April 2012: A photo leads to confirmation Clinton is not using a government email account, but no action is taken.

Clinton checks her Blackberry in a military C-17 plane bound for Tripoli, Libya October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

Clinton checks her Blackberry in a military C-17 plane bound for Tripoli, Libya October 18, 2011. (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / The Associated Press)

A photo of Clinton using her BlackBerry while wearing sunglasses on a military plane in 2011 becomes popular on the Internet, prompting a “Texts from Hillary” meme.

In court testimony in 2016, State Director of Executive Secretariat Staff Karin Lang will recall that Clarence Finney, who oversees the State Department’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) searches, sees the photo in the media and wants to know if Clinton still does not have a government email account. Finney checks with the department’s information management staff and confirms she still doesn’t have one. According to Lang, Finney will not recall who told him this, or when it happened exactly. (Politico, 6/9/2016

However, the photo’s popularity starts and peaks in April 2012. The Washington Post comments about the photo at the time, “When Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her phone, she’s probably reading top secret e-mails…” But this does not lead to any attempt by Finney or others to find if she might have a private email account that could be responsive to FOIA requests. (The Washington Post, 4/5/2012)

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)