lockheed, and other foreign governments, like Oman and Qatar. Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, will later say, “These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment. Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)
These three years are the only full fiscal years during Clinton’s term as secretary of state. In the immediately previous years, foreign governments donated tens of millions of dollars every year.
In 2015, Reuters will report that in fact foreign governments did continue to give tens of millions each year during this time. After Reuters discovers the discrepancies, the Clinton Foundation will acknowledge the oversight and claims it will refile at least five years of tax returns to fix it.
However, the Clinton campaign will also call allegations of corruption in the Clinton Foundation “absurd conspiracy theories.” (Reuters, 4/23/2015)
It is reported that with Clinton’s term as secretary of state having ended in February 2013, she is centering her activity in the Clinton Foundation. She had been a non-paid member of the foundation’s board of directors before becoming secretary of state, and she returns to the board. Many of her closest aides left the State Department at the same time she did and continue to work for her in a private capacity, such as Huma Abedin, Maura Pally, and Dennis Cheng.
Clinton and her staff are relocating to the foundation’s headquarters in New York City. The New York Times reports: “In the coming months, as Mrs. Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential bid, the foundation could also serve as a base for her to home in on issues and to build up a stable of trusted staff members who could form the core of a political campaign.” (The New York Times, 8/13/2013)
It points out that both Bill and Hillary Clinton has recently been paid speaking fees that are sometimes “astronomical,” and significantly greater than other prominent politicians, including former US presidents. Furthermore, the Clintons often give speeches at public or private universities. These speeches are usually paid by private individuals or foundations, not by the universities themselves.
For instance, in March 2014, Hillary was paid $300,000 to speak to students and faculty at UCLA [The University of California, Los Angeles]. The entire fee was paid through a private endowment by Meyer Luskin, president of Scope Industries, a food waste recycling company. In 2012, Bill Clinton was similarly paid $250,000 for a UCLA speech paid by Luskin. In both cases, the money allegedly went to the Clinton Foundation. (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014) However, ABC News has tried and failed to get any documentation from the Clintons proving the speaking fees went to the foundation. (ABC News, 7/9/2014)
Nonprofit Quarterly then suggests this means the Clintons’ speeches to universities could be a way for rich donors to give well over the usual campaign spending limits to Hillary’s “all but inevitable presidential campaign” by effectively “repurposing” money through these large speaking fees. “It would be terribly disappointing to imagine that the colleges and universities paying the Clintons these sums might be fronting, hopefully unknowingly, for individual donors supporting these colleges’ lecture series, but individually have personal or political agendas that would benefit from being associated with an institution of higher education that pays Bill or Hillary Clinton a couple of hundred thousand for a speech—even if the money ends up in the Clintons’ family foundation.” (Nonprofit Quarterly, 7/11/2014)
Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill writes an email to several Clinton staffers, describing two stories the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are preparing to publish that will be covering Clinton’s economic policies.
Merrill writes, “Both will have a dose of personnel name-gaming, and I’ve spoken to both to steer them towards progressive names, which they seem to both have on their own. I want to give both stories something on the record that addresses the core of the story, but also speaks some of the things we all felt needed a little proactive addressing, like inevitability and timing.”
Merrill then suggests the core of the stories will be about, “Increasing access to opportunity and fighting for upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers in every job she’s held. You heard it from her on the campaign trail last fall, where she laid out the challenges we face. She’s casting a wide net, talking to a wide range of people on a range of specific topics. There’s no red X on a calendar somewhere, but make no mistake, if she runs, she will take nothing for granted, she’ll present bold ideas, and she will fight for every vote.” (Wikileaks, 10/24/2016)
One week later, the New York Times publishes an article by Amy Chozick, entitled “Economic Plan is a Quandry for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” As hoped, the core of the story Merrill mentions in his email is covered in the article and is included as a quote by Bill Clinton’s previous treasury secretary:
“’It’s not enough to address upward mobility without addressing inequality,’ said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration who is among those talking with Mrs. Clinton. ‘The challenge, though, is to address inequality without embracing a politics of envy.’”
Chozick then “steers” readers to several other “progressive names” and writes, “Several of Mr. Clinton’s former advisers, including Alan S. Blinder, Robert E. Rubin and Mr. Summers, maintain influence. But Mrs. Clinton has cast a wide net that also includes Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality; Alan B. Krueger, a professor at Princeton and co-author of ‘Inequality in America’; and Peter R. Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who focuses on retirement issues, is also playing a prominent role.” (New York Times, 2/7/2015)
A few days after that, The Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Laura Meckler entitled, “Hillary Clinton Economic Plan to Chart Center-Left Course.” The article appears to be less “steered” by the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t include “a dose of personnel name-gaming” and offers a more balanced approach between what the liberal base of the Democratic party hopes for, as opposed to Clinton’s more centrist economic positions. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2015)
Because one of the recipients of this email is Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, it will be released by Wikileaks in October 2016.
The Washington Post reports that nearly half of the major donors who are backing Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as nearly half of the bundlers for her 2008 presidential campaign, have given at least $10,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Additionally, “many of the foundation’s biggest donors are foreigners who are legally barred from giving to US political candidates. A third of foundation donors who have given more than $1 million are foreign governments or other entities based outside the United States, and foreign donors make up more than half of those who have given more than $5 million.”
The high percentage of donations from overseas is considered “especially unusual” for a US-based charity. The Post comments that many foreign donors “are likely to have interests before a potential Clinton administration—and yet are ineligible to give to US political campaigns.” The Post also notes, “The overlap between the Clintons’ political network and their charitable work was apparent [on February 13, 2013], when Dennis Cheng stepped down as the foundation’s chief development officer ahead of his expected role as a key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.” (The Washington Post, 2/18/2015)
Lanny Davis was a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, and is a longtime media surrogate for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Speaking to journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News, he says regarding Clinton’s emails on her private server, “There can be a neutral party to review all these records. Nothing unlawful-”
Wallace asks, “You’d like to have a neutral party? … [D]o you think that’s a reasonable idea?”
Davis replies, “I think it is a reasonable idea if anybody has any doubts that there’s a delete on a hard drive-”
Wallace interrupts, “To have an independent party go inspect her private email?”
Davis responds, “I think there is a reasonable idea. If the State Department asks, she will say yes.” (Fox News, 3/8/2015)
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook writes in an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, “We gotta zap Lanny out of our universe. Can’t believe he committed her to a private review of her hard drive on TV.” (WikiLeaks, 11/1/2016)
Podesta’s reply, if any, is unknown. The Mook email will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016.
Clinton will never agree to a neutral review of her server. Later in the month, an employee of the company managing her server will delete and wipe all the emails from her server.
Clinton meets with President Obama at the White House. This is noteworthy since it appears to be the first time they met since Clinton’s email controversy started on March 2, 2015, and Clinton is only a private citizen at the time. There is no public notice of the meeting beforehand. Afterwards, White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirms that it happened, but provides few details: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit. This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.” (Politico, 3/23/2015)
In November 2016, an email released by WikiLeaks will reveal some more about the meeting. One day before the meeting, Clinton aide Huma Abedin emailed Clinton, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan. Those three are scheduled to meet with Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)
According to another email released by WikiLeaks, Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough sent Podesta an email on March 17, 2015, asking to meet Podesta in person. Podesta offered to drop by the White House or meet him ‘offsite’ if necessary. The next morning, they ended up meeting at a Starbucks a short walk from the White House. (WikiLeaks, 10/25/2016)
It isn’t known what Clinton and Obama discuss, but it seems probable that Clinton’s email controversy would come up. Three days earlier, on March 20, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee formally requested that Clinton turn over her private email server. Sometime between March 25 and 31, 2015, an employee of the company managing Clinton’s private server will delete and wipe all of Clinton’s emails from her private server. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign will begin one month later.
An email written by Clinton’s Deputy Press Secretary Jesse Ferguson is addressed to several Clinton staffers and states, “We wanted to make sure everyone on this email had the latest information on the two upcoming dinners with reporters. Both are off-the-record.”
Ferguson lists the first party to occur on, “April 9th  at 7:00p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).”
The second party is to occur the following evening on, “April 10th at 6:30p.m. Cocktails and Hors D’oeuvre at the Home of Joel Benenson. … This is with a broader universe of New York reporters.”
A total of thirty eight reporters commit to attend one or both of the “off-the-record” parties. The email will be publicly released in October 2016 by WikiLeaks.
A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox. (Wikileaks, 04/06/15) (Wikileaks, 04/09/2015)
In an April 10, 2015 email, Clinton’s deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson describes an “off-the-record” cocktail party for “key national reporters, influential reporters, anchors and editors. … Especially (though not exclusively) those that are based in New York.” Top level Clinton staff are also invited. It is to take place one day later in the home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, in the Upper East Side of New York City.
The memo also lists the pre-campaign goals Clinton’s staff hopes to achieve by having the cocktail party:
- Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC [Clinton] in advance of the announcement
- Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period
- Framing the HRC message and framing the race
- Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more
Thirty-eight “influential reporters, anchors and editors” are also listed, and agree to attend the party. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)
A second email sent on Apil 6, 2015 indicates a second dinner party is also planned for “April 9th at 7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).” (Wikileaks, 10/16/2016)
A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox.
These emails will be released by Wikileaks in October, 2016.
She narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008. Due to her long and prominent political career, she immediately establishes herself as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination. (The New York Times, 4/13/2015)
She resigns from the board of directors of the Clinton Foundation on the same day to avoid conflict of interest issues. (Politico, 4/12/2015)
Politico reports this after some major donors are reconsidering giving to the foundation due to recent negative media reports as well as Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement she is running for president again. An unnamed donor who gave at least $500,000 to the foundation last year says, “There are a lot of factors and the reputational is among them. We had some questions about how the money was being spent—and that was long before the problems were in the press.” (Politico, 4/30/2015)
The book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, written by Peter Schweizer, is published by HarperCollins. The book is highly critical of the Clinton Foundation, and is released within one month of Clinton announcing her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election. In November 2016, it will be revealed that the book is a major reason why the FBI starts an investigation into the foundation a short time after its publication.
The book causes controversy even before it is published, due to major media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News, getting exclusive stories based on different portions of the book. The Times at least says they didn’t pay anyone for their exclusives. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015)
The foundation also publicly admits that it made mistakes, due to a wave of negative reporting, with many stories based on the books’ contents.
The day the book is published, Clinton’s campaign posts a section its official website attempting to refute the book’s claims. Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, writes: “The book has zero evidence to back up its outlandish claims… While we will not be consumed by these kinds of attacks, we will also not let them go unchallenged.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2015)
The book is widely read, staying five weeks on the New York Times’ best seller list. (The New York Times, 6/21/2015)
Much of the criticism of the book is based on the reputation and motives of its author. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a right wing think tank, and was a research fellow at Stanford University’s right wing Hoover Institution. He is also a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart News, a controversial right wing news website so supportive of Donald Trump, the man who will become Clinton’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, that Stephen Bannon, the executive chair of Breitbart News, will resign in August 2016 to become the CEO of Trump’s campaign. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016)
Schweizer has written many books, most of them with an overt right wing political slant, such as Do as I Say (Not as I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, published in 2005.
Shortly after the book is published, the publisher announces that “seven to eight factual corrections” have been made to a revised version, calling them “actually quite minor.” (Politico, 5/14/2015)
A Newsweek review of the book comments, [J]ust because the book’s author, who has written for Breitbart News, is widely considered a right-wing guttersnipe… doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Well, at least not entirely wrong. He gets various dates and figures wrong… Mostly, though, it raises intriguing questions without ever really convicting.”
Newsweek continues, “The book contains many more lurid examples of Bill and Hillary [Clinton] doing things that look bad—from Bill taking juicy speaking fees from a major investor in the Keystone XL pipeline while Hillary’s state department reviewed the pipeline deal, to the Clinton Foundation accepting donations from a Swedish mining investor who more or less financed a coup in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. None of these actions are illegal. And it’s not even clear if they’re related. The rooster doesn’t cause the sun to rise, but this is the thrust of Schweizer’s argument. He never proves any laws were broken—in fact, he practically begins the book by hedging his accusations: ‘I realize how shocking these allegations may appear. Are these activities illegal? That’s not for me to say. I’m not a lawyer.'” (Newsweek, 5/1/2015)
In the wake of numerous critical news reports, and just days after Hillary Clinton announced her second presidential campaign, the foundation says that it will limit foreign government donations to six countries that have already funded Clinton Foundation programs: Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other countries that donated in the last year, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, are not included. The foundation also says it will suspend its future overseas conferences. (Politico, 4/15/2015)
The foundation placed voluntary limits on itself in 2008 shortly before Hillary became secretary of state, but those limits were secretly violated in a number of ways.
Hill columnist Brent Budowsky writes an email with the subject heading “John, be careful” to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta about attacks Clinton opponents will launch during the 2016 race.
Budowsky writes, “I am not going to raise this publicly, but one of [Clinton’s] opponents will soon charge that she is running an ‘imperial campaign.’ If it is the right opponent, Democrat or Republican, the charge will resonate.”
But when asked if he’ll keep giving paid speeches if she becomes the next president, he says, “No, I don’t think so.” In 2014 alone, Bill and Hillary were paid $25 million for 104 paid speeches, and such speeches have raised conflict of interest questions. Asked if he will continue to work for the Clinton Foundation if Hillary becomes president, he says, “That will be not an easy decision should she be elected president. She will have to decide…[We] will have to talk about it.” (CNN, 6/11/2015)
At a fund-raising dinner in Clear Lake, Iowa, Clinton jokes, “You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)
Later in the month, a New York Times article on Democratic politicians who worry about the email scandal notes, “many say, her repeated jokes and dismissive remarks on the email controversy suggest that she is not treating it seriously enough.” (The New York Times, 8/27/2015)
For instance, the Washington Post reports that one unnamed “longtime Clinton adviser and confidant” says, “They’re worried about it. They don’t know where it goes. That’s the problem.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)
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.
Clinton’s top campaign officials are debating a statement Clinton would make on her use of an email server in her home. Campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon writes in an email, “We should not think it is fine to find something that ‘should have been classified at the time.’ Our position is that no such material exists, else it could be said she mishandled classified info.” The email is sent to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, as well as Clinton aides Jen Palmieri, Robby Mook, and three others. (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
After the email is leaked in October 2016, Bloomberg News will note that “Fallon’s [email] came just days after Clinton gave a vague answer on the erasure of emails that her lawyers deemed not to be work-related. Asked if she’d wiped her server, she responded: ‘Like with a cloth or something?‘”
Additionally, “It wasn’t immediately clear when or if Clinton delivered the statement suggested by Fallon, which would have come after months of downplaying the issue. Four days after Fallon wrote the email, Clinton said using the server ‘clearly wasn’t the best choice. I’m confident that this process will prove that I never sent nor received any email that was marked classified.” (Bloomberg News, 10/13/2016)
The New York Times reports that “Democratic leaders are increasingly frustrated by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to put to rest questions about her State Department email practices and ease growing doubts among voters about her honesty and trustworthiness. […] Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates, and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy—by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.”
Ed Rendell, a former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Clinton’s presidential candidacy, is particularly blunt and critical: “They’ve handled the email issue poorly, maybe atrociously, certainly horribly. The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue. She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue—they’re left just playing defense.” (The New York Times, 8/27/2015)
On September 8, 2015, Clinton finally said that her use of a private email account and private server while secretary of state was “a mistake,” and “I’m sorry about that.”
The New York Times publishes an article based on “interviews with a half-dozen people with direct knowledge” of Clinton’s private decisions that claims it was a long and “tortured path” getting Clinton to make any apology. For months, she resisted pressure from advisers and friends to apologize, saying that her actions had been within the law and to do so would only legitimize criticism of her behavior. But pressure continued to mount and her poll numbers dropped.
In early September 2015, Clinton’s campaign organized focus groups with voters, which showed that voters liked when Clinton took a more conciliatory tone over the issue. Still, Clinton had trouble apologizing. The Times reports, “Frustration reached a fever pitch among some of her supporters, who sounded an alarm in calls to Clinton campaign aides.”
By September 8, Clinton’s strategists “concluded that there was only one way out of it,” leading to her apology in an interview later that day. (The New York Times, 9/11/2015)
In an interview, Clinton says of the presidential election, “This is a contest, and it’s fair game for people to raise whatever they choose to raise… you know they’re not giving this job away. Of course I take responsibility. It was my choice. It was a mistake back when I did it, and I’m trying to do the best I can to answer all of the questions that people have.” (The Washington Post, 9/27/2015)
According to a June 17, 2016 Bloomberg News article, during this time period, the same allegedly Russian hackers who breach the computers of the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and Clinton’s presidential campaign “[burrow] much further into the US political system, sweeping in law firms, lobbyists, consultants, foundations, and the policy groups known as think tanks, according to a person familiar with investigations of the attacks.” Almost 4,000 Google accounts are targeted by “spear phishing,” which involves tricking targets to give log-in information so their data can be accessed. The Center for American Progress, a think tank with ties to Clinton and the Obama administration, is one known target.
Bloomberg News will further report that, “Based on data now being analyzed, various security researchers believe the campaign stems from hackers linked to Russian intelligence services and has been broadly successful, extracting reams of reports, policy papers, correspondence and other information.”
The Russian government denies any involvement, but cybersecurity experts who have investigated the attacks believe the hackers are working for Russia. It is believed that either or both of two major Russian hacking groups, Fancy Bear (or APT 28) and Cozy Bear (or APT 29) are behind the attacks. (Bloomberg News, 6/17/2016)
In the first Democratic primary debate, Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, addresses Clinton’s email scandal. “Let me say this. Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
Clinton responds, “Thank you. Me too. Me too.” Then the two of them shake hands.
According to the Los Angeles Times: “The crowd went wild. So did the Internet.” (The Los Angeles Times, 10/13/2015)
Sanders will continue to avoid criticizing Clinton about her emails in the months that follow. Some of Sanders’ allies are disappointed that he doesn’t frequently attack Clinton on the issue. Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D), a Clinton supporter, will later say, “The email story is not about emails. It is about wanting to avoid the reach of citizens using FOIA”—the Freedom of Information Act—“to find out what their government is doing, and then not telling the truth about why she did.” (The New York Times, 4/3/2016)
Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R) sends a letter to former Clinton aide and lawyer Heather Samuelson. In late 2014, Samuelson led the sorting process through Clinton’s 62,000 emails to determine which ones to turn over to The State Department and which ones to delete. She also worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then was a senior adviser to Clinton in the State Department.
Grassley asks if Samuelson had the security clearance necessary to handle Clinton’s emails, some of which were later deemed to contain “top secret” intelligence. He writes, “It is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”
A week later, Politico will try to contact Samuelson and the Clinton campaign about Grassley’s questions but got no response. After that there will be no news reports indicating if Grassley ever gets a reply. Earlier in 2015, Samuelson moved from Washington to New York with plans to work in Clinton’s presidential campaign headquarters there. But she never started the job, due to the controversy over her role in sorting Clinton’s emails. (Politico, 11/23/2015)
In the wake of a new revelation that some of Clinton’s private emails discussed top secret “special access programs,” Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon suggests that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and Congressional Republicans have coordinated against Clinton. This claim comes after the contents of a letter McCullough sent to Congress were leaked to the media.
Fallon says, “I think that Republicans are continuing to try to trumpet up and resurface these allegations for the purposes of hurting her campaign.” After a reporter points out that McCullough isn’t a Republican, Fallon replies, “Actually, I think this was a very coordinated leak yesterday. Because two months ago, there was a political report that directly challenged the finding of this inspector general, and I don’t think he liked that very much. So I think that he put two Republican senators up to sending him a letter so that he would have an excuse to resurface the same allegations he made back in the summer that have been discredited.” (Politico, 1/20/2016)
Fallon backtracks two days later, admitting he doesn’t know whether McCullough leaked the letter, but suggests he still bears responsibility for the fact it was leaked. McCullough was appointed by President Obama in 2011 and unanimously approved by the Senate. (CNN, 1/22/2016)
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)
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)
The hacker or hacking group is known by the nickname Fancy Bear, and is alleged to be working for the Russian government. Fancy Bear gets into the DNC network in April 2016, which makes it separate from the efforts of Cozy Bear (alleged also to be linked to Russia) or Guccifer 2.0 (alleged to be a “lone hacker”) which in either case got into the network for about a year. Fancy Bear’s attack on Clinton’s staffers is said to start in March 2016, according to the security firm SecureWorks. Targets include Clinton’s communications and travel organizers, speechwriters, policy advisers, and campaign finance managers.
The hackers use the “spear phishing” technique of sending an email from a seemingly trusted source in order to get the target to click on a link. In this case, the links are shortened by an Internet service known as Bitly to make it hard to notice that they’re bogus. They take the target to a fake Google login page, since most or all of Clinton’s staffers use Gmail. Once the target gives their user name and password, the hacker can log into the real account and access all the data. The hackers create 213 links targeting 108 hillaryclinton.com addresses. Twenty of those are clicked, raising the possibility that some accounts are successfully breached. (Forbes, 6/16/2016)
Bloomberg News reports that “The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone on the attack against the government official who conducts oversight of the State Department she used to run [Inspector General Steve Linick], accusing him of partisanship and misconduct without any direct evidence.”
However, Linick is a difficult target because he “has never been regarded as a partisan official” and President Obama appointed him. So the attackers are focusing on Emilia DiSanto, who works in his office, and claim that she is influencing him too much. Clinton supporters argue DiSanto is biased against Clinton because she had previously worked as an investigator for Republican Senator Charles Grassley.
Bloomberg News reports that for Linick’s staff, “the accusations are impossible to confront head on because they are not authorized to speak on the record about ongoing investigations.” Furthermore, his office has been “receiving dozens of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests aimed at gathering information on office staffers themselves. Sources in the inspector general office tell me they see the requests and accusations as an attempt to intimidate them and deter them from continuing Clinton-related work.” Bloomberg News concludes, “Accusing Linick’s staffers of misconduct due to their past work affiliations is a slippery slope; tons of government employees have connections on Capitol Hill.” (Bloomberg News, 3/4/2016)
On June 14, 2016, McClatchy Newspapers will report that a hacking attack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] is discovered “in late April 2016, after staffers noticed unusual activity on the DNC’s computer network.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 6/14/2016)
On June 21, 2016, Bloomberg News will report, “The Clinton campaign was aware as early as April that it had been targeted by hackers with links to the Russian government on at least four recent occasions, according to a person familiar with the campaign’s computer security.” (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)
In late July 2016, it will be reported that the FBI warned the Clinton campaign in March 2016 that it was the target of hacking attempts, but the campaign refused to help the FBI stop them.
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)
Clinton was paid a total of $22 million for 94 speeches by 82 different firms and organizations in the time between the end of her secretary of state tenure in February 2013 and the official start of her 2016 presidential campaign in April 2015. At least 60 firms and organizations that paid for her speeches lobbied the Obama administration at some point, at least 30 profited from government contracts, and at least 22 had business before the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state.
Lawrence Noble, of the election watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, says, “The problem is whether all these interests who paid her to appear before them will expect to have special access when they have an issue before the government.”
Together, trade association lobbying groups and the financial sector paid a total of $11 million of her speeches, about half of the total during that two-year time period. (The Associated Press, 8/21/2016)
The Romanian hacker nicknamed Guccifer, whose real name is Marcel-Lehel Lazar, has been recently interviewed by Fox News. He claims for the first time that after breaking into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013, he traced Clinton’s emails back to her private email server.
He tells Fox News, “For me, it was easy […] easy for me, for everybody.” He says he accessed her server “like twice.” He adds, “For example, when Sidney Blumenthal got an email, I checked the email pattern from Hillary Clinton, from Colin Powell, from anyone else to find out the originating IP [Internet Protocol address]. […] When they send a letter, the email header is the originating IP usually…then I scanned with an IP scanner.”
He said he then used some Internet programs to determine if the server was active and which ports were open. However, the server’s contents did “not interest” him at the time. “I was not paying attention. For me, it was not like the Hillary Clinton server, it was like an email server she and others were using with political voting stuff.”
If he breached the server, it appears he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing, and he has not claimed to have uncovered more of Clinton’s emails. He is interviewed from a US prison and has no documents to back up his claim. However, Fox News reports, “While [his] claims cannot be independently verified, three computer security specialists, including two former senior intelligence officials, said the process described is plausible and the Clinton server, now in FBI custody, may have an electronic record that would confirm or disprove Guccifer’s claims.”
Cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright comments, “The Blumenthal account gave him a road map to get to the Clinton server. […] You get a foothold in one system. You get intelligence from that system, and then you start to move.”
Guccifer claims he wants to cooperate with the US government, adding that he has hidden two gigabytes of data that is “too hot” and is “a matter of national security.”
The Clinton campaign responds, “There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell. In addition to the fact he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton’s server are inaccurate.” (Fox News, 5/4/2016)
Politico reports, “An internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking” according to “a source familiar with the situation.” (Politico, 5/4/2016)
An FBI report in September 2016 will assert that Guccifer admitted in his FBI interview that he lied about his claim to have accessed Clinton’s server.
Clapper publicly comments, “We’ve already had some indications” of hacking on the computer networks of the two frontrunners in the presidential race. He warns, “We’ll probably have more.” He suggests the hackers could be working for foreign governments.
V. Miller Newton, who advises federal agencies on data security, says foreign spying on campaign sites is inevitable. “These campaigns are not working on encrypted platforms. It’s a matter of when, and how serious of an impact it is going to have on this election.” (The Associated Press, 5/18/2016)
It will later emerge that a hacking attack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was already discovered, in late April 2016, after staffers noticed unusual activity on the DNC’s computer network. (McClatchy Newspapers, 6/14/2016)
The New York Times reports that Bill and Hillary Clinton have indicated their relationship with the Clinton Foundation would remain basically unchanged if Hillary becomes the next president. However: “Ethics experts reject that answer. They say there wouldn’t be any way to avoid the appearance of conflicts if she wins the presidency.”
Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University School of Law, says, “If Bill seeks to raise large sums of money from donors who also have an interest in US policy, the public will rightly question whether the grants affected United States foreign policy.” He adds that ethics rules are “not merely to prevent bad behavior but to foster public trust in the integrity of government choices.”
Joel Fleishman, who ran a foundation and wrote a book on philanthropy, says the Clintons should “sever the relationship [with the foundation] completely and put it in the hands of independent trustees.” They also should pick a leader of “impeccable integrity and let it go its own way in raising money.” (The New York Times, 5/22/2016)
Hours after a report is released by the State Department’s inspector general that is highly critical of Clinton’s email practices, the Clinton campaign releases a statement that largely dismisses the report’s critique. The New York Times analyzes and disputes every claim made in the 203-word Clinton rebuttal:
- “The inspector general documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email.” The Times points out that only former Secretary of State Colin Powell exclusively used a personal email account for work matters, and nobody else used a private email server.
- “The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record-keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor.” The Times notes the department did have long-standing recordkeeping issues. However, the rules became more stringent by the time Clinton became secretary of state. Most of Clinton’s predecessors simply didn’t use email at all.
- “Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the department during her tenure…” The Times notes that many in the State Department did know of Clinton’s private email address, due to exchanging emails with her. “It is equally clear, however, that senior department officials were sensitive about people raising red flags about it. When two junior staff members expressed concerns to their boss in the Information Records Management office, he ‘instructed the staff never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.’”
- “There is no evidence of any successful breach of the secretary’s server.” While it is true the report contains no proof the server was breached, the server was shut down twice due to hacker attacks. Prior to the report, Clinton claimed there was no evidence it was even attacked.
- “We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that.” The Times notes, “many of these regulations [pointed out in the report] existed, in one form or another, when she was in office.”
- “As this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.” The Times counters, “Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email and server stored in her home was, in fact, unique. She left the State Department without turning over any emails, and only did so after she was contacted by the department’s lawyers, who were under pressure to produce documents from the House Select Committee on Benghazi.” Furthermore, the emails she turned over now appear to be incomplete.
- The Times concludes by noting that the Clinton campaign statement “does not repeat an assertion Mrs. Clinton has made before: that her arrangement, while unwise, was permitted. Last September, she told the Associated Press: ‘What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that.’” (The New York Times, 5/25/2016)
Brad Woodhouse, of the pro-Clinton group Correct the Record, says, “Let the FBI finish its investigation. Let the FBI do its job. We trust that process. We’d like to see that process through.”
Correct the Record calls itself “a strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.” It was founded by David Brock, who also runs Clinton’s main super PAC. (Politico, 5/25/2016) (Correct the Record, 5/7/2016)
Journalist Carl Bernstein says that Clinton “set up a home brew server for purposes of evading the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], evading subpoenas from Congress, that’s its real purpose, to not have accountability, to not have transparency.”
He alleges, “if you talk to people around the Clinton campaign very quietly, they will acknowledge to you, if you are a reporter who knows some of the background, that this is the purpose of it. Is so she would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. So that—because the e-mails aren’t there, that nobody knew about this server.”
He also calls the recently released State Department inspector general report “a devastating event for Hillary Clinton. It is a time bomb that has been ticking and it’s starting to explode around her and there’s more to come because the FBI’s investigation is ongoing.”
In addition to his famous role exposing the Watergate scandal, Bernstein wrote a 2008 book about Clinton. (CNN, 5/27/2016)
The Times publishes an editorial written by its editorial board entitled: “Hillary Clinton, Drowning in Email.”
It says that Clinton’s “campaign for the presidency just got harder” due to the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices. “Donald Trump, her Republican rival, will be merciless in swinging the inspector general’s report like a cudgel. […] Mrs. Clinton has to answer questions about the report thoroughly and candidly. That is her best path back to the larger task of campaigning for the presidency.” (The New York Times, 5/26/2016)
One day after a State Department inspector general’s report was released criticizing Clinton’s email practices, President Obama is asked what he thinks of the report and if it “undermines her trustworthiness with the people.”
Obama replies, “Look, I’ve already said a lot about these issues. I think those are better directed to the campaign.” Obama has publicly commented on Clinton’s email scandal twice before, in October 2015 and April 2016. (The Hill, 5/26/2016)
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan grants a recent request from Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills to keep audio and video recordings of her upcoming deposition from being made public, at least for now. Mills, who is due to be deposed one day later, argued that such recordings could be used for political purposes against Clinton in the presidential election.
Sullivan writes, “The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available. It is therefore unnecessary to also make the audiovisual recording of Ms. Mills’ deposition public.” On his own initiative, Sullivan blocks the release of all audio and video recordings of the five other former Clinton aides due to be deposed in the suit he is presiding over.
Politico reports, “Sullivan did not signal what his concern was about improper use of the videos, nor did he explain whether he agreed with Mills’ attorneys that the videos were more susceptible to misuse or distortion than the written transcripts that will be released.” Sullivan orders that the audio and video should be filed with the court, raising the possibility they could be released later. (Politico, 5/26/2016)
John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign, sends a letter to Clinton’s top supporters responding to the recent State Department inspector general’s report criticizing Clinton’s email practices. It repeatedly emphasizes that Clinton made a “mistake,” and “she has taken responsibility for that mistake.”
This approach contrasts with Clinton’s actual interview comments since the report came out in which she has generally struck an unrepentant tone. For instance, in one such interview, she said, “There may be reports that come out, but nothing has changed. It’s the same story.” (BuzzFeed, 5/30/2016)
A Rasmussen Reports poll reveals that 43% of likely US voters think Clinton should stop her presidential campaign if she is charged with a felony as part of her email scandal. But 50% think she should continue her campaign until a court decides on her guilt or innocence. Some 65% consider it likely she broke the law and 30% consider it unlikely; 40% say the scandal makes them less likely to vote for her and 48% say it will have no impact on them. (Rasmussen Reports, 5/31/2016)
Politico reports that the State Department inspector general’s report on her email practices has frustrated Clinton’s attempt to focus on her positives, since trustworthiness and honesty issues continue to dodge her. “Clinton’s game plan moving forward is to keep her head down and move the email issue to the side rather than try and explain it all away, while reiterating that what she did was a mistake, [unnamed Clinton] campaign officials said.”
An unnamed “longtime Clinton ally” says: “The strategy of, ‘let’s tell everyone everything about this,’ won’t work now and will just result in more questions. The goal now is how to make this election about something else other than email.”
Another unnamed “Clinton ally close to the campaign” says, “If she starts answering questions [about her email scandal], it becomes Chinese water torture. I think she has said all there is to say on this and needs to put it behind her. If you start to fall into a trap of responding to every little nuance, you lose.” (Politico, 6/1/2016)
Podesta admits that her use of just one email account for work and personal matters was a “mistake.” He adds, “But the question is, given the stakes of this election, is that, you know, is that a mistake that you would judge as disqualifying. Maybe some people will.”
Asked about the significance of the continuing email investigations, he says, “I think it’s definitely hurt her. She said it was a mistake from the outset, wished that we could take it back, but she used a private email system.” (The Daily Caller, 6/8/2016)
A June 21, 2016 Bloomberg News article claims the warnings came before the hack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] was made public on June 14, 2016. However, it’s unclear when the warnings happened exactly. This is according to one unnamed “person familiar with the government investigation into the attacks.”
But the Trump campaign won’t respond to questions about the warnings, and Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs says he isn’t aware of the warnings.
Bloomberg News will comment, “Information about the scope of the attacks and the government warnings raises new questions about how long the campaigns have known about the threats and whether they have done enough to protect their systems.” (Bloomberg New, 6/21/2016)
It has been reported that the Clinton campaign and related organizations have been attacked by hackers, but there have been no confirmed attacks on the Trump or Sanders campaigns. (Bloomberg News, 6/17/2016)
The Washington Post reports that the emails, text messages, and other computer files of The DNC [Democratic National Committee] were accessed by two groups allegedly linked to Russia. Opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was stolen.
One group known as Cozy Bear broke into the DNC’s network a year ago and maintained access without getting caught. The other group known as Fancy Bear, apparently working independently, did so much more recently. These same hackers also probed the networks of both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, as well as some Republican political action committees, but it is unknown if those attacks succeeded.
The first hacking group typically uses “spear phishing” to gain access. This is when an email appears to come from a someone the recipient knows but actually is meant to trick that person into activating embedded malicious code by clicking on an attachment or link. (Wired, 6/14/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/14/2016)
Forbes comments that the “Holy Grail of Russian intelligence is uncovering compromising material that can be used to embarrass, manipulate, or blackmail foreign political leaders.” Furthermore, “If the DNC’s cyber secrets are open to Russian intelligence hackers, the odds are overwhelming that they have Clinton’s private emails as well, especially given that Clinton’s private server was a target of the highest value.” This means Clinton could be blackmailed or otherwise manipulated by Russia as well. Forbes also notes how both cases involved spear phishing. (Forbes, 6/14/2016)
Clinton was targeted by spear phishing at least three times, twice in May 2011, and once in July 2011. It is unknown if any of those attacks succeeded. (US Department of State, 10/30/2015) (US Department of State, 3/5/2015) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
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