May 21, 2013—February 12, 2014: Clinton’s emails are not searched in response to a relevant FOIA request.

On May 21, 2013, Judicial Watch files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to Clinton aide Huma Abedin and the six-month time period starting in 2012 when she held three outside jobs in addition to being Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Part of the request is for communications about this matter from Clinton and Abedin.

State Department official Jonathon Wasser is asked to search for relevant records on October 1, 2013. He searches several department databases in November 2013, but does not check for emails from Abedin’s government email account or her private account, or Clinton’s private account. As a result, the official response given to Judicial Watch on February 12, 2014, contains only eight documents, and none of them are emails. Thus, Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account will remain a secret.

It will later be revealed that department officials at the time generally did not search for emails even when a FOIA request asked for that type of communication.

In 2015, after Clinton’s email scandal becomes public, the department will finally search for and find emails from both Clinton and Abedin responsive to the FOIA request. (Politico, 6/9/2016(Judicial Watch, 6/8/2016)

September 10, 2013: Records are sought for Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s multiple simultaneous jobs.

The Judicial Watch logo (Credit: Judicial Watch)

The Judicial Watch logo (Credit: Judicial Watch)

Judicial Watch, a politically conservative non-profit advocacy organization, files a complaint against the State Department in a US district court seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) relating to Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff. Judicial Watch is particularly interested in Abedin’s role as a “special government employee” (SGE), a consulting position which allowed her to represent outside clients while also serving at the State Department. (Judicial Watch, 3/12/2015) 

The lawsuit will be dismissed in March 2014, but then in June 2015 it will be reopened due to the discovery of Clinton’s private email account. (Judicial Watch, 6/19/2015)

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

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

150808HillaryOath

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

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

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

September 4, 2015: Justice Department lawyers oppose a search for Clinton’s deleted emails.

Judicial Watch asks a federal judge to order the State Department to take steps to determine whether any of the 31,830 emails deleted by Clinton still exist. They argue that Clinton’s emails are essentially government property that she should not have been allowed to take when she left the State Department.

However, Justice Department lawyers acting on behalf of the State Department oppose the request. They argue that personal emails are not federal records and don’t need to be preserved. One such government lawyer asserts, “There is no question that former Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision—she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server.”

Others have noted that at least some of the deleted emails have been found and were work-related. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)

October 7, 2015: A judge will not order an independent review of which Clinton emails are personal or work-related.

US District Court Judge Reggie Walton says that he does not believe he has the authority to order such a review. Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking all of her work emails, and they want to know if there in fact are some work emails in the ones Clinton decided were personal. The issue presumes that she still has copies of the over 31,000 emails she had deleted off her private server.

Walton says, “I would order the State Department make the request of her to produce specifically any State Department-related information in her emails. I can’t in my view order that the State Department do any more than that.” Another judge has already ordered the public release of all the emails that Clinton decided were work-related. (Politico, 10/7/2015)

February 23, 2016: Top Clinton aides will be questioned under oath in a civil suit.

Huma Abedin uses her smart phone in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 26, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Huma Abedin uses her smart phone in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 26, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rules that Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Bryan Pagliano, Cheryl Mills, Patrick Kennedy, and others would likely be questioned about Clinton’s use of her private email server. There is no immediate plan to question Clinton herself, but that could change. Sullivan’s ruling is in response to Judicial Watch, which has been seeking to determine if Clinton’s server thwarted federal open records laws. Sullivan comments that months of news about the email scandal has created “at least a reasonable suspicion” that public access to government records has been undermined.

Sullivan was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The judge gives Judicial Watch and government lawyers until April 12, 2016 to create a plan to proceed. The Washington Post notes this creates “the prospect that key Clinton aides would face questions just as she tries to secure the Democratic nomination and pivot to a hotly contested November general election.” (The Washington Post, 2/23/2016)

March 24, 2016: More of Clinton’s work-related emails that Clinton did not turn over are found.

Tom Fitton (Credit: WorldNetDaily)

Tom Fitton (Credit: WorldNetDaily)

Clinton has claimed that she turned over all her work emails and deleted only the ones that were personal. She also has claimed that she only began using her private email account on March 18, 2009.

However, Judicial Watch forced the State Department to release two previously unknown Clinton emails due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of her records relating to her iPhone or BlackBerry use. It’s not clear why the emails did not appear before.

Judicial Watch makes public an email to Clinton from her chief of staff Cheryl Mills on February 13, 2009 about her BlackBerry, and Clinton’s short email response.

Tom Fitton, the head of Judicial Watch, says, “So now we know that, contrary to her statement under oath suggesting otherwise, Hillary Clinton did not turn over all her government emails. We also know why Hillary Clinton falsely suggests she didn’t use clintonemail.com account prior to March, 18, 2009—because she didn’t want Americans to know… that she knew her BlackBerry and email use was not secure.” (The Hill, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/17/2016)

March 29, 2016: The State Department will need to reveal more on why they kept Clinton’s emails secret.

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

Judge Royce Lamberth (Credit: DC District / US Courts)

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth declares that Judicial Watch is entitled to more details on how Clinton’s private email account was integrated into the State Department record-keeping system and why it wasn’t searched in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Lamberth refers to “constantly shifting admissions by the government and the former government officials.” He says, “Where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” “Discovery” will allow Judicial Watch access to more information, and often includes depositions of targeted people.

The State Department has been slow responding to a FOIA request file in May 2014 about the government response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

A different judge granted Judicial Watch discovery in a related case in February 2016. (Politico, 3/29/2016)

April 5, 2016: The State Department wants to limit questions about Clinton’s email scandal.

The department argues in a court filing that top aides to Clinton should not be questioned about the on-going FBI investigation of Clinton’s private email and server, nor should they be questioned about the contents of their emails. Because of a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled in February 2016 that he would permit “narrowly tailored” discovery. Judicial Watch wants to question Clinton’s aides chief of staff Cheryl Mills, deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, and computer specialist Bryan Pagliano, and they want access to four others.

Although the State Department doesn’t object to the aides being questioned, they want to limit the questions to the issue of how and why Clinton’s private server was created. Judicial Watch hasn’t asked for Clinton’s testimony yet, but said they may do so in the future. (Politico, 4/5/2016)

April 15, 2016: Three Clinton aides will be publicly deposed about the email scandal.

State Department lawyers strike a deal with Judicial Watch over how depositions from three Clinton aides will work. Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Bryan Pagliano will be deposed, and their depositions can be videotaped and made public.

However, questions to them will be limited to how Clinton’s private server was created and operated, as well as how the State Department processed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that potentially involved emails from Clinton and/or Abedin. Furthermore, Judicial Watch agrees not to depose Diplomatic Security official Donald Reid. The deposition of three more State Department officials, Patrick Kennedy, Lewis Lukens, and Stephen Mull, remain unresolved. (Politico, 4/16/2016)

May 4, 2016: A judge says Clinton may have to testify under oath in a court case.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered some of Clinton’s former top aides to testify under oath about Clinton’s private email server and how the State Department handled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding Clinton’s emails. Based on what is revealed in those interviews, due to take place in the next two months, Sullivan says that a sworn deposition from Clinton herself “may be necessary.” Judicial Watch, who made the original FOIA requests, would have to file a separate request “at the appropriate time.”

The Associated Press notes, “That raises the possibility that Clinton could be ordered to testify in the midst of the presidential race.” (The Associated Press, 5/4/2016) (LawNewz, 5/4/2016)

May 4, 2016: Six former State Department officials are to be deposed under oath in the next two months.

Lewis Lukens (Credit: public domain)

Lewis Lukens (Credit: public domain)

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan says the depositions are necessary in order to determine if the department conducted an adequate search regarding Judicial Watch’s 2013 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the employment of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, since she had three outside jobs at one point.

Deposition questions are to be limited to the set-up and management of Clinton’s private server, since the department failed to reveal Clinton’s emails on the server in response to the FOIA request. The former aides due to be deposed in the next two months are:

  • Huma Abedin
  • Cheryl Mills
  • Bryan Pagliano
  • Patrick Kennedy
  • Stephen Mull
  • Lewis Lukens
  • plus, someone to be decided by the State Department.

Judicial Watch could make a video of their interviews public. (LawNewz, 5/4/2016) (The Associated Press, 5/4/2016)

May 5, 2016: Some of Clinton’s emails may remain private because of a legal precedent involving former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger participate in "Conversations on Diplomacy, Moderated by Charlie Rose,” at the Department of State in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Clinton and Henry Kissinger in Washington, DC, on April 20, 2011. (Credit: Jewel  Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Kissinger made transcripts of some of his work-related phone calls. After he left office in January 1977, he took the only copies with him and eventually had them transferred to the Library of Congress, with tight restrictions on who could access them. A watchdog group sued for access, but the US Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-two decision that the State Department had no obligation to search for documents that had been removed, even if they had been improperly taken.

However, there is a footnote written by Justice William Rehnquist that the ruling might not apply when someone is actively trying to thwart the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In two ongoing civil suits, judges have granted discovery to Judicial Watch in part to determine if Clinton or her aides had actively tried to thwart FOIA. That opens the possibility of a judge eventually ordering Clinton to hand over even the emails she deemed personal, if she still has them. (Time, 5/5/2016)

May 5, 2016: 36 more Clinton emails are publicly released, suggesting many more still to come.

In January 2016, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release all the known emails of Huma Abedin from her time as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. This is in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch.

Over 29,000 pages of emails are due to be released in batches, and this is the first batch of 241 pages. Some of the emails are between Abedin and Clinton, and most if not all of them appear to be work-related, showing yet again that Clinton did not turn over all her work-related emails when she gave the State Department over 30,000 emails in December 2014.

21 of the emails between Abedin and Clinton date from January 28, 2009 to March 17, 2009; Clinton had said she didn’t use her new email account until March 18, 2009.

Another 15 emails between them date between March 18, 2009 to October 20, 2012, and do not match any of emails in the State Department’s database of the 30,000 publicly released Clinton emails. Whereas 16 emails dating from March 20, 2009 to May 28, 2009 do appear in that database. (Judicial Watch, 5/5/2016) (US Department of State, 5/1/2016) (US Department of State, 5/1/2016) 

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “These emails further undermine Hillary Clinton’s statement, under penalty of perjury, suggesting she turned over all of her government emails to the State Department. How many more Hillary Clinton emails is the Obama State Department hiding?” (Judicial Watch, 5/5/2016) Since these emails appear to be:

  • a more or less random selection from all four years of Clinton’s time as secretary of state
  • about half of the emails from March 18, 2009 and afterwards are not included in the 30,000 previously released emails
  • this batch makes up less than one percent of all the Huma Abedin emails due to be released
  • Abedin’s emails make up only about 15 percent of the 30,000 emails

One can reasonably estimate that thousands of the over 31,000 emails Clinton deleted actually are work-related and are likely to be publicly released in later batch releases of Abedin’s emails as well as FOIA lawsuits forcing the release of emails from other top Clinton aides. In fact, if this sample is a truly random sample representative of the rest of the emails from Abedin and other top Clinton aides, well over 10,000 of Clinton’s deleted emails could be work-related.

May 12, 2016: Over 120 additional Clinton emails are publicly released.

More of Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state are released by the State Department, due to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. In 2015, Clinton claimed that she didn’t start using her new private email address until March 18, 2009. But all these emails date from before then.

There are 15 emails using her old email address from January 22, 2009 (one day after she became secretary of state) to February 26, 2009. There are another 108 emails using her new email address (hosted on her private server) from January 30, 2009 to March 8, 2009. (Judicial Watch, 5/12/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) 

LawNewz notes that this email release “contradicts claims made by Clinton and her campaign that she did not begin using the private e-mail server until March 2009. […] The dates of the newly released e-mails also appear to contradict a declaration signed by Clinton, under penalty of perjury, saying she surrendered all her work-related e-mails to the State Department on December 5, 2014.” (LawNewz, 5/13/2016)

May 16, 2016: Clinton may be forced to testify under oath in a civil lawsuit related to her emails.

Judicial Watch formally asks US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth for permission to depose Clinton as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

This is actually one of two similar cases involving Judicial Watch and Clinton. In the other case, handled by federal judge Emmet Sullivan, Judicial Watch has not asked for Clinton’s deposition yet, but they may do so in the future, and they are deposing some of her former aides. In this case, Clinton could be forced to testify under oath about her use of a private email account for government work as well as the State Department’s response to FOIA requests for information related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. (Politico, 05/16/2016)

May 17, 2016: Depositions in a civil lawsuit related to Clinton’s emails will begin within days and continue until the end of June.

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan is allowing Judicial Watch to depose six US officials under oath, mostly Clinton’s former aides, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, on the following dates:

  • May 18: Former deputy assistant secretary of state Lewis Lukens will be interviewed on May 18.
  • May 27: Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
  • June 3: Stephen Mull, former State Department executive secretary.
  • June 6: Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s former computer technician who managed her private server.
  • June 28: Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff.
  • June 29: Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management since 2007 until current.

Judicial Watch can interview each witness for up to seven hours, and the video of the interviews can be made public several days later. The questioning will be limited, but includes the issue of how Clinton’s private server was set up and managed, and why the State Department didn’t properly fulfill FOIA requests for Clinton’s emails. (The Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2016) (Judicial Watch, 5/17/2015)

May 18, 2016: Former Clinton aide Lewis Lukens testifies under oath for two hours about his knowledge of Clinton’s emails and private server.

Lewis Lukens (Credit: Harry Hamburg / The Associated Press)

Lewis Lukens (Credit: Harry Hamburg / The Associated Press)

Lukens has been deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. He is the first of six to be deposed as part of that lawsuit, which is presided over by federal judge Emmet Sullivan. (The New York Times, 5/18/2016) (Judicial Watch v. State Lukens Testimony 01363 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: Justice Department lawyers are “wholly opposed” to Clinton being deposed in a civil suit related to her emails.

Justice Department lawyers oppose Judicial Watch’s request that Clinton give a sworn deposition. There are two closely related civil suits in which Judicial Watch has been granted the right of discovery, allowing them to depose witnesses. Six of Clinton’s former aides are already being deposed in the suit presided over by federal judge Emmet Sullivan.

Judicial Watch recently requested that Clinton be deposed in the other suit, presided over by federal judge Royce Lamberth. However, department lawyers argue that Lamberth should let the depositions in the other case play out before allowing Clinton to be deposed in his case. They call the request “wholly inappropriate,” adding, “Judicial Watch makes no attempt here to justify why the witnesses it names would provide any relevant information that is not redundant and cumulative of the discovery that has already been ordered and initiated.”

However, while they oppose Clinton being deposed, they do not oppose Judicial Watch’s request to depose former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan. So far, Judicial Watch has not asked for Clinton or Sullivan to be deposed in the other suit. (Politico, 5/27/2016)

May 27, 2016: Cheryl Mills is deposed under oath, but frequently fails to answer questions.

Cheryl Mills speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting 2012. (Credit: Clinton Global Initiative)

Cheryl Mills speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting 2012. (Credit: Clinton Global Initiative)

Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills is deposed by Judicial Watch as part of civil lawsuit presided over by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. She is questioned for seven hours, with eleven other lawyers present, including four Justice Department lawyers assisting Mills.

The deposition is contentious, with Judicial Watch lawyers frequently arguing with Mills’ lawyer Beth Wilkinson and State Department lawyers. Mills has also worked as one of Clinton’s lawyers at times (though not while Clinton was secretary of state), and Wilkinson often objects to questions on the grounds of attorney-client privilege between Mills and Clinton. For instance, Mills fails to answer any questions about the sorting and deleting of Clinton’s emails in late 2014, when Mills was one of Clinton’s lawyers who performed that task. Mills also doesn’t answer many questions about Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano. (LawNewz, 5/31/2016) (Politico, 5/31/2016) (Judicial Watch, 5/31/2016)

Mills is frequently forgetful or uncertain with her answers. The New York Post calculates she says “I can’t recall” 40 times and “I don’t know” 182 times. (The New York Post, 6/11/2016)

June 1, 2016: Pagliano will refuse to answer questions in his upcoming deposition.

Lawyers for Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano say he “will assert the Fifth Amendment and will decline to answer each and every question” when deposed by Judicial Watch as part of a civil suit on June 6.

Pagliano previously refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee or Congressional investigators. However, it has been reported that he made an immunity deal with the Justice Department as part of cooperating with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Also, despite the fact that Pagliano plans on not answering any questions, his lawyers also ask that no video recording of his deposition be made. US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has already ruled that videos of the deposition should be put under seal. However, Pagliano’s lawyers argue there still could be a chance a video could be released later. (Politico, 6/1/2016) (The Hill, 6/1/2016)

Two days later, Sullivan announces that Pagliano’s deposition will be postponed until issues about his pleading the Fifth are resolved. Sullivan has asked Pagliano’s lawyers to reveal the scope of the immunity deal between Pagliano and the Justice Department, and how that could affect this civil case. There are different types of immunity deals, and until now it hasn’t been clear which type applies to Pagliano. (Politico, 6/3/2016) (The Hill, 6/3/2016)

June 8, 2016: It remains unknown if the State Department’s legal office was aware of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

While deposed in a civil lawsuit by Judicial Watch, State Department official Karin Lang declines to say whether or not the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser was aware of Clinton’s private server. She also declines to say whether the department’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process or searches were adequate when Judicial Watch in 2013 requested records that could have included emails from Clinton.

Lang is accompanied by four lawyers for the State and Justice departments in the deposition, and they object that such questions violate attorney-client privilege or are a legal judgment. (The Washington Post, 6/8/2016)

June 14, 2016: Pagliano’s immunity deal will remain secret and he will be privately videotaped.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is presiding over a civil suit in which he wants Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano to be deposed under oath and answer questions from Judicial Watch about Clinton’s email server. Pagliano has said he will plead the Fifth Amendment due to receiving an immunity deal with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Sullivan orders the immunity deal to be submitted to the court, but declares that details of the deal will not be made public, stating, “In the Court’s opinion, the need for public access to Mr. Pagliano’s agreement with the government is minimal.”

Pagliano also petitioned not to be videotaped, but Sullivan denies this request. Sullivan previously ruled such a video recording would remain under seal and not publicly released, and that will still be the case. Pagliano had been scheduled to be deposed on June 6, 2016. Sullivan orders him and Judicial Watch to arrange a new date for it before the end of June. (Politico, 6/14/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/14/2016)

June 21, 2016: A judge puts a Clinton email lawsuit on hold while waiting on other cases.

Harold Koh (Credit: Jay Premack)

Harold Koh (Credit: Jay Premack)

In a civil lawsuit, Judicial Watch is trying to find out why two State Department officials didn’t search Clinton’s private email address in response to a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request filed in December 2012. Judicial Watch claims the two officials—Legal Advisor Harold Koh and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy—knew of the FOIA request and knew of Clinton’s email address, since both of them emailed Clinton sometimes. (Koh joined the department in mid-2013, a few months after Clinton left, but the FOIA request was still in process.)

Judicial Watch wants to be granted discovery, which means they would be able to depose the officials to question them under oath. However, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton puts the decision on hold because there are two other similar suits going on, including one in which Kennedy is due to be deposed by Judicial Watch at the end of June 2016.

Furthermore, Walton also notes a federal appeals court is currently considering a lawsuit unrelated to Clinton that tests the government’s obligation to search a private email account maintained by a department head in response to a FOIA request. (Politico, 6/21/2016) (Politico, 6/17/2016)

June 22, 2016: Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano repeatedly pleads the Fifth in a sworn deposition.

Pagliano has been forcibly deposed by Judicial Watch in a civil suit presided by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. He originally was supposed to be deposed on June 6, 2016, but it was delayed after he revealed he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination, as well as arguments over the implications of his limited immunity given as part of a deal he made to cooperate with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

As expected, he pleads the Fifth, doing so more than 125 times, according to Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. Fitton also says, “On many of the key issues, he took the Fifth. He took the Fifth even on questions about his resume.”

In addition, Pagliano’s lawyers reportedly object to many questions, saying they go beyond the scope of discovery permitted by Sullivan. Fitton says he hopes Sullivan will see Pagliano’s failure to answer any substantive questions as further evidence that Clinton’s private email server set up by Pagliano may have been designed to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. (Politico, 6/22/2016)

June 27, 2016: Former President Bill Clinton has an “accidental” meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, causing a political storm.

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

On the night of June 27, 2016, Clinton and Lynch are in separate airplanes at the international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. According to an account by Lynch two days later, Clinton walks uninvited from his plane to her plane and talks with her for about half an hour. On June 30, 2016, CBS News will report, “An aide to Bill Clinton says that he spotted her on the tarmac, but CBS News has been told that she was in an unmarked plane.” (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

Lynch will say: “He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.” However, this encounter causes what the New York Times calls a “political furor” and “storm,” because Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary is being investigated by the FBI.

Furthermore, the FBI is expected to make a recommendation to indict her or not “in the coming weeks,” according to the Times. If the FBI does recommend indictment, then the decision to actually indict or not will rest with Lynch. Thus, many Republican politicians and even some Democrats criticize Bill Clinton and Lynch simply for meeting at all during such a politically charged time.

  • Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls it “one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year.” He says it was a “sneak” meeting, exposing that Clinton’s possible indictment is already a rigged process.
  • Republican Senator John Cornyn says that as a lawyer and attorney general, Lynch “must avoid even the appearance” of a conflict of interest, and renews his call for a special prosecutor to take charge of the Clinton investigation instead of Lynch.
  • David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, says he takes Clinton and Lynch at their word that their conversation didn’t touch on the FBI investigation, but that it was “foolish to create such optics.”
  • Democratic Senator Chris Coons says he is convinced Lynch is “an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal… I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

  • White House spokesperson Josh Earnest refuses to say whether the meeting was appropriate or not.
  • The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch says the meeting creates the impression that “the fix is in” and calls on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the meeting. (The New York Times, 6/30/2016) (The Hill, 6/30/2016) (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers comments: “It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president. […] He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane.” He adds that the meeting “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said.” (NPR, 6/30/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin is deposed in a civil suit; she says Clinton didn’t want her personal emails accessible by anybody.

Photo of an ABC News report on Huma Abedin's deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News).

An ABC News report on Huma Abedin’s deposition on June 29, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, and continues to play a major role as the vice chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She is deposed under oath for nearly six hours as part of a civil suit brought by Judicial Watch regarding the State Department’s slow response to certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests relating to Clinton’s emails. (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

Amongst other things, Abedin says:

  • She isn’t aware whether Clinton personally deleted any emails while still in office.
  • She cannot recall whether she or Clinton discussed with any State Department officials Clinton’s using only her own server for government business.
  • She never searched or was asked to search her government or her private email accounts in response to requests or lawsuits under FOIA. But a review of all requests to the State Department during that time found several asking specifically for her emails on a number of subjects.
  • Clinton didn’t want the private emails that she mixed in with work-related emails to be accessible to “anybody.” (The Associated Press, 6/29/2016)

Abedin responds to some questions but is forgetful about others. The lack of definitive answers from her and the other former aides deposed in the same lawsuit could open the door to Clinton herself being deposed, if the judge allows it through the unusual discovery process he has approved so far.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton comments, “I think it’s striking that even Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had concerns about how the system affected Mrs. Clinton’s ability to do her job. We’re considering what next steps to take and what additional discovery we need.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

 

June 28, 2016: Huma Abedin admits she worked on “Clinton family matters” while she was working at the State Department.

During the deposition of Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin by Judicial Watch, she is asked if she used her private email account hosted on Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server for any State Department work.

160627HumaAbedinDavidMcGlynn

Huma Abedin (Credit: David McGlynn)

Abedin responds, “My practice was to use my state.gov email. I did the vast majority of my work on state.gov, at my computer and on my BlackBerry when we traveled. And I used Clinton email for just about everything else. I used that for the Clinton family matters and, frankly, I used it for my own personal e-mail, as well.”

She is pressed, “But you also used it at times for state-related matters?”

She replies, “Yes. There were occasions when I did do that, correct.”

She is then asked, “And were there occasions when you used that with Secretary Clinton, where both of you used only the clintonemail.com accounts?”

Abedin replies, “There were occasions when that occurred, yes.” (Judicial Watch, 6/29/2016)

Unfortunately, Abedin is not asked what she means by working on “Clinton family matters,” and if that included Clinton Foundation matters.

June 29, 2016: At least 160 of Clinton’s work emails have turned up since Clinton said she turned them all over.

The Washington Post reports that “disclosures over the past several weeks have revealed dozens of emails related to Clinton’s official duties that crossed her private server and were not included in the 55,000 pages of correspondence she turned over to the State Department when the agency sought her emails in 2014.”

At least 127 of the new emails have come to light through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests initiated by Judicial Watch, especially the first two batch releases of Huma Abedin’s emails. Since Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, many of the emails were to or from Clinton about obvious work matters, yet weren’t included in the over 30,000 emails turned over by Clinton. Additionally, more of Clinton’s emails came to light through the May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, as well as previous leaks to the media, for a total of at least 160 emails.

The Post comments, “The newly disclosed gaps in Clinton’s correspondence raise questions about the process used by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her lawyers to determine which emails she turned over to the department.”

Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon says that both Clinton and Abedin provided “all potentially work-related emails in their possession” to the State Department. “We understand Secretary Clinton had some emails with Huma that Huma did not have, and Huma had some emails with Secretary Clinton that Secretary Clinton did not have.” However, the Post notes that Fallon “has not provided a full explanation for all of the gaps” with her emails. The State Department also has not fully addressed the gaps.

The campaign for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump releases a statement saying, “We now know that Clinton’s repeated assertion that she turned over everything work-related from her time at the State Department is not true.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says, “The most charitable interpretation is that the process she and her attorneys used to cull government emails from the emails she took with her didn’t work. The less charitable interpretation is that these emails were not helpful to Mrs. Clinton, so they were not turned over.” (The Washington Post, 6/29/2016)

July 8, 2016: Judicial Watch asks to depose Clinton and two others in a civil suit.

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Clarence Finney (Credit: CSpan)

Judicial Watch files a motion to depose Clinton as part a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit relating to Clinton’s emails. US District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered six of Clinton’s former aides to be deposed, and left open the possibility that Clinton could be deposed later, depending on the answers given by the aides.  All six finished their depositions by the end of June 2016.

Judicial Watch argues it has “attempted to obtain as much evidence as possible from other State Department officials, but Secretary Clinton is an indispensable witness and significant questions remain, including why records management officials apparently had no knowledge of [her email] system when so many other officials used the system to communicate with her. Consequently, Secretary Clinton’s deposition is necessary.”

Additionally, Judicial Watch is asking to depose two other former Clinton aides who had knowledge of Clinton’s private server, John Bentel and Clarence Finney. They also want to depose Clinton in a similar lawsuit presided by Judge Royce Lamberth.

Sullivan announces that the motion will be argued on July 18, 2016. (LawNewz, 7/8/2016)

July 18, 2016: Clinton’s lawyer insists Clinton’s use of a private server was allowed by policy, despite clear evidence it wasn’t.

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Judge Emmet Sullivan (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / National Law Journal

Clinton’s longtime personal lawyer David Kendall appears in court regarding Clinton’s email controversy for the first time since the issue became public in March 2015. He is opposing a request to have Clinton deposed in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit initiated by Judicial Watch.

The judge in the case, Emmet Sullivan, has said publicly that Clinton violated government policy by doing official business on the private server. The State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, also concluded the same in a May 2016 report. Kendall nonetheless maintains that Clinton’s behavior “was clearly permitted and allowed” by policy. However, he admits that her server was never specifically approved by anyone at the State Department. He also argues that the reason Clinton set up and used a private email server for all her emails was “a matter of convenience.”

Sullivan doesn’t immediately decide whether Clinton should be deposed or not. However, Judicial Watch has also asked for the depositions of former State Department officials Clarence Finney and John Bentel, and Sullivan does definitively state that at least Bentel “should be deposed.” (Politico, 07/18/2016)

August 10, 2016: Cheryl Mills answers additional questions she failed to answer in her deposition.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, was deposed in May 2016 as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch. At that time, she refused to answer some questions, citing attorney-client privilege. Judge Emmet Sullivan worked out a compromise to have Mills answer some questions in writing to prevent further litigation, and Mills’ written answers are made public by Judicial Watch on this day.

This written testimony shows that shortly after the hacker known as Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and publicy revealed Clinton’s private email address in March 2013, Mills was worried about the potential impact this coud have on Clinton’s private email server. Mills discussed this with Clinton’s computer techician Bryan Pagliano. Clinton’s email address was changed, but it is still unknown if any other security measures were taken. (Politico, 8/10/2016)

August 12, 2016: The State Department will release all of Clinton’s work-related emails recovered by the FBI.

In late 2014, Clinton sorted her emails into what she and her lawyers deemed work-related and personal, and then deleted over 31,000 of the “personal” emails. In the FBI investigation into her emails that concluded in July 2016, it was reported that “several thousand” of the personal emails were recovered or found through other people having copies, and many of these actually were work-related.

In a court filing, the State Department reveals that it is planning to release all of the emails it decides are work-related. The emails will be given to Judicial Watch, who have a number of on-going Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits related to Clinton’s emails. However, it is unknown just how many emails were recovered and how many of those are work-related. It also is unknown how soon they will be released. Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus urges the department to release the emails before the November 2016 presidential election. (The Hill, 8/16/2016)

August 19, 2016: A judge rules that Clinton can respond to a deposition with written answers instead of being questioned in person.

Judge Emmet Sullivan, District Court for the District of Columbia, (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

Judge Emmet Sullivan, District Court for the District of Columbia, (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / The National Law Journal)

Judicial Watch has been seeking to have Clinton deposed as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving her emails. However, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan rules: “Judicial Watch’s argument that a deposition is preferable in this case because of the ability to ask follow-up questions is not persuasive. Given the extensive public record related to the clintonemail.com system, a record which Judicial Watch has acknowledged

Judicial Watch will be able to anticipate many follow-up questions. For those follow-up questions that Judicial Watch is unable to anticipate, it can move this Court for permission to serve additional interrogatories.”

Sullivan notes that due to legal precedents applicable to current and former Cabinet officials, he should only require Clinton to appear at a deposition if “exceptional circumstances” justify it.

Sullivan says he is still intent on finding out why Clinton’s private server was set up and whether there were other reasons beyond Clinton’s public claim of “convenience.” He also says it is important that she at least answer questions in writing about this because depositions of Clinton’s staff had shown that “her closest aides at the State Department do not have personal knowledge of her purpose in using the [server].”

Politico notes, “Technically, it is still possible one of several other judges considering similar cases could issue such an order [for Clinton to be deposed in person], but the clock may run out soon on efforts to force such an appearance in advance of the November [presidential] election.”

Judicial Watch also asked for the depositions of former State Department officials Clarence Finney and John Bentel.

Sullivan rejects the deposition of Finney, despite the fact that Finney’s job was to organize responses to FOIA requests. However, he does order the future deposition of Bentel. It has been reported that Bentel blocked other department employees from raising questions about Clinton’s use of her server. (Politico, 8/19/2016)

August 22, 2016: The State Department is ordered to review nearly 15,000 Clinton emails for public release, but it is unclear how many of these are previously unreleased work-related emails.

During the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, the FBI found some of Clinton’s over 31,000 deleted emails from when she was secretary of state. At the conclusion of the investigation in July 2016, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails,” but is it uncertain exactly how many of these emails were found, either work-related or personal. The FBI has given the State Department a CD containing the found emails, and the department has said it will publicly release all the work-related ones.

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US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / National Law Review)

In a court hearing presided by US District Judge James Boasberg on this day, it is revealed that the CD contains around 14,900 emails. Boasberg orders the State Department to review the emails for public release in response to various Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits by Judicial Watch. However, it is still unclear if any of these are duplicates of the 30,000 Clinton emails already publicly released. Furthermore, it is unknown how many of the found deleted emails are personal and how many are work-related (aside from Comey’s vague “several thousand” emails comment).

In addtion, the FBI has given the State Department seven other CDs: one contains classified documents related to Clinton, another contains emails returned by Clinton, and the other five contain materials from other people that was retrieved by the FBI.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner says, “We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State. State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”

Regarding the CD of Clinton emails, Toner says, “We still don’t have a full sense of how many of the 14,900 are new. Granted, that’s a healthy number there, so there’s likely to be quite a few.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus comments, “The process for reviewing these emails needs to be expedited, public disclosure should begin before early voting starts, and the emails in question should be released in full before Election Day.” (Politico, 8/22/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/22/2016)

On September 23, 2016, it will be revealed that 5,600 of the 14,900 recovered emails are deemed work-related.

September 15, 2016: More information about the emails between Clinton and Obama is made public.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: public domain)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: public domain)

While Clinton was secretary of state, she exchanged 18 emails with President Obama from her private email account. All information about these emails has remained classified. But some details are finally released due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Vice News.

All of the emails were exchanged between May 18, 2012 and January 31, 2013. Obama sent eight emails to Clinton, and the other ten were from Clinton to Obama. None of the emails appear to contain highly sensitive or classified information, but instead are thank you notes, holiday greetings, and the like.

All of the emails were withheld under presidential privilege and privacy act and deliberative process exemptions to the FOIA. The new details are formally submitted in  what is called a Vaughn Index, a document prepared for FOIA lawsuits in which government departments justify the withholding of information. (Vice News, 09/15/16) (Vicc News, 09/15/16)

In February 2016, it was reported there were 19 emails between Clinton and Obama, not 18. It is unclear if the Vaughn Index is missing one or if the report of 19 emails was off by one.

 

September 23, 2016: The FBI has recovered 5,600 of Clinton’s deleted emails, but only about 10 percent of those will be released before the presidential election.

US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

US District Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

US District Judge James Boasberg orders the State Department to finish publicly releasing about 1,000 pages of  Clinton’s emails recovered by the FBI by November 4, 2016, just four days before the US presidential election. When Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of emails in December 2014, that totaled 30,000 emails, so if the same ratio holds, that would mean between 500 and 600 emails. Due to an on-going Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Judicial Watch, the State Department will release 350 pages of emails by October 7, 350 pages by October 21, and another 350 by November 4. After that, it will produce 500 pages a month.

In late July 2016, the FBI gave the State Department 15,000 emails that had been recovered by the FBI out of Clinton’s 31,000 deleted. For the first time, it  is revealed that about 9,400 of these have been deemed purely personal by the department, which means they will not ever be publicly released. That means there are about 5,600 work-related emails to be reviewed and released. But roughly half of those may be largely duplicates of emails that have already been released. For instance, Clinton was often send emails to aides she wanted printed out for later reading, and would merely comment “Please print,” or she would forward an email to an aide without comment.

It is estimated only about 10 percent of the Clinton work-related emails recovered by the FBI will be made public before the election. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, complains, “The public deserves to know what is in those emails, well before November 8, and the State Department should not continue dragging its feet on producing them.” (The New York Times, 9/23/2016)