October 15, 2011: Blumenthal sends Clinton a totally inaccurate “intelligence” email about Libya.

Seymour Hersh (Credit: UC Berkeley News)

Seymour Hersh (Credit: UC Berkeley News)

Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal sends Clinton an email claiming that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi is hiding in the neighboring country of Chad and is about to be interviewed by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. He attributes the information to “a close friend of Hersh.”

This turns out to be entirely wrong—el-Qaddafi is killed five days later in Libya. In 2015, Hersh will be asked about this and says he has no idea what Blumenthal was talking about.

Bloomberg News will later comment, “The email adds to the impression that the intelligence reports that Blumenthal was sending to Clinton about the situation inside Libya—and that she was distributing for comment to top State Department officials—were based on often flimsy or outright erroneous information.”

The email will not be included in the over 30,000 emails Clinton turns over, but is one that Blumenthal gives to the House Benghazi Committee.

It is unknown what Clinton’s response is, if any. (Bloomberg News, 6/17/2015(Bloomberg News, 6/17/2015)

October 10, 2012: Blumenthal appears to be secretly working with the State Department to influence the media’s portrayal of Clinton and the department on Benghazi.

Media Matters Logo (Credit: public domain)

Media Matters Logo (Credit: public domain)

Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the message, “Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear. Philippe can circulate these links. Sid.” The email also includes links to four recent Media Matters stories questioning aspects of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation of the government’s response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that is very critical of Clinton and her State Department. For instance, one of the stories, published the same day Blumenthal’s email is written, has the title: “Right-Wing Media’s Libya Consulate Security Mythology Falls Apart.”

None of the articles have a Blumenthal by-line, but his “got this done” comment suggests he is somehow involved in making them. Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who will later head Clinton’s main Super PAC for her 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton replies with the message “Passing on,” and forwards the email to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, as Blumenthal requested. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 9/26/2012) (Media Matters, 10/9/2012)

In June 2015, Blumenthal will reveal under oath that he was paid around $200,000 a year by Media Matters for a part-time consulting beginning in late 2012, or around the time of this email. (Fox News, 6/19/2015) (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016)

In early 2009, President Obama banned Clinton from giving Blumenthal a State Department job, but this email suggests the ban was not entirely effective.

Late 2012: Blumenthal starts getting paid an “eye-popping” salary for part-time work at Clinton-affiliated organizations.

American Bridge Logo (Credit: public domain)

American Bridge Logo (Credit: public domain)

When Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal will be questioned by the House Benghazi Committee in June 2015, he will reveal that in addition to the $120,000 a year he is paid for working at the Clinton Foundation, starting at “the very end of 2012,” he is also paid about $200,000 a year consulting part-time for Media Matters and related organizations. He will also say at the time of the interview that he is still being paid that much or even more.

Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who also will run Clinton’s main Super PAC in her 2016 presidential campaign. Additionally, Blumenthal will say he works for Correct the Record, American Bridge, and American Independent Institute, which also are pro-Clinton organizations run by Brock.

In June 2016, when this information is publicly revealed by accident in a document released by Congressional Democrats, the Los Angeles Times will call Blumenthal’s part-time salary an “eye-popping amount of money” which “exposes once again the absurd amounts of money people in the orbit of the Clintons sometimes seem to rake in just for, well, being in the orbit of the Clintons.” (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016) (Fox News, 6/19/2015)

May 8, 2014: The House Benghazi Committee is formed, in order to investigate the US government’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Representative Trey Gowdy (Credit: Crooks and Liars)

Representative Trey Gowdy (Credit: Crooks and Liars)

House Speaker John Boehner (R) formally announces its formation. Representative Trey Gowdy (R) is named the head investigator. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) The committee is dominated by Republicans and will be frequently accused of having a partisan agenda to criticize Clinton and other Democrats.

Shortly After May 8, 2014: The State Department looks for Clinton’s emails, but only find a few, all belonging to a private email account.

The newly formed House Benghazi Committee asks the State Department to find any Clinton emails about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. State Department lawyers working to respond examine over 15,000 documents, but notice that there are no emails to or from any government account for Clinton. However, eight emails are found that are addressed to hdr22@clinttonemail.com—Clinton’s private email account. (Initial media reports will mention this process begins in July 2014, but a department report will later determine it begins in May 2014.)

One unnamed official involved will later comment, “This all raised the question to us: what else are we missing, and what do we need to comply (with the request.)” (The New York Times, 3/5/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 3/19/2015) (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

July 2014: Some State Department officials figure out that Clinton used a private email on a private server for all her secretary of state work; they informally ask her for her emails.

Secretary of State John Kerry (Credit: public domain)

Secretary of State John Kerry (Credit: public domain)

This realization comes due to a request for her emails by the House Benghazi Committee. Current Secretary of State John Kerry resolves to find the Clinton emails as soon as possible, and department officials privately reach out to Clinton’s staff starting that same month.

An email from Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills to Kerry’s chief of staff David Wade on August 22, 2014 shows the request for Clinton’s emails begins in July. In the email, with the subject “following up,” Mills writes, “I wanted to follow up on your request last month about getting hard copies of Secretary Clinton’s emails to/from accounts ending in ‘.gov’ for her tenure at the Department. I will be able to get that to you, to the best of its availability. Given the volume, it will take some time to do but I wanted to let you know that I am working to get it to you.”

However, the Department will be forced to make a formal request for the emails in late October 2014 after none of them have been handed over. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The New York Times, 3/5/2015) (Politico, 2/16/2016)

July 23, 2014: The House Benghazi Committee reaches an agreement relating to the production of Clinton’s emails.

The committee reaches an agreement with the State Department “regarding the production of records.” This will be mentioned in a September 2016 FBI report in the context of Clinton’s emails. However, further details are not known. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

November 18, 2014: The House Benghazi Committee makes an additional request for emails to and from Clinton and ten of her senior staff at the State Department.

The House Benghazi Committee in session in 2015. (Credit: C-SPAN3)

The House Benghazi Committee in session in 2015. (Credit: C-SPAN3)

They request all the emails relating to Libya, and/or the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. (House Benghazi Committee, 3/4/2015)

December 2, 2014: The House Benghazi Committee asks Clinton for all Benghazi-related emails from her personal email address.

Gowdy shakes hands with Clinton after she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. (Credit: CNN)

Gowdy shakes hands with Clinton after she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. (Credit: CNN)

Representative Trey Gowdy (R) sends a letter to Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall on behalf of the House Benghazi Committee, which he chairs. In the letter, he cites over a dozen examples of emails from Clinton’s private clintonemail.com email address relating to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that have been recently uncovered. He suggests there are probably many more relevant emails still to be discovered. He also notes evidence that Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin has a clintonemail.com email address.

The letter concludes with a formal request for all emails relevant to the Benghazi attack from Clinton’s clintonemail.com address from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012, to be turned over by December 31, 2014. (US Department of State, 2/4/2016)

Clinton will give the State Department over 30,000 emails just three days later, but these will not yet be available to the House Benghazi Committee. The committee will not get the Benghazi-related emails until February 13, 2015, and they will be sent from the State Department, not from Clinton’s lawyer.

Shortly After January 5, 2015: It can be deduced that the 31,830 emails that Clinton chose to delete may actually be deleted around this time.

David Kendall (Credit: The National Law Journal)

David Kendall (Credit: The National Law Journal)

Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall later claims that after Clinton turned over the 30,490 emails she deemed work-related, which took place on December 5, 2014, the settings on her private server were changed so that any email not sent within 60 days would be automatically deleted. But some news reports say the setting was for 30 days instead. If this is true, the deletions must take place after January 5, 2015, or February 5, 2015, depending on which setting is actually in place.

On March 4, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee issues a subpoena ordering Clinton to turn over any material related to Libya and/or Benghazi, which followed a more limited request in November 2014.

Trey Gowdy (R), head of the committee, will complain later in March 2015, “Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server, ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest. […] The fact that she apparently deleted some emails after Congress initially requested documents raises serious concerns.”

Clinton’s staff has argued that all the emails relating to Libya and/or Benghazi have been turned over already. (The New York Times, 3/27/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 3/19/2015) (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)

A September 2016 FBI will reveal that the deletion of Clinton’s emails from her private server won’t actually take place until late March 2015. And while the employee is supposed to change the email retention policy so some of her emails will be deleted 60 days later, he actually will delete all of her emails and then use a computer program to wipe them so they won’t be recovered later. Why this happens is still unclear. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 13, 2015: The State Department sends the House Benghazi Committee about 300 of Clinton’s emails relating to Libya.

However, they do not provide other documents in response to the committee’s broader November 2014 request for all Libya-related emails to and from Clinton and her senior staff. (House Benghazi Committee, 5/8/2015) (The New York Times, 3/2/2015)

February 27, 2015: State Department staffers tell House Benghazi Committee aides that Clinton never had a government email address while she was secretary of state.

Instead, she used her private email account exclusively, and the State Department doesn’t have any of her emails other than those she provided voluntarily. This story will publicly break in the New York Times on March 2, 2015. (Reuters, 3/15/2015) (The New York Times, 3/2/2015) (National Archives and Records Administration, 3/31/2015)

March 4, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee privately issues two subpoenas to Clinton for her emails.

One is for all emails from Clinton’s personal account relating to Libya or the Benghazi terrorist attack. The committee had already received about 300 such emails from the State Department in February 2015. But on March 2, 2015, a New York Times article revealed that Clinton exclusively used a private email account hosted on her own private server, so the State Department may not have some of her emails.

Thus, the committee issues a subpoena directly to Clinton and her lawyers to see if more of her emails can be uncovered. The subpoena orders Clinton to produce emails from hdr22@clintonemail.com. hrodl7@clintonemail.com, and any other email addresses she may have used while secretary of state, relating to the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The other subpoena to Clinton is for documents it requested in November 2014 but still has not received from the State Department, relating to communications between Clinton and ten senior department officials. (House Benghazi Committee, 3/4/2015) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

One day earlier, the committee asked Clinton for all of her emails. But this was only a request, not a subpoena.

Also on March 4, 2015, Clinton does not disclose the subpoenas, but tweets, “I want the public to see my email. I asked [the] State [Department] to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) All of Clinton’s work emails will only be released after a judge orders the State Department to do so. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 5, 2015: The White House legal counsel’s office didn’t know Clinton only used a personal email account.

Additionally, the office only found out as part of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation, which began in mid-2014. This is according to an unnamed person “familiar with the matter.”

According to the Associated Press, “The person said Clinton’s exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation’s top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to [departments] that official business should be conducted on official email accounts.” Once it became clear she wasn’t following proper practices, the counsel’s office asked the State Department to ensure her work-related emails were properly archived. But this person does not specify when that happened exactly. (The Associated Press, 3/5/2015)

March 9, 2015: An email from Cheryl Mills warns a Platte River Networks employee that Clinton’s emails should be preserved, but he will delete them all later in the month anyway.

Cheryl Mills, who is one of Clinton’s lawyers at the time, as well as being her former chief of staff, sends an email to some employees at Platte River Networks (PRN), the company that is managing Clinton’s private server. On March 3, 2015, the House Benghazi Committee sent a letter to Clinton’s lawyers, asking that they preserve all of Clinton’s emails. This is because of a New York Times report the day before that indicated Clinton probably had many emails from when she was secretary of state that the State Department did not. Mills’ email to PRN references this preservation request.

150303PlatteRiverNewOfficePRFB

In March 2015, PRN is preparing to move from a small downtown loft in Denver, to a more spacious 12,000 sq. foot office space. (Credit: Platte River Networks / Facebook)

PRN employee Paul Combetta is one of the recipients of this email from Mills. In a February 18, 2016 FBI interview, he will claim that he didn’t recall seeing the preservation request mentioned in the email. But he will be interviewed by the FBI again, on May 3, 2016. At that time, he will indicate that he deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails from her server in late March 2015, despite the fact that, according to an FBI report, “he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on [Clinton’s] server.”

It is not clear why he will do this. He will also state during his second interview, “he did not receive guidance from other PRN personnel, PRN’s legal counsel, or others regarding the meaning of the preservation request.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 14, 2015: The State Department tips off the Clinton campaign that a New York Times reporter is asking about Clinton’s emails.

Michael Schmidt (Credit: public domain)

Michael Schmidt (Credit: public domain)

Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill writes in an email to Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri and Robby Mook: “[The] State [Department] just called to tell me that [New York Times reporter Michael] Schmidt seems to have what appear to be summaries of some of the exchanges in the 300 emails the [House Benghazi] committee has. He shared 2 anecdotes with State, one was an exchange that [Clinton] had with Jake [Sullivan] about some of the media stories following the attacks, the other an exchange that [Clinton] had with [Clinton aide Cheryl Mills] and [Clinton aide] Huma [Abedin] on non-state.gov accounts, but that was later forwarded to a state.gov account. Again, it appears that he does not have the email but that someone, likely from the committee, is slipping him cherry-picked characterizations of the exchanges. I haven’t heard directly from Schmidt yet but will circle back when I do.”

Top Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri (left), Huma Abedin (center), and Robby Mook attend a campaign rally with Clinton in 2016. (Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters)

Top Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri (left), Huma Abedin (center), and Robby Mook attend a campaign rally with Clinton in 2016. (Credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters)

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri replies, “This is no bueno [no good]. This is some kind of bullshit. Adding [Clinton campaign chair] John [Podesta] to this chain. If [Representative Trey] Gowdy is doing selective leaks, we are in very different kind of warfare.” (WikiLeaks, 10/29/2016)

Schmidt broke a March 2, 2015 story that Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state. The State Department gave about 300 emails to the House Benghazi Committee, chaired by Gowdy (R).

Presumably, Palmieri is upset that someone is leaking emails to a reporter, not that the State Department is sharing this information about the leak with the Clinton campaign. The department will later claim it never worked to help Clinton with her email controversy, despite emails such as this one.

The email will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016.

March 20, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee formally requests that Clinton turn over her private email server.

In a letter to Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall, the committee says Clinton should give her server to the State Department’s inspector general or to a neutral party in order to determine which of her emails were work-related and which ones were personal. (The New York Times, 3/20/2015) Several day later, Kendall replies that turning over the server would be pointless since no emails remain on it. (The New York Times, 3/31/2015)

Clinton will keep her server until a copy is given to the FBI in August 2015. It will later be reported that the FBI recovers most if not all of the deleted emails on the server.

March 23, 2015: Clinton meets Obama at the White House, their first meeting since Clinton’s email controversy began.

Clinton tweets a photo of her meeting with President Obama in the White House Situation Room, with Josh Earnest in the background, and unknown (right), on March 23, 2015. (Credit: Hillary Clinton / Twitter)

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)

President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

President Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Oval Office. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

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.

March 27, 2015: Clinton is not willing to hand over her private server to see if emails were improperly deleted.

Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall reveals this in a letter to the House Benghazi Committee. On March 20, 2015, the committee had suggested that an independent party could review it to see if any work-related emails remained. Kendall states, “There is no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server… To avoid prolonging a discussion that would be academic, I have confirmed with the secretary’s IT [information technology] support that no emails… for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 reside on the server or on any back-up systems associated with the server.” (Politico, 3/27/2015) 

Clinton will give the server to the FBI in August 2015. (The Washington Post, 8/12/2015) One month later, it will be reported that deleted emails have been recovered from the server, and some of them are work-related. (Bloomberg News, 9/2/2015)

May 22, 2015: Blumenthal “may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton.”

Bloomberg News comments, “The extent to which [Sid] Blumenthal may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton as secretary of state has been an emerging line of inquiry” for the House Benghazi Committee. Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance who nonetheless sent Clinton hundreds of emails containing intelligence information, including classified information. (Bloomberg News, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015: The first batch of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state are made public by the State Department.

This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015—June 15, 2015: The State Department asks Clinton’s lawyer for electronic copies of all of Clinton’s emails, but also asks him to delete all copies of one particular email.

Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy sends a letter to David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer. In December 2014, Clinton gave the State Department paper copies of the over 30,000 emails she turned over at that time. But now, Kennedy also asks for electronic copies of them all (which contain metadata and can be more easily searched). However, one email publicly released on May 22 is classified at the “secret” level, which is the middle classification level. The email was sent to Clinton on November 18, 2012, and has the subject heading “FYI- Report of arrests — possible Benghazi connection.”

Kennedy specifically asks Kendall to delete all electronic copies of that email and give the State Department any remaining hard copies of it. Presumably this is due to concerns that the email might not be properly secured and/or Kendall might not have the security clearance to possess it.

On June 15, Kendall responds that he has followed Kennedy’s instructions except that he has been ordered by the House Benghazi Committee to keep electronic copies of all of Clinton’s emails, so he did not delete that one “secret” email. (Judicial Watch, 9/15/2015)

June 16, 2015: Blumenthal refuses to take ownership of the sometimes inaccurate intelligence in his emails to Clinton.

In private testimony before the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal is asked about the accuracy of the frequent intelligence emails he sent Clinton. Bloomberg News reports: “Blumenthal repeatedly refused to take any ownership of the information in the emails. He told the committee he was just passing on information to Clinton…”

According to one lawmaker attending the hearing, Blumenthal is asked about an October 15, 2011 email he sent to Clinton claiming that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi was hiding in the neighboring country of Chad and was about to be interviewed by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh, when in fact el-Qaddafi was still in Libya and died there five days later. Blumenthal is asked, “Did it turn out to be true?” He responds, “I don’t know,” despite the email clearly being untrue.

Committee Chair Trey Gowdy comments to reporters afterwards, “I am interested in the reliability of the information being presented to our top diplomat, and the reality is, having been in the room all day, [Blumenthal] has absolutely no idea whether the information is credible or not.” (Bloomberg News, 6/17/2015)

June 16, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee deposes Sid Blumenthal behind closed doors.

Sid Blumenthal on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on June 16, 2015. (Credit: Reuters)

Sid Blumenthal on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on June 16, 2015. (Credit: Reuters)

Blumenthal is a Clinton confidant, journalist, and Clinton Foundation employee. He gives the committee nearly 60 emails between him and Clinton about Benghazi and/or Libya that the committee didn’t have before. (CBS News, 6/16/2015) The emails will be publicly released one week later.

However, Committee head Trey Gowdy (R) will reject a request from the Committee’s Democrats and Blumenthal’s attorney to release a transcript of Blumenthal’s nearly nine-hour long testimony. Gowdy will say, “Releasing transcripts can impact the recollections of other witnesses, jeopardize the efficacy of the investigation, alert witnesses to lines of inquiry best not made public, and publicize personal information.” (The Hill, 6/22/2015)

June 16, 2015: Blumenthal was passing unvetted intelligence from a retired CIA official directly to Clinton.

The Osprey Global Solutions logo (Credit: Osprey Global Solutions)

The Osprey Global Solutions logo (Credit: Osprey Global Solutions)

Although Sid Blumenthal testifies before the House Benghazi Committee in a secret session, a Politico article later on the same day as his testimony reveals some of what he says.

Blumenthal, a journalist and private citizen with no security clearance, frequently wrote emails to Clinton that contained detailed intelligence assessments from various parts of the world, especially Libya. Blumenthal reportedly tells the committee that he doesn’t write or even know the ultimate source of any of his Libyan intelligence he sent to Clinton. Instead, he was copying and pasting memos from Tyler Drumheller, a former CIA operative. Blumenthal and Drumheller were involved in a Libya-related business opportunity called Osprey Global Solutions.

Trey Gowdy (R), head of the committee, says, “One of the folks providing [Clinton] the largest volume of information was simply and merely a conduit of someone who may have had business interest in Libya. We have a CIA, so why would you not rely on your own vetted source intelligence agency? In this case, there was no vetting, no analysis of credibility whatsoever.”

Blumenthal claims his advice was unsolicited and he wasn’t being paid for passing on the information. Committee investigators say Blumenthal’s emails about Libya make up more than a third of all of Clinton’s Libya-related emails.

And although Blumenthal was being paid $120,000 a year as an adviser to The Clinton Foundation, he says his salary there “had nothing whatsoever to do with my emails to my friend” Clinton. He also claims the Libyan business venture with Drumheller was a “humanitarian-assistance idea for medical care in which I had little involvement, never got off the ground, in which no money was ever exchanged, no favor sought and which had nothing to do with my sending these emails.” (Politico, 6/16/2015) 

Drumheller will die of pancreatic cancer on August 2, 2015, a month and a half later. It’s unclear if he’s questioned by investigators before his death. If Blumenthal got most or all of his intelligence from Drumheller, it’s unclear where Drumheller got it from, since his 25-year CIA career ended in 2005. (The Washington Post, 8/16/2015)

June 22, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee releases nearly 60 emails between Clinton and Sid Blumenthal related to Libyan policy.

The committee says the emails should have been provided to them by Clinton but weren’t. (The Hill, 6/22/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 6/22/2015) Ten emails and parts of five others from Blumenthal are work-related but weren’t included when Clinton claims she handed over all of her work-related emails in December 2014. (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)

Late June 2015: A State Department official claims to have no knowledge of Clinton’s private server, but later evidence will suggest otherwise.

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

John Bentel, director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office while Clinton was secretary of state, is questioned behind closed doors by the House Benghazi Committee. According to a later account by his lawyer Randy Turk, Bentel testifies he has “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server and only learned about it from the newspapers in March 2015.

In early 2016, he will refuse to speak to Congressional investigators and then refuse to speak to a State Department inspector general’s investigators. But the inspector general’s report released in May 2016 will uncover emails and other witness accounts suggesting Bentel did know about her private server and that he stopped his staffers from taking action to keep Clinton’s email practices within the law. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

August 11, 2015: The State Department won’t reveal which Clinton aides used her private server or other non-government accounts.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

In March 2015, the House Benghazi Committee subpoenaed records, including work-related emails from personal accounts, from ten former Clinton aides, for a two-year period surrounding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. The State Department then asked those ten people for their records. It is known that four of the aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—have turned over records, including from personal email accounts. However, it is not known what happened with the other six, or even who they are.

Clinton wrote in a sworn affidavit on August 6, 2015 that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s private server and that Mills did not. Otherwise, department officials and Clinton’s staff have failed to reveal who else had an email account on Clinton’s server or even which other aides had any kind of personal email account.

The Intelligence Community inspector general’s office says it is not currently involved in any inquiry into Clinton’s former top aides because it is being denied full access to the aides’ emails by the State Department.

The media outlet Gawker is suing for access to Reines’ emails. Bradley Moss, a lawyer for Gawker, says: “I think the headline is that there’s nothing but murkiness and non-answers from the State Department. I think the State Department is figuring this out as it goes along, which is exactly why no one should be using personal email to conduct government business.”  (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)

September 3, 2015: Former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills testifies to the House Benghazi Committee in a private session.

Cheryl Mills (front) with Representative Trey Gowdy (second from left), and Representative Elijah Cummings (left), on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Susan Walsh / The Associated Press)

Cheryl Mills (front) with Representative Trey Gowdy (second from left), and Representative Elijah Cummings (left), on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Susan Walsh / The Associated Press)

It is reported that much of her testimony focuses on how over half of Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state were deleted, since Mills was part of the process. (Politico, 9/4/2015)

  • Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal recently gave some of his work-related email correspondence with Clinton to the committee, and all or part of 15 of them had not been handed over by Clinton, despite Clinton’s claim that she had turned over all her work-related emails. Mills could not explain how those had been missed.
  • Mills also says she was not involved in setting up Clinton’s private server, nor was she part of the decision to move it to the care of the Platte River Networks company in mid-2013.
  • She also says that she “overwhelmingly” used a State Department email for work, but she admits she did use her private email account when she was at home or overseas. (Politico, 9/3/2015)
  • She claims that many people at the State Department knew Clinton was using a personal email account for her government work.
  • She says that neither she nor Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall had personally gone through Clinton’s over 60,000 emails to determine which to hand over and which to delete. Instead, a member of their legal staff who was reporting to them did it. (This is a likely reference to lawyer Heather Samuelson.) (The New York Times, 9/3/2015)

September 4, 2015: Former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan testifies to the House Benghazi Committee in a private session.

Jake Sullivan on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on September 4, 2015. (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Jake Sullivan on his way to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on September 4, 2015. (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

He tells reporters afterwards that he answered all questions for nine hours, but does not go into details. (ABC News, 9/4/2015)

September 10, 2015: Clinton’s computer technician refuses to testify to Congressional investigators.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: Bloomberg News / Getty Images)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: Bloomberg News / Getty Images)

Clinton’s former private server manager Bryan Pagliano invokes his Fifth Amendment rights and refuses to speak in a private meeting before the House Benghazi Committee. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/2015)  His unwillingness to cooperate was first reported on September 2, 2015. (The New York Times, 9/2/2015)

Pagliano begins secretly cooperating with the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails in the fall of 2015, though it’s not clear if it is before or after this meeting. He describes how he set up the private server in Clinton’s house and gives the FBI the server’s security logs. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)

September 25, 2015: A more thorough search results in the discovery of more Libya-related Clinton emails.

A stack of printed versions of 795 of Clinton emails, presented to the public by the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

A stack of printed versions of 795 of Clinton emails, presented to the public by the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

The State Department says it is sending the House Benghazi Committee 925 more Clinton emails relating to Benghazi and/or Libya that were not previously turned over. The vast majority relate to Libya in general while an unknown but “small number” of them directly relate to Benghazi. Originally, the department only had hard copies of all her emails. But then they were digitized, allowing a second search through them that got more results. (The Daily Beast, 9/25/2015)

September 29, 2015:: Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says that the House Benghazi Committee is part of a Republican “strategy to fight and win.”

Senator Kevin McCarthy (Credit: The Harvard Institute of Politics)

Senator Kevin McCarthy (Credit: The Harvard Institute of Politics)

In an interview, he adds, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.” McCarthy’s comments are notable since he is a Republican and the committee is run by Republicans. (The Washington Post, 9/30/2015)

October 7, 2015: The New York Times’ Editorial Board writes an editorial: “Shut Down the Benghazi Committee.”

The editorial calls the Republican-led committee investigation a “laughable crusade,” and suggests it should be renamed “the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” (The New York Times, 10/7/2015)

October 7, 2015—October 18, 2015: Claims that a Clinton email revealed the name of a CIA asset could be incorrect.

Representative Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

Representative Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

On October 7, 2015, Representative Trey Gowdy (R), the chair of the House Benghazi Committee, releases an excerpt of a Clinton email that he claims shows Clinton mentioned the identity of a top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intelligence source in Libya. The March 18, 2011, email between Clinton and Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal states, “Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted due to sources and methods].” “Tyler” is Tyler Drumheller, a CIA operative until 2005.

Gowdy claims the redaction in that sentence is “the name of a human source.” He adds, “Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague—debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address.” (Yahoo, 10/8/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 10/7/2015) 

However, eleven days later, Newsweek reports that CIA has informed the committee that it reviewed 127 emails between Clinton and Sid Blumenthal, including that one, and none of them were deemed classified. Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, criticizes Gowdy for making inaccurate claims: “The problem with your accusation, as with so many others during this investigation, is that you failed to check your facts before you made it, and the CIA has now informed the [Benghazi] Committee that you were wrong.” (Newsweek, 10/18/2015

It does not appear the committee has released more text of the email in question since.

October 15, 2015: A Republican Congressperson calls the House Benghazi Committee biased against Clinton.

Representative Richard Hanna (Credit: Congressional Pictorial Directory)

Representative Richard Hanna (Credit: Congressional Pictorial Directory)

Representative Richard Hanna says, “This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people—an individual: Hillary Clinton.” His comments are notable because Hanna is Republican and the committee is run by Republicans. (The Syracuse Post-Standard, 10/15/2015)

October 16, 2015: Clinton had access to a secure cell phone when she traveled, but usually used her unsecure BlackBerry instead.

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Clinton’s State Department jet offered phone lines for secure and non secure calls. (Credit: CNN)

While interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin reveals that when Clinton traveled a secure cell phone usually traveled with her. “We didn’t need to use it very often because she was always within close enough proximity with an actual hard line secure phone, but now that you’ve asked me, I actually do remember that on occasion there was a secure cell phone.” She ends up admitting that Clinton traveled with the phone most of the time. Sometimes it was carried by Abedin, and sometimes by other Clinton aides. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)

 

October 16, 2015: Clinton had trouble with her secure fax machines. so she only used them “very little.”

Huma Abedin, center, a longtime aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, returns to a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, after a break in hearing testimony during a closed-door hearing of the House Benghazi Committee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Huma Abedin (center) enters a hearing held by the House Benghazi Committee on October 16, 2015. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)

While interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin says that Clinton “absolutely used the secure phones” installed in her houses in Washington, DC, and Chappaqua, New York. However, “The secure fax was deployed very little, mostly because we often had technical challenges receiving the faxes. She sometimes struggled with the equipment and…”

Abedin is interrupted with a recollection of an email in which she wrote, “Don’t ever use the fax machine.”

Abedin replies, “Yes. It was so maddening to try and execute it without there being some challenge, so, you know, secure faxes, we pretty quickly gave up on. And when she was in Washington, it was very convenient to have a pouch delivered. She often had a pouch delivered anyway. She lived in very close proximity to the State Department so we would just ask those documents to be included in the pouch.” Documents were delivered by courier to Clinton in Chappaqua as well. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)

October 16, 2015: Huma Abedin is interviewed under oath; she claims she knew Clinton exclusively used a private email address, but very few other State Department officials did.

Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin is interviewed under oath by the House Benghazi Committee. She makes the following claims in her testimony:

Huma Abedin arrives to testify at a hearing before the House Benghazi Committee on Oct. 16, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loee / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Huma Abedin arrives to testify at a hearing before the House Benghazi Committee on Oct. 16, 2015. (Credit: Saul Loee / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

  • While she was at the State Department she was aware that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account for all her email communications. However, although many higher-ups in the State Department know Clinton used a personal email account, none of them knew that she used it exclusively.
  • Asked if she ever had any conversation with Clinton “about using personal email versus official email” prior to Clinton becoming secretary of state, Abedin replies, “It doesn’t mean it’s out of the realm of possibility, but I don’t recall any specific conversations with her.”
  • When asked if she was aware that Clinton’s email account was maintained on a private server, she replies, “I know it was an email address that was provided by the IT [information technology] person in President Clinton’s office. [She later identifies this as Justin Cooper.] I’m not certain that I was aware of what server it was on or not on.” However, she says she was “absolutely” certain it wasn’t on a State Department server.
  • She had three email accounts: a state.gov one, a Yahoo mail one, and a clintonemail.com one.
  • Anyone who asked for Clinton’s private email address was given it, and she doesn’t recall a time when a person was denied it.
  • 151016BlumenthalClintonWars

    Sidney Blumenthal’s memoir of his four years as a presidential assistant to Bill Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

    She knew Sid Blumenthal well from her earlier work under the Clintons going back to when Bill Clinton was president, she never saw him at the State Department and didn’t have communication with him by phone or email. She was only dimly aware of how often he emailed Clinton because she would print out his emails for Clinton sometimes.

  • She had a “top secret” security clearance while she worked at the State Department but it lapsed shortly after she left the department in early 2013 and she doesn’t have one anymore. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/16/2015)

 

October 21, 2015: Democrats on the House Benghazi Committee release the closed door testimony of Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills.

Her testimony took place on September 3, 2015. Only minor redactions are made. They do this without the permission of the Republicans heading the committee, claiming they were forced to do it “in order to correct the public record after numerous out-of-context and misleading Republican leaks.” This comes just one day before Clinton is due to testify in public before the committee. (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015) (House Benghazi Committee, 10/21/2015)

October 22, 2015: Clinton incorrectly claims under oath that her lawyers “went through every single email” before deleting some.

Representative Jim Jordan (Credit: public domain)

Representative Jim Jordan (Credit: public domain)

During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks Clinton questions about how her emails from her tenure as secretary of state were sorted and some of them deleted in late 2014. He asks, “You have stated that you used a multi-step process to determine which ones were private, which ones were public, which ones belonged to you and your family, which ones belonged to the taxpayer. Who oversaw this multi-step process in making that determination which ones we might get and which ones that were personal?”

Clinton replies, “That was overseen by my attorneys and they conducted a rigorous review of my emails…”

Jordan visually identifies the three lawyers who were known to be involved in the sorting process — David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson — because they are sitting right behind Clinton in the hearing, and Clinton confirms those are the ones. He then asks Clinton what she means by “rigorous.”

Sitting behind Clinton at the Benghazi committee hearing are, starting left in order of appearance, Heather Samuelson, Jake Sullivan, (unidentified man), Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall. (Credit: Getty Images)

Sitting behind Clinton at the Benghazi committee hearing are, starting left in order of appearance, Heather Samuelson, Jake Sullivan, Phil Schiliro, Cheryl Mills, Katherine Turner and David Kendall. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton explains, “It means that they were asked to provide anything that could be possibly construed as work related. In fact, in my opinion — and that’s been confirmed by both the State Department…”

Jordan interrupts, “But I’m asking how — I’m asking how it was done. Was — did someone physically look at the 62,000 emails, or did you use search terms, date parameters? I want to know the specifics.”

Clinton responds, “They did all of that, and I did not look over their shoulders, because I thought it would be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.”

Then Jordan asks, “Will you provide this committee — or can you answer today — what were the search terms?”

Clinton answers, “The search terms were everything you could imagine that might be related to anything, but they also went through every single email.”

When asked for more specifics, she says, “I asked my attorneys to oversee the process. I did not look over their shoulder. I did not dictate how they would do it. I did not ask what they were doing and how they made their determinations.”

After more questioning, Clinton refuses to mention any of the search terms.

Additionally, when asked if there were in fact two servers, she says there was just one.

She also says, “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”

Jordan concludes his questioning by asking, “If the FBI finds some of these emails that might be deleted, as they’re reviewing your server, will you agree to allow a neutral third party — like a retired federal judge — to review any emails deleted to determine if any of them are relevant to our investigation?”

She dodges giving an answer, despite being further pressed on the issue. (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

Trey Gowdy (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

Trey Gowdy (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse/ Getty Images)

On July 7, 2016, after concluding the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails, FBI Director James Comey will be questioned under oath by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?”

Comey will reply, “No.”

Gowdy will also ask, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”

Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”

Gowdy then will ask if it’s true she never sent or received information marked classified on her private email.

Comey will reply, “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.”

Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will ask Comey if the FBI has investigated the truthfulness of Clinton’s testimony under oath. After Comey says that would require a referral from Congress, Chaffetz will promise to get him one right away. (Politico, 7/7/2016)

October 22, 2015: Clinton publicly testifies before the House Benghazi Committee and answers questions for eleven hours.

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

The New York Times reports that “the long day of often-testy exchanges between committee members and their prominent witness revealed little new information about an episode that has been the subject of seven previous investigations… Perhaps stung by recent admissions that the pursuit of Mrs. Clinton’s emails was politically motivated, Republican lawmakers on the panel for the most part avoided any mention of her use of a private email server.”

The email issue is briefly discussed shortly before lunch, in “a shouting match” between Republican committee chair Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings.

Later in the hearing, Representative Jim Jordan (R) accuses Clinton of changing her explanations of the email service. That leads to a “heated exchange” in which Clinton “repeated that she had made a mistake in using a private email account, but maintained that she had never sent or received anything marked classified and had sought to be transparent by publicly releasing her emails.” (The New York Times, 10/22/2015) (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

 

October 22, 2016—October 23, 2015: Clinton falsely claims the vast majority of her emails were saved by the State Department.

Testifying before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015, Clinton argues that it doesn’t matter if she used a private email address because the State Department “had between 90 and 95 percent of all my work-related emails in the State Department system.”

When asked how she knows this, she says, “We learned that from the State Department and their analysis of the emails that were already on the system. We were trying to help them close some gaps that they had.” (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

However, the next day, the State Department says the number didn’t come from any State Department analysis but was created by the Clinton campaign. A State Department inspector general report from earlier in 2015 showed that far less than one percent of all emails were permanently preserved by the State Department.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker reviews Clinton’s statement and gives it three out of four “Pinocchios.” (The Washington Post, 11/9/2015)

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

151022JimJordanZach GibsonNYT

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

During Clinton’s testimony under oath before the House Benghazi Committee, Representative Jim Jordan (R) asks her about her private email server or servers. “[T]here was one server on your property in New York, and a second server hosted by a Colorado company in — housed in New Jersey. Is that right? There were two servers?”

Clinton replies, “No. … There was a… there was a server…”

“Just one?” Jordan presses.

Clinton continues, “…that was already being used by my husband’s [Bill Clinton’s] team. An existing system in our home that I used. And then later, again, my husband’s office decided that they wanted to change their arrangements, and that’s when they contracted with the company in Colorado,” Platte River Networks.

Jordan asks, “And so there’s only one server? Is that what you’re telling me? And it’s the one server that the FBI has?”

Clinton answers, “The FBI has the server that was used during the tenure of my State Department service.”

She dodges giving an answer, despite being further pressed on the issue. (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

However, in a public speech on July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey will reveal that Clinton “used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways… (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

Two days later, Comey will be questioned under oath in a Congressional hearing by Representative Trey Gowdy (R). Gowdy will refer to Clinton’s testimony on this day when he asks, “Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?”

Comey will answer, “She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state.”

Later in the hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) will promise to give the FBI a referral from Congress so the FBI can investigate the truthfulness of this and other comments Clinton made under oath. (Politico, 7/7/2016)

October 23, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee is reconsidering how aggressively to pursue Clinton’s email scandal.

Heather Samuelson (Credit: Getty Images)

Heather Samuelson (Credit: Getty Images)

The Republican-dominated committee is supposed to be focused on the US government’s response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, but they are changing their approach because they are being accused on overreach on the only sometimes related email issue in an attempt to politically damage Clinton. For instance, the committee had been planning to interview lawyer Heather Samuelson, who helped sort and delete Clinton’s emails, but now they change their mind.

Politico reports that Clinton’s public testimony before the committee the day before “was widely seen as a success for Clinton, while Republicans failed to strike any decisive blows. Meanwhile, Democrats amped up their claims that the entire investigation was a partisan witch hunt.” (Politico, 10/23/2015)

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

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

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

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

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

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

March 2, 2016–March 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could conclude by May 2016.

The New York Times reports, “A federal law enforcement official said that barring any unforeseen changes, the FBI investigation [into Clinton’s emails] could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom.”

In addition to the FBI investigation, there are continuing inquiries by the State Department inspector general, the Intelligence Community inspector general, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the House Benghazi Committee. There are also numerous on-going lawsuits that could reveal more information to the public. (The New York Times, 3/2/2016)

April 13, 2016: The Benghazi Committee’s final report is likely to come out in the middle of the 2016 general election.

It is reported that the House Benghazi Committee is working on its final report. Depending on how long a security review by US intelligence agencies takes, it is likely to be released between July and September 2016. That means the Republican-led committee will release a report widely expected to be critical of Clinton in the middle of a general presidential election season when Clinton could be the Democratic nominee.

In early 2015, Representative Trey Gowdy (R), head of the committee, said: “I want it done before 2016” and, “it’s not going to come out in the middle of 2016.” He blames a slow government response to turning over evidence for the delay. (The Washington Post, 4/13/2016)

The final report will be released on June 28, 2016.

May 25, 2016: The State Department’s inspector general issues a report that sharply criticizes Clinton’s email practices.

Cover of the Office of Inspector General's Report, May 25, 2016. (Credit: OIG)

Cover of the Office of Inspector General’s Report, May 25, 2016. (Credit: OIG)

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General releases a report with the title “Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements.” The 83-page report is the main headline at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, because it sheds new light on Clinton’s email scandal. The Post calls it “a highly critical analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private server and that agency staff members would not have given their blessing if it had been sought because of ‘security risks.’”

The report did not cover the classified content of some of Clinton’s emails due to the on-going FBI investigation and instead focuses mainly on record management issues for Clinton as well as the four previous secretaries of state. The office’s inquiry was initiated by a request from Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015, and was led by Inspector General Steve Linick, who was appointed by President Obama in 2013. The report reveals:

  • There were “long-standing systemic weaknesses” in the State Department’s recordkeeping. Department officials were “slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks” of widespread email use. This problem went “well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state,” but most of the report focuses on Clinton’s tenure.
  • Former secretary Colin Powell is singled out for violating department policy by using a personal email account while in office, as Clinton did. But the report notes that in the four years between the end of Powell’s tenure and the start of Clinton’s, the department’s warnings about the “obligation” to mainly use government email accounts for work matters had become more detailed and frequent.
  • Dozens of department employees sometimes used personal email accounts for work matters. But only three were discovered who used such accounts exclusively: Clinton, Powell, and Scott Gration, who was US ambassador to Kenya in 2011 and 2012. Gration faced an internal rebuke for doing so and was forced to resign. Clinton was the only one to use a private server as well.
  • Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with security and records management officials, but investigators “found no evidence” that she had requested or received approval from anyone to conduct work matters mainly by personal emails. Furthermore, department officials “did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.”
  • Similarly, Clinton had not sought permission to use a private email server, and would not have received it if she had.
  • Clinton was required to demonstrate to security and records management officials that both her server and her mobile devices “met minimum information security requirements,” but she never did so.
  • Clinton should have handed over copies of her work emails immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Failure to do so violated department policies and the Federal Records Act. Instead, she provided only some work emails, and those only in December 2014, nearly two years later, after the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee began asking for some of her emails.
  • A video image from MSNBC's coverage of the inspector general's report, on May 25, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

    A video image from MSNBC’s coverage of the inspector general’s report, on May 25, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

    Clinton has claimed she effectively left copies of her emails with the State Department because she mainly emailed other department officials. However, the report says that was an inappropriate form of preservation. Additionally, four of her closest aides, whom she exchanged emails with most often, also made “extensive” use of personal email accounts, so none of those emails would have been preserved in State Department records just by being received by those aides.

  • There was “some awareness” of Clinton’s email account among senior department officials. But there also appear to have been efforts to keep her use of a private server a secret. For instance, in 2010, when two department computer technicians raised concerns that her server might not properly preserve records, a higher official told them her setup had been reviewed by lawyers and warned them “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.” Furthermore, no evidence of such a legal review has been found.
  • Clinton has claimed she exclusively used a private email account for “convenience.” However, this claim is belied by Clinton’s response to an email from Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, in November 2010. When Abedin prodded Clinton about “putting you on State email or releasing your email address to the department […] ,” Clinton replied that she would consider a |separate address or device, “but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
  • Clinton turned over 30,000 work-related emails in December 2014, while deleting another 31,000 emails she said were personal in nature. However, the report claims her email handover was “incomplete,” and there are gaps and missing emails. For instance, the above-mentioned November 2010 email was not handed over by Clinton but was found through other means.
  • Several incidents were uncovered in which Clinton or some of her aides worried that Clinton’s private server had been hacked. For instance, a January 2011 email to a Clinton aide said Clinton’s server was shut down because “someone was trying to hack us.” It is unknown if the server actually was broken into at that time. However, Clinton and her aides failed to alert department computer security personnel to the hacking attempts, as required by department policy.
  • Clinton, as well as nine of her former top aides, refused to be interviewed for the report. By contrast, the four previous secretaries of state, as well as current Secretary of State John Kerry, were interviewed.

(The Washington Post, 5/25/2016) (The New York Times, 5/25/2016) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The New York Times rebuts every claim the Clinton campaign makes criticizing the inspector general’s report.

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)