Democrat Bill Clinton is the president of the US for eight years and his wife Hillary Clinton is the first lady.
James Comey is deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee. According to Time Magazine in March 2016: “In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to ‘far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,’ Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted ‘a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.’”
However, Comey is not in charge of the case, and his superiors decide not to press charges against Bill or Hillary Clinton in the matter.
The Washington Post publishes a front-page story analyzing Hillary Clinton’s public comments about the Whitewater investigation. It concludes, “From the beginning of the Whitewater controversy, Hillary Clinton has maintained a public posture seemingly at odds with her actions. She was reluctant to release records during the 1992 campaign. She fought David Gergen’s recommendation to turn over all the records in 1993. She led White House opposition to the appointment of a special counsel in early 1994. There appears to be a four-year pattern of Hillary Clinton avoiding full disclosure, occasionally forgetting places and events that might embarrass her, and revising her story as documents emerge and the knowledge of her questioners deepens.” (The Washington Post, 6/2/1996)
Bloomberg News will later comment, “The impression that she had something to hide—even when she may not have—was cemented when her Whitewater billing records from her old practice, the Rose Law Firm, mysteriously went missing for two years, then turned up in a reading room in the third-floor residence at the White House.” (Bloomberg News, 3/3/2015)
Home video footage from a private fundraiser shows Senator Clinton talking about how she has deliberately avoided using email so she wouldn’t leave a paper trail. “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I? I don’t even want… Why would I ever want to do email? Can you imagine?”
The Washington Post will later report that between the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001 and 2013, he is paid at least $26 million to speak for groups that are also major donors to the Clinton Foundation. This is one-fourth of his overall speaking fees (at least $100 million) in that time period, demonstrating “how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth.”
Many groups paying for his speeches also have interests affected by Hillary Clinton’s State Department when she is secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. (The Washington Post, 4/22/2015)
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)
In 2005, new State Department regulations state that normal day-to-day activities should be conducted on an authorized computer system, known as an automated information system (AIS). Examples of an AIS include a server and a mobile device.
In 2007, new regulations specify that nondepartmental AISs containing department information must be registered with the department and maintain certain minimum security standards.
In 2016, an internal department investigation will determine that Clinton never registered her private server or mobile devices and thus never had them checked to see if they maintained the required security standards. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. Although she doesn’t use email much at all, her top aides do—and at some point that becomes a security problem. In a February 2009 email, the NSA’s senior liaison to the State Department will explain what happens: “Former Secretary Rice had received waivers for her staff; however, use expanded to an unmanageable number of users from a security perspective, so those waivers were phased out and BlackBerry use was not allowed in her suite.”
When Clinton becomes the next secretary of state, she and her aides will want to use BlackBerrys too, but security officials won’t allow it after the growing problems with Rice’s aides. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)
Clinton begins using a handheld BlackBerry device for her email communications. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
In September 2015, Clinton’s future deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will be interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee. She will reveal that when she had an email or other computer problem while working on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, or even earlier working as an aide when Clinton was a senator, Abedin would turn to Justin Cooper for help. “I usually called Justin. He was our go-to guy. He always was, you know, ‘I’m having a problem, can you help me fix it,’ and he always did…” She would also call on Cooper whenever Clinton was having an email problem.
Cooper will also be the person who suggests she get a clintonemail.com email account on Clinton’s private server shortly before Clinton becomes secretary of state, and then sets it up for her. This suggests his involvement managing Clinton’s private server starts early. Cooper is a longtime aide to Bill Clinton, but he apparently never has a government job or security clearance. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015)
Bryan Pagliano, who later will manage Clinton’s private email server, is hired to be the IT [Information Technology] director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. According to his later resume, his job is to “Hire and manage a team of systems administrators, engineers, and administrative staff.” From 1999 to 2006, he worked as “Senior Systems Engineer” and “Systems Team Lead” for a company giving computer assistance to non-profits in the Washington, DC, area. (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) Pagliano provides technical support for BlackBerry communications during Clinton’s campaign. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
According to a February 2009 email by Donald Reid, a State Department security official, when Clinton is running for president in 2007 and 2008, she and her top aides become “addicted” to using BlackBerry devices to keep in contact with large numbers of people. Once Clinton “got the hang of it, she was hooked.” Also, she does not like to use desktop computers. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)
In 2002, William Binney, a recently retired NSA [National Security Agency] official, alerted the Defense Department’s inspector general that the department is wasting over $3 billion on a new system to track Internet data, when it could be done for $3 million instead.
In 2007, the FBI searches his home in a hunt for whoever leaked details of a secret post-9/11 domestic wiretapping program. He isn’t prosecuted, since he had nothing to do with that leak, but government officials “blackball” his consulting firm for intelligence agencies, costing him millions of dollars. He is wiretapped, stripped of his security clearance, and threatened with prosecution for two years.
In 2015, he will complain that he was unfairly targeted because he was a whistleblower. He says Clinton and other top ranking officials will never get prosecuted, no matter what they do. “These people are above the law.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)
A Congressional oversight committee investigates allegations that the White House fired US attorneys for political reasons. The committee asks Bush officials to turn over relevant emails, only to find that government work had been conducted on private email addresses. Millions of emails are deleted and permanently lost, preventing the committee from continuing their investigation. Bush officials use email accounts associated with a private gwb43.com server owned and controlled by the RNC [Republican National Committee], which is a private political entity not covered by government oversight laws. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2007) (Vox, 3/2/2015)
In 2015, shortly after Clinton’s use of a private email address will be revealed, Vox will comment, “That [Bush administration email] scandal unfolded well into the final year of Bush’s presidency, then overlapped with another email secrecy scandal, over official emails that got improperly logged and then deleted, which itself dragged well into Obama’s first year in office. There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same.”
Vox will also note, “Perhaps even more stunning is that the Obama White House, whose top officials were presumably exchanging frequent emails with Clinton, apparently did not insist she adopt an official email account.” (Vox, 3/2/2015)
While campaigning for president, Clinton says, “Our Constitution is being shredded. We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about secret military tribunals, the secret White House email accounts. […] It’s a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok.” (ABC News, 3/6/2015) (The Hill, 3/5/2015)
This is a reference to a scandal that became public earlier in the month, where it was found that White House adviser Karl Rove and other officials had used private email accounts and then deleted all their emails before investigators could get them. (Vox, 3/2/2015) (YouTube Video, 6/20/2007)
Aides to former President Bill Clinton start a Canadian charity called “the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada)” or the CGEPC. This is very similar to but separate from another Bill Clinton-related Canadian charity simply named the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) that was formed two months earlier. All the donations from both charities seem to get forwarded to the Clinton Foundation.
The New York Times will later report that the CGEPC “effectively shielded the identities of donors who gave more than $33 million…despite a pledge of transparency when Hillary Rodham Clinton became secretary of state.”
The Clinton Foundation will later claim that the CGEPC, like the CGEP, was created by Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra to allow Canadian donors to get a tax break for supporting the Clinton Foundation’s work. But the New York Times will later report, “However, interviews with tax lawyers and officials in Canada cast doubt on assertions that the partnership was necessary to confer a tax benefit; an examination shows that for many donors it was not needed, and in any event, since 2010, Canadians could have donated to the foundation directly and received the same tax break. Also, it is not at all clear that privacy laws prohibit the partnership from disclosing its donors, the tax lawyers and officials in Canada said.” (The New York Times, 4/29/2015)
On September 20, 2007, with Hillary Clinton running for president, her husband Bill Clinton says of his work with the Clinton Foundation and his presidential library, “Now we don’t have to publish all of our donors, for example, and if Hillary became president, I think there would be all these questions about whether people would try to win favor with her by giving money to me. You know it wouldn’t work, and I don’t think they would. Still, there are legitimate questions.” (The Economist, 9/20/2007)
Seven days later, he says, “If she becomes president…I will disclose all the donors to our library and activities. For the people that have already given me money, I don’t think I should disclose it unless there is some conflict of which I am aware, and there is not.” (The Washington Post, 9/28/2007)
The federal government’s US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), warns that exposed server ports are security risks. According to a 2015 Associated Press article, “It [says] remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.”
But according to records from late 2012, the private email server used by Clinton while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 will have exposed server ports, and it will use remote-control programs without encryption tunnels. This will leave it more vulnerable to hacker attacks. (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015)
Instead, an acting inspector with close ties to State Department leadership fills the role. An “inspector general” is an internal watchdog tasked with discovering mismanagement and corruption. The position goes vacant in January 2008. President Obama doesn’t nominate anyone to fill the position for more than four years, making it the longest time any department ever went without a permanent one.
Five months after Clinton leaves office, Obama nominates Steve Linick, who is confirmed as the new permanent inspector general three months later, on September 30, 2013.
In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will write, “The lack of a confirmed inspector general raises questions about oversight of the department under Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. The department has been criticized for its failure to gather and archive the email records of Mrs. Clinton and other officials and for responses to public-record requests that lawmakers and advocacy groups say were insufficient… It isn’t clear whether Mrs. Clinton had any role in the lack of a nomination.”
The acting inspector general during Clinton’s term, Harold Geisel, is banned from taking the job permanently due to conflict of interest rules. Matthew Harris, a professor who researches inspectors general, will later comment, “It’s a convenient way to prevent oversight.” Acting inspectors general “don’t feel empowered; they don’t have the backing of their people. They’re in a position where they could be removed at any moment.”
Representative Ed Royce (R), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will later suggest, “A permanent IG [inspector general] would have objected to [Clinton’s] efforts to circumvent congressional oversight by keeping her emails off the books.”
The White House has yet to explain why it waited so long to nominate a replacement. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2015)
An IP address associated with the clintonemail.com domain later used by Hillary Clinton is registered to “Eric Hoteham” on this date. The IP address for clintonemail.com, along with others registered in Hoteham’s name, is connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home address in Chappaqua, New York. ABC News will later call Hoteham a “mystery man,” since no one with that name is known to exist.
He may or may not be the same as the similarly named Eric Hothem who worked for Bill Clinton when he was president, was an aide for Hillary Clinton in the early 2000s, and has worked for Citicorp and then JP Morgan since. That person has refused to comment on the matter. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (ABC News, 3/6/2015)
On the same day “Eric Hoteham” (who is probably a Clinton associate named Eric Hothem) registers clintonemail.com for the private server in the Chappaqua house where Bill and Hillary Clinton live, he registers two other domain names: wjcoffice.com and presidentclinton.com. “WJC” most likely stands for Bill Clinton’s full name “William Jefferson Clinton.” The FBI will later determine that this “was primarily a legacy domain that contained mostly forwarded email.” But presidentclinton.com will be used for email accounts of Clinton Foundation employees and other employees of President Clinton.
These other two domains are also based in Clinton’s house, on the same server that will become infamous for containing all of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of state. Apparently, the server won’t become operational until around June 2008.
Bil Clinton doesn’t maintain an email account on the server. His wife Hillary won’t start using an email account on the server until January 2009. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (The New York Times, 3/4/2015) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
During Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, Clinton says that if she is elected, “we will adopt a presumption of openness and [fulfilling] Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests and urge agencies to release information quickly.” (The Federation of American Scientists, 4/15/2008)
But the Washington Post will later report that within days of Clinton becoming the secretary of state in early 2009, “Clinton’s senior advisers were already taking steps that would help her circumvent those high-flown words.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
According to the FBI, around 2007, Justin Cooper purchased an Apple OS X server. Cooper is a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton at the time. On February 1, 2008, the domain names clintonemail.com, wjcoffice.com, and presidentclinton.com were registered, but apparently the server that uses them won’t be operational until a few months later. The server is physically located in a house in Chappaqua, New York, where Bill and Hillary Clinton live.
The server consists of an Apple Power Macintosh G4 or G5 tower and an HP printer. According to Cooper, around June 2008, an Apple employee installs the server in the basement of the Chappaqua house. Cooper is the only person with administrative access to the server. However, the Clinton family and their house staff have physical access to it.
Hillary Clinton uses her att.blackberry.net email account as her primary email address until around mid-to-late January 2009 when she will switch to a newly created firstname.lastname@example.org account hosted on this server. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Obama will win the general election in November 2008 and make Clinton his secretary of state shortly thereafter. (ABC News, 6/7/2008)
At some unknown point after Clinton ends her presidential campaign on June 7, 2008, Bryan Pagliano is tasked as the lead specialist to take care of the new private email server in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York, house. He will keep the job until mid-2013. Pagliano worked as the IT (information technology) director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
He is paid by Clinton’s Senate leadership PAC (political action committee) through April 2009, then starts working for the State Department a month later. (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)
Justin Cooper is an aide to former President Bill Clinton, and he is the administrator for the private server located in the Chappaqua, New York, house where Bill and his wife Hillary live. Cooper will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say that the decision is made to replace the server because the current server (being run on an Apple OS X computer) is antiquated and people using it are having email troubles.
At the recommendation of Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, Cooper contacts Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as an information technology specialist, to build a new server system and to assist Cooper with administrating it. Pagliano was getting rid of the computer equipment from Clinton’s presidential campaign, so it is decided to use some of this equipment for the new server at the Chappaqua house.
According to a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton “told the FBI that at some point she became aware there was a server in the basement of her Chappaqua residence. However, she was unaware of the transition from the Apple server managed by Cooper to another server built by Pagliano and therefore, was not involved in the transition decision.”
Between the fall of 2008 and January 2009, Pagliano gets computer equipment from Clinton’s former presidential campaign headquarters, and also works with Cooper to buy additional necessary equipment.
Clinton becomes secretary of state on January 20, 2009, and begins using a clintonemail.com email address around that time, which is hosted on the old Apple server. The new server won’t be operational until March 2009. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
President-elect Barack Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. (The Guardian, 12/1/2008)
In late 2008, when it becomes clear that newly elected President Obama will nominate Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation presents a very large conflict of interest problem. There is a particular concern that foreign governments could use donations to the foundation to influence the Clinton-led State Department.
As a result, on December 12, 2008, the foundation’s CEO Bruce Lindsey signs a memorandum of understanding with Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Obama’s transition team. It allows governments which had previously donated to the foundation to continue to do so, but only at existing yearly levels. It details an ethics review process for new donating countries or countries that want to “materially increase” their support. However, it does not prohibit foreign countries with interests before the US government from continuing to give money to the foundation.
The Washington Post will later report, “Some of the donations came from countries with complicated diplomatic, military, and financial relationships with the US government, including Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. Other nations that donated included Australia, Norway, and the Dominican Republic.” The Post will also note, “Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to US political candidates, to prevent outside influence over national leaders. But the foundation has given donors a way to potentially gain favor with the Clintons outside the traditional political limits.”
The agreement will expire when Clinton ends her tenure as secretary of state in February 2013. (The Washington Post, 2/25/2015) (US Senate, 12/18/2008) The agreement covers the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), a Canadian offshoot of the Clinton Foundation that some will later call a “slush fund” for the Clintons. The agreement will be broken in the case of the CGEP, as the Clinton Foundation will not reveal the names of those who donated through the CGEP. (Bloomberg News, 4/19/2015) (Harper’s Magazine, 11/17/2015)
The agreement will also be broken in other aspects. For instance, in 2015 it will be reported that the foundation didn’t disclose any foreign donors to the public, despite that being stipulated in the agreement. It will also emerge that no punishment was spelled out if the agreement was violated. (The Boston Globe, 4/30/2015)
Since it began in 1997, the Clinton Foundation had never revealed who its donors were, as it is not legally required to do so. But on this day, with conflict of interest an increasing issue due to Hillary Clinton about to become President Obama’s secretary of state, the foundation releases its list of donors for the first time. Over 200,000 people and entities gave over $500 million to the foundation since it was created. Some of these donations do show conflict of interest concerns, especially in relation to Hillary’s new secretary of state role.
In 2015, the Washington Post will report that the 2008 list of donors “included foreign governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which could ask the State Department to take their side in international arguments. And it included a variety of other figures who might benefit from a relationship—or the appearance of a relationship—with the secretary. A businessman close to the ruler of Nigeria. Blackwater Training Center, a controversial military contractor. And dozens of powerful American business leaders, including some prominent conservatives, such as Rupert Murdoch.” Additionally, “It appeared that some wealthy donors—who traveled with [Bill] Clinton or attended his events—also had made valuable business connections at the same time.” For instance, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra “attended Clinton-related events and met the leaders of Kazakhstan and Colombia, countries where he would later make significant business deals.” (The Washington Post, 6/2/2015) (The New York Times, 12/18/2008)
Former US Treasury Department official Matthew Levitt says donations from “countries where [the US has] particularly sensitive issues and relations” will invariably raise conflict of interest concerns. “The real question is to what extent you can really separate the activities and influence of any husband and wife, and certainly a husband and wife team that is such a powerhouse.”
Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson says the disclosure of donors should ensure that there would be “not even the appearance of a conflict of interest.” (The New York Times, 12/18/2008)
For instance, in June 2009, top Obama strategist David Axelrod corresponds with Clinton at her private email address. On September 5, 2009, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asks Clinton aide Huma Abedin for Clinton’s email address and is given it.
President Obama also occasionally emails Clinton. However, Obama will later claim that he was unaware Clinton was using a private server, and no evidence has yet emerged that anyone else in the White House knew about the server. (The Associated Press, 6/30/2015)
A few other Clinton associates also get email accounts through Hillary Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server, though the exact total is unknown. Other associates use other private email accounts for government work.
- Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton has an account under the pseudonym “Diane Reynolds,” to help her travel incognito. (Politico, 3/5/2015)
- Deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, whom the New York Times has called a “surrogate daughter” for Hillary, uses a email@example.com address. (Bloomberg News, 3/6/2015)
- Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton does not have an email address, even though the server is in the house he lives in. According to a 2015 account, Bill Clinton has almost never used email. (Bloomberg News, 3/11/2015)—however, another 2015 news article will say that’s almost certainly untrue. (The Atlantic, 3/12/2015)
- Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills does not have an account on the server, but uses firstname.lastname@example.org, a private email account through Google. (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015)
- Philippe Reines, Clinton’s senior advisor and press secretary, has two email accounts, and uses both for work. He has a government account and a private Gmail account (email@example.com). (Politico, 10/5/2015)
Clinton wants to hire Sid Blumenthal as an official national security adviser in the State Department. Blumenthal had worked in President Bill Clinton’s White House in the 1990s, then had been a journalist, then joined Clinton’s presidential campaign as a senior adviser in 2007. However, Obama bans him from any government job.
According to a 2015 Politico article, “Obama aides were convinced that Blumenthal spread false personal and policy rumors about Obama during the battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic nomination.” When Clinton is asked in 2015 if the White House banned her from hiring Blumenthal, she won’t dispute it. (Politico, 10/22/2015) (Politico, 1/8/2016)
Blumenthal will soon get a full-time job at the Clinton Foundation with a $120,000 a year salary. For the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, he will frequently email her intelligence information that he will later claim came from Tyler Drumheller, a CIA agent until 2005. (Politico, 5/28/2015)
Sid Blumenthal is paid about $120,000 a year as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation. He gets the job in early 2009 at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, who employed him in the White House in the 1990s. He keeps the job until March 2015, the same month that the Clinton email scandal first becomes news.
Blumenthal is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and a journalist. He appears to have been a private citizen without a security clearance since the 1990s. Yet for the duration of Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and while he is being paid by the Clinton Foundation, he frequently emails her with intelligence information and advice. His foundation job doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any of the foundation’s charitable works.
According to Politico, “While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of [Bill] Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation.”
In 2011, Blumenthal has a business relationship with two companies, Osprey Global Solutions and Constellations Group, trying to get government contracts to assist US-supported rebels in Libya that year.
After March 2015, Blumenthal will be a paid consultant to American Bridge and Media Matters, two groups supporting Clinton’s presidential campaign that are run by David Brock, an ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal. Politico will later comment, “Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups, and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya underscores the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises.” (Politico, 5/28/2015)
In 2009, the first year Clinton is secretary of state, the State Department begins using the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART), which allows employees to electronically tag emails to preserve a copy for posterity. This allows employees to easily comply with record keeping regulations, instead of having to print out copies of each email.
Although most of the State Department starts using SMART in 2009; the Office of the Secretary elects not to use the SMART system to preserve emails, partly due to concerns that the system would “allow overly broad access to sensitive materials.” (This quote is from an FBI report, but the name of the official who said it is redacted.)
Representatives from the Executive Secretariat (which includes Clinton’s office) ask to be the last to receive the SMART rollout. Ultimately SMART is never used by the Executive Secretariat Office or Clinton for the rest of Clinton’s four-year tenure.
This leaves printing out each email as the only approved method by which the Clinton or her staff in the Office of the Secretary could preserve emails for record keeping. But when Clinton leaves office in February 2013, she won’t even do that.
Remarkably, when Clinton will be interviewed by the FBI in July 2016, the FBI summary will indicate: “Clinton was not aware how other State [Department] staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
SMART will have security and cost overrun problems for the rest of Clinton’s tenure, and beyond.
In court testimony in 2016, State Director of Executive Secretariat Staff Karin Lang will recall that Clarence Finney, who oversees the State Department’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches, is told around the time Clinton becomes secretary of state that she won’t be using a government email account.
Finney will not remember who told him this.
But as a result, Finney makes no attempt to search for Clinton’s emails in response to FOIA requests. (Politico, 6/9/2016)
When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Clintons agreed with the White House that State Department ethics officials would review all offers for Bill Clinton to give paid speeches, to avoid potential conflicts of interest. When the first few speech requests come in, Jim Thessin, the department’s top ethics approver, writes in an email: “In future requests, I would suggest including a statement listing whether or not any of the proposed sponsors of a speaking event have made a donation to the Clinton Foundation and, if so, the amount and date.”
However, Politico will report in 2015, “released documents show no evidence that the question was addressed.” (Politico, 2/25/2015)
Douglas Band starts a lucrative corporate consulting firm named Teneo. Band is a longtime personal assistant to Bill Clinton, as well as his “surrogate son,” and a top leader of the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton joins Teneo as a paid adviser. The New York Times will later report that no outside business has “drawn more scrutiny in Clinton circles than Teneo. […] Aspiring to merge corporate consulting, public relations and merchant banking in a single business, Mr. Band poached executives from Wall Street, recruited other Clinton aides to join as employees or advisers, and set up shop in a Midtown [Manhattan] office formerly belonging to one of the country’s top hedge funds.” The firm recruits clients who are also Clinton Foundation donors, and encourages other clients to donate to the foundation. Teneo’s marketing materials highlight its links to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The Times will later report, “Some Clinton aides and foundation employees began to wonder where the foundation ended and Teneo began.”
Bill Clinton will end his paid role in March 2012 after a controversy over one of Teneo’s clients that allegedly upset Hillary Clinton. Band will leave his paid position with the foundation in late 2010, but he will continue to have a key role in the Clinton Global Initiative, one of the foundation’s major projects. (The New York Times, 8/13/2013)
Band will finally resign from all his remaining Clinton Foundation positions in May 2015, around the time a book called Clinton, Inc. comes out that is critical of links between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation, and also just weeks before Hillary Clinton will begin her second presidential campaign. (The New York Post, 6/21/2015)
Clinton writes a formal letter to Jim Thessin, who is a deputy legal adviser and “designated agency ethics official” for the State Department. In it, she states, “To avoid even the appearance of a conflict” of interest, she and her husband Bill Clinton are “voluntarily taking steps that go above and beyond the requirements of the law and ethics regulations with respect to [Bill’s] personal income earned from speeches and consulting as well as respect to the William J. Clinton Foundation and its initiatives.”
She goes on to list in detail more pledges to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Regarding the Clinton Foundation, she writes: “For the duration of my appointment as Secretary [of State] if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party…”
She concludes with a catch-all, “Finally, I will recuse myself from participation on a case by case basis in any particular matter in which, in my judgment, I determine that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question my impartiality…” (US Senate, 1/5/2009)
In a September 2016 Congressional hearing, Justin Cooper will reveal some information about how Clinton’s use of a private email account on her private server begins. He will state: “Secretary Clinton was transitioning from her presidential campaign and Senate role and had been using primarily a BlackBerry for email correspondence. There were limitations to her ability to use that BlackBerry as well as desire to change her email address because a number of people have received her email address over the course of those activities. So we created with a discussion, I believe, with [Clinton aide] Huma Abedin at the time [about] what domains might be of interest. We obtained a domain and we added it to the original server used by President Clinton’s office for [Hillary Clinton] to use with her BlackBerry at the time…”
Note that Cooper registers three domain names on January 13, 2009, so this discussion must have occurred before then.
Representative Mark Meadows (R) will ask Cooper in the hearing: “So, your testimony here today is that Huma Abedin said that she would prefer to have Ms. Clinton’s email on a private server versus a server that was actually managed by someone else? That’s your testimony?”
Cooper will reply, “My testimony is that that was communicated to me.”
He will also clarify that when it came to talking to Abedin, “I don’t recall conversations with her about the setting up of the server.” But he also will say, “At some point I had a conversation with her about the setting up of an email account for Secretary Clinton on the server.” (US Congress, 9/13/2016)
However, in Abedin’s April 2016 FBI interview, she will say nothing like this. In fact, she will deny even knowing the server existed until it was mentioned in the media, despite her having an email account hosted on the server for the entire duration of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and at least three email exchanges that show her discussing the server during that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
The foundation is not legally obliged to do so, but there is political pressure, with this being the first day of Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearing for her to become the next secretary of state.
The list shows that over 200,000 donors gave at least $492 million dollars since the foundation was founded in 1997. Exact contribution amounts are unknown because the list only gives ranges. At least $46 million comes directly from foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia. The foundation promises to reveal all future donors on a yearly basis, and new foreign government donations will be scrutinized by “government ethics officers.” Some donations come from sources that could lead to controversy or conflicts of interest.
For instance, the Blackwater security firm donated between $10,001 to $25,000. The Associated Press notes the company is “at risk of losing its lucrative government contract to protect US diplomats in Iraq.”
The Internet company Yahoo, as well as its top executives Jerry Yang, Frank Biondi, and Terry Semel donated as well. The Associated Press comments that the company has been “involved in disputes over surrendering Internet information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of dissidents there.”
Also, Victor Dahdaleh gave between $1 million to $5 million. He is a Canadian investor involved in aluminum production. He has been sued for fraud and bribery by a Bahrain aluminum company, and the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation about it. (The Associated Press, 1/18/2009) Dahdaleh will be acquitted in the legal case in 2013. But he will be implicated in a different financial scandal in 2016. (Yahoo Finance, 5/25/2016)
Under pressure from the White House to avoid a conflict of interest with Hillary Clinton’s new position as secretary of state, former US President Bill Clinton agrees to step away from direct involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a yearly fundraising conference. He will continue serving as CGI’s chairperson, but will not solicit money or sponsorships. Additionally, CGI will cease accepting foreign contributions and will not host events outside the US. (The Associated Press, 1/18/2009)
Clinton declares in her Senate confirmation proceeding that she and former President Bill Clinton are “committed to ensuring that his work does not present a conflict of interest with the duties of secretary of state.” She vows “to protect against even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his work and the duties of the secretary of state.” She adds that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.” Senate Richard Lugar (R) says, “Foreign governments and entities may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the secretary of state,” and he urges the foundation to reject all donations from them. (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)
However, most senators are assured by the memorandum of understanding recently signed between the foundation and the White House that addresses conflict of interest issues, even though it will only prevent increases in donations from foreign governments. Senator John Kerry (D) is one of those who express concern that the agreement doesn’t go far enough, but he votes for her anyway. On January 21, 2009, Clinton’s nomination is confirmed by the Senate 94 to 2. (The Associated Press, 1/15/2009) (The New York Times, 1/21/2009)
She resigns as senator from New York at the same time. She was confirmed by the Senate earlier the same day.
She will serve for all of President Obama’s first term, until February 2013. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
Her server was installed in her house in Chappaqua, New York, and it continues to reside there. Her IT [Information Technology] expert Bryan Pagliano has been in charge of running it since 2008 as well, and continues to do so.
Yet the Washington Post will later report, “Four computer-security specialists interviewed by the Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.”
One of the specialists will comment, “For data of this sensitivity… we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
The New York Times will later note, “There appears to have been no prohibition on the exclusive use of a private server; it does not appear to be an option anyone had thought about.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) But the State Department requires that computers be officially certified as secure, and no evidence has emerged that Clinton’s server was given such a certification.
Additionally, the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) states, “Only department-issued or approved systems are authorized to connect to department enterprise networks.” (US Department of State)
One reason Clinton might want to use a private server is that the State Department computer systems at the time are widely considered inadequate and frustrating. One result of using a private server is that only a small fraction of emails used on the department’s systems will be permanently archived. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)
According to a September 2015 letter from Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, “Secretary Clinton did not use a classified email account at the State Department. An account was set up on ClassNet on her calendar, but it was not used.”
ClassNet involves State Department workstations designed to allow employees to view classified information. (The Daily Caller, 2/23/2016)
In 2015, Clinton’s website will address how she read classified information: “The Secretary’s office was located in a secure area. Classified information was viewed in hard copy by Clinton while in the office. While on travel, the State Department had rigorous protocols for her and traveling staff to receive and transmit information of all types.” (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015)
A September 2016 FBI report will indicate that “some Clinton aides and senior-level State [Department] employees were aware Clinton used a personal email address for State business during her tenure [as secretary of state]. Clinton told the FBI it was common knowledge at State that she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails. However, some State employees interviewed by the FBI explained that emails from Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.”
The report also notes, “The majority of the State employees interviewed by the FBI who were in email contact with Clinton indicated they had no knowledge of the private server in her Chappaqua residence.”
Even Clinton’s closest aides like her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will claim they didn’t know, though there is evidence that suggests otherwise (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
While Clinton is secretary of state, she has an office on the seventh floor of State Department headquarters, in an area often referred to as “Mahogany Row.” Her office and the surrounding area is considered a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Mobile devices such as BlackBerrys are not allowed in SCIF rooms, because they can be taken over by hackers and used to record audio and video.
But according to a September 2016 FBI report, “Interviews of three former DS [Diplomatic Security] agents revealed Clinton stored her personal BlackBerry in a desk drawer in a [Diplomatic Security] post which was located within the SCIF on Mahogany Row. State personnel were not authorized to bring their mobile devices into [the post], as it was located within the SCIF.”
However, according to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Clinton would leave the SCIF to use her BlackBerry, often visiting the eighth floor balcony to do so. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will later tell the FBI that he never received any complaints about Clinton using her BlackBerry inside the SCIF.
In contrast to the above evidence, in her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim that after her first month as secretary of state, she never brought her BlackBerry into the SCIF area at all, because she had been clearly told not to do that. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A September 2016 FBI report will mention that the FBI determined “hundreds of emails” were sent by Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and other State Department staffers to a member of Bill Clinton’s staff so he could print them out for Clinton. His name will be redacted, but he is almost certainly Oscar Flores, because the report will mention that he is a member of the US Navy Reserves, which Flores is at the time.
Some of these emails will later be determined to contain information classified at the “confidential” level, including six email chains forwarded by Abedin and one email chain forwarded by Clinton.
But the FBI will determine that Flores received a security clearance at the “secret” level on October 25, 2007 from the Defense Department. Furthermore, although Flores retires from the US Navy Reserves in September 2010, there is no indication his security clearance is deactivated at that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
This is according to a September 2016 FBI report. The report indicates that Clinton and her immediate staff were repeatedly “notified of foreign travel risks and were warned that digital threats began immediately upon landing in a foreign country, since connection of a mobile device to a local network provides opportunities for foreign adversaries to intercept voice and email transmissions.”
Additionally, the State Department has a Mobile Communications Team responsible for establishing secure mobile voice and data communications for Clinton and her team wherever they travel. But even so, Clinton and her staff frequently use their private and unsecure mobile devices and private email accounts while overseas.
The number of Clinton emails sent or received outside the US will be redacted in the FBI report. Although it will mention that “hundreds” were classified at the “confidential” level, additional details are redacted. Nearly all mentions of “top secret” emails are redacted in the report, so it’s impossible to know if any of those are sent while Clinton is overseas.
The report will mention that some emails between Clinton and President Obama are sent while Clinton is overseas. However, the exact number will be redacted. None of these overseas emails between them will be deemed to contain classified information. According to the report, “Clinton told the FBI that she received no particular guidance as to how she should use President Obama’s email address…”
The details of the FBI’s report on Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview will indicate that Clinton emailed Obama on July 1, 2012 from Russia. However, it is not clear if she sent the email from on the ground or on a plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)