February 26, 2012: The Obama administration punishes whistleblowers for leaks, but not high-ranking officials leaking favorable information.

Obama signs The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act on November 27, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Obama signs The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act on November 27, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

The New York Times reports that “[t]he Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance ‘whistleblower laws to protect federal workers,’ has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers. The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.”

ABC News reporter Jake Tapper says: “I have been following all of these cases, and it’s not like they are instances of government employees leaking the location of secret nuclear sites. These are classic whistle-blower cases that dealt with questionable behavior by government officials or its agents acting in the name of protecting America.”

The Times concludes, “There is plenty of authorized leaking going on, but this particular boat leaks from the top. Leaks from the decks below, especially ones that might embarrass the administration, have been dealt with very differently.” (The New York Times, 2/26/2016)

June 14, 2015: Bill Clinton says he and his wife Hillary don’t know if there were conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation.

Jake Tapper (Credit: CNN)

Jake Tapper (Credit: CNN)

CNN journalist Jake Tapper asks Bill Clinton, “I think a lot of people might say, OK, you say there’s no evidence that anything was done for [donors to the Clinton Foundation], but can you really say that these companies, these wealthy individuals, these governments, none of them sought anything? I mean, some of them did have business before the State Department.”

Clinton replies, “I don’t know. […] I know of no example. But you never know what people’s motives are.”

Tapper then says to him, “You say you don’t know if anybody sought any favor.”

Clinton responds, “No, and I don’t think Hillary would know either. She was pretty busy those years. And I never saw her study a list of my contributors or…and I had no idea who was doing business before the State Department.” (CNN, 6/14/2015)

March 12, 2016: Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, appears to leak a debate question to the Clinton campaign in advance.

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”

Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.

Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)

June 6, 2016: The State Department won’t process a FOIA request with important political implications until after the presidential election.

David Sirota (Credit: David Sirota)

David Sirota (Credit: David Sirota)

In July 2015, journalist David Sirota filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain all of Clinton’s correspondence regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In November 2015, the State Department told Sirota that the request would be fulfilled by April 2016. But on this day, the department pushes the deadline back to the end of November 2016—just after the general presidential election in early November.

While Clinton was secretary of state, she praised the TPP on over 45 different occasions and called it the “gold standard” of trade deals. Since then, she says she’s changed her mind and is against it. Sirota wants to know how involved she was in crafting the deal. This could have important political implications because Clinton’s chief primary opponent Bernie Sanders is strongly against the TPP and her likely general election opponent Donald Trump is against it as well. The average FOIA request made of the State Department takes 111 days to process, but based on the latest day, this one will take 489 days.

CNN journalist Jake Tapper comments, “The Department Inspector General [IG] in January noted that the State Department is particularly weak among Obama administration agencies when it comes to fulfilling the obligations of this law, the IG said that responses to these requests are deficient, that there aren’t enough personnel at the State Department to carry out all the requests, and that State Department leaders have not played a meaningful role in making any improvements. At a certain point, one begins to wonder if these weaknesses are deliberate and that these efforts to conceal information do not conceal a certain disdain for the public and your right to know.” (CNN, 6/6/2016)

October 30, 2016: Podesta claims that Huma Abedin has been fully cooperative and she doesn’t know any more than media reports.

On October 11, 2016, Podesta and Abedin confer on the Clinton campaign plane, shortly after Wikileaks begins releasing Podesta's emails. (Reuters)

On October 11, 2016, John Podesta and Huma Abedin confer on the Clinton campaign plane, shortly after Wikileaks begins to release his emails. (Credit: Reuters)

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta is interviewed on CNN by journalist Jake Tapper about the revelation that the FBI has reopened their Clinton email investigation due to new emails involving Clinton aide Huma Abedin found on the computer of her husband Anthony Weiner.

Tapper asks, “Have you asked Huma Abedin why she did not turn over this computer that is now being reviewed by the FBI?”

Podesta avoids saying if he’s recently talked to Abedin, and comments, “Look, I think Huma’s been completely cooperative with the authorities, and they have recognized that. She’s worked with her attorneys to turn over relevant material. But we don’t know what this is all about, really. So it’s very hard…”

Tapper points out, “But, John, she hasn’t been completely cooperative if she didn’t turn over every device that had State Department emails on them, and this one computer did.”

Podesta replies, “I think it’s clear that she complied to the best of her ability turned everything over that she had in her possession. I don’t know anything more than the speculation that’s running wild in the press now about what this is about.”

Podesta also claims, “I don’t think she knows anything more than what we have seen in the press to date.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/30/2016)