February 3, 1993: An executive order prohibits a federal government official from using public office for private gain.

President George H. W. Bush signs Executive Order 12674 on April 12, 1989. It sets out fourteen basic principles of ethical conduct for executive branch personnel.  It becomes effective on February 3, 1993. (US Office of Government Ethics, 4/5/2016)

It states, in part: “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.” (US Government Publishing Office)

October 30, 1995: The State Department orders that all employees must preserve their emails.

New regulations state that “such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

1996: Future FBI Director Comey wants to charge Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater investigation.

Cover of Time magazine on April 4, 1994, with the subhead "How the president's men tried to hinder the Whitewater investigation" (Credit: Time Magazine)

Cover of Time magazine on April 4, 1994, with the subhead “How the president’s men tried to hinder the Whitewater investigation” (Credit: Time Magazine)

James Comey is deputy special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee. According to Time Magazine in March 2016: “In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to ‘far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,’ Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted ‘a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.’”

However, Comey is not in charge of the case, and his superiors decide not to press charges against Bill or Hillary Clinton in the matter.

In 2013, Comey will be appointed director of the FBI, which will make him the de facto head of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails that starts in 2015. (Time, 3/31/2016)

January 1, 2003: An FBI agent is charged with gross negligence but pleads guilty to lesser charges.

030101JamesJSmithAP

Ex FBI agent James J. Smith (Credit: The Associated Press)

James Smith is an FBI agent for more than 20 years, running counterintelligence operations against Chinese spies. In 2003, three years after retiring from the FBI, he is arrested by the FBI and charged with gross negligence. He had a sexual relationship with a longtime source, Katrina Leung. He is alleged to have carried classified documents in a briefcase and sometimes left the case open and unattended while he visited her. Leung was believed to be a double agent working for the Chinese government but loyal to the FBI. However, she copied some of the documents, which were found in her safe. Smith is also charged with wire fraud for submitting false reports on Leung’s activities as an FBI asset.

030101KatrinaLeungUSNewsWorldReport

Katrina Leung makes the front cover of U.S. News & World Report on November 2, 2003. (Credit: public domain)

The original charges against Smith are later dropped in a plea deal whereby he pleads guilty to a single felony count of making false statements by failing to mention his affair with Leung. He is sentenced to three months of home confinement, three years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. It is alleged there was no damage to national security because the classified information never got further than Leung when she was arrested at the same time he was.

Leung is charged with obtaining and keeping classified documents in violation of the Espionage Act, but without an explicit charge of espionage. She also strikes a plea deal, pleading guilty to making a false statement and filing a false tax return. She is sentenced to probation.

In July 2016, FBI Director James Comey will announce he is not going to charge Clinton with gross negligence, claiming only one other person, Smith, has been charged with it in 100 years. (Politico, 7/7/2016)

November 4, 2005: State Department policy decrees day-to-day operations are to be done on government servers.

US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC.

State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. (Credit: AgnosticPreachersKid)

The State Department decrees that “sensitive but unclassified” information should not be transmitted through personal email accounts. It also states, “It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized [government server], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication, and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.” (US Department of State, 1/12/2016) (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

The department’s regulations also require that “Departing officials must ensure that all record material that they possess is incorporated in the Department’s official files and that all file searches for which they have been tasked have been completed, such as those required to respond to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], Congressional, or litigation-related document requests. Fines, imprisonment, or both may be imposed for the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of records as stated in the US Criminal Code (e.g., 18 U.S.C., section 2071).” (US Department of State, 8/17/2007)

January 1, 2007: An NSA whistleblower is harassed by the government despite no evidence against him.

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

In 2002, William Binney, a recently retired NSA [National Security Agency] official, alerted the Defense Department’s inspector general that the department is wasting over $3 billion on a new system to track Internet data, when it could be done for $3 million instead.

In 2007, the FBI searches his home in a hunt for whoever leaked details of a secret post-9/11 domestic wiretapping program. He isn’t prosecuted, since he had nothing to do with that leak, but government officials “blackball” his consulting firm for intelligence agencies, costing him millions of dollars. He is wiretapped, stripped of his security clearance, and threatened with prosecution for two years.

In 2015, he will complain that he was unfairly targeted because he was a whistleblower. He says Clinton and other top ranking officials will never get prosecuted, no matter what they do. “These people are above the law.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

March 2007—2008: The Bush Administration gets embroiled in a private email scandal.

On April 13, 2007, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports on the Bush administration's missing emails. (Credit: CNN)

On April 13, 2007, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux reports on the Bush administration’s missing emails. (Credit: CNN)

A Congressional oversight committee investigates allegations that the White House fired US attorneys for political reasons. The committee asks Bush officials to turn over relevant emails, only to find that government work had been conducted on private email addresses. Millions of emails are deleted and permanently lost, preventing the committee from continuing their investigation. Bush officials use email accounts associated with a private gwb43.com server owned and controlled by the RNC [Republican National Committee], which is a private political entity not covered by government oversight laws. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2007) (Vox, 3/2/2015)

In 2015, shortly after Clinton’s use of a private email address will be revealed, Vox will comment, “That [Bush administration email] scandal unfolded well into the final year of Bush’s presidency, then overlapped with another email secrecy scandal, over official emails that got improperly logged and then deleted, which itself dragged well into Obama’s first year in office. There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same.”

Vox will also note, “Perhaps even more stunning is that the Obama White House, whose top officials were presumably exchanging frequent emails with Clinton, apparently did not insist she adopt an official email account.” (Vox, 3/2/2015)

2008: A government guide explains how to deal with the accidental mention of classified information.

The US government posts an internal guide on how to deal with “spillage”—the common term for classified information accidentally getting onto an unclassified system. The guide, “National Instruction on Classified Information Spillage,” explains how such errors should be assessed and reported. One step mentioned for more severe cases is: “Determine whether the incident should be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation and/or criminal prosecution.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

2008: The US government publishes rules for email storage.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 21, 2009: President Obama pledges to increase government transparency.

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

During his swearing-in ceremony, Obama says, “Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

He adds, “Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known. […] The Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.” (The White House, 1/21/2009)

In November 2016, Slate will comment, “Needless to say, the agencies have not taken this order seriously, nor has Obama pressured or prodded them to do so. Many crises crowded his agenda soon after his inauguration, leaving the cause of government openness on the back burner, if not in the freezer.” (Slate, 11/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: While Clinton is secretary of state, at least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that donate to the Clinton Foundation also lobby Clinton’s State Department.

Clinton (right) texting while attending a dinner with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri (center) and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (left), in Marrakesh, Morocco, on November 2, 2009. (Credit: Abdelhak Senna / Agence France Presse)

Clinton (right) texting while attending a dinner with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri (center) and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (left), in Marrakesh, Morocco, on November 2, 2009. (Credit: Abdelhak Senna / Agence France Presse)

Bill Clinton also collects $26 million in speaking fees from Clinton Foundation donors. These numbers will be calculated by Vox in 2015. Vox will comment that no one “has produced anything close to evidence of a quid pro quo in which Hillary Clinton took official action in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.”

However, “public records alone reveal a nearly limitless supply of cozy relationships between the Clintons and companies with interests before the government. […] That’s not illegal, but it is scandalous.” Vox adds, “Ultimately, it is impossible to tell where one end of the two-headed Clinton political and philanthropic operation ends and where the other begins.” (Vox, 4/28/2015)

January 21, 2009—2014: While secretary of state, Clinton supports international business deals that benefit Boeing, a US-based airplane manufacturing company.

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

A $30 billion agreement was made on December 30, 2010, to sell advanced F-15SA Strike Eagle fighter jets (pictured) to Saudi Arabia. (Credit: The Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, Boeing and the foreign countries involved in the deals donate to the Clinton Foundation and pay for speeches given by Bill Clinton.

  • In early 2009, Clinton begins working with Boeing to open up new business in Russia. Later in the year, Clinton visits Russia and makes what she describes as a “shameless pitch” to a Russian airline to buy Boeing passenger jets. In 2010, Boeing gets the deal, selling 50 jets worth $3.7 billion.
  • In 2009, China is preparing to host the 2010 world’s fair. However, it seems the US exhibit promoting US businesses will have to be cancelled, since the private fundraising efforts are going poorly. A State Department official warns that there likely will be “extremely widespread” consequences to both diplomatic and commercial interests if the US effort fails. Emails show that Clinton and other State Department officials push Boeing and other US companies to donate, and Boeing eventually gives $2 million, helping make the exhibit a success. US exposition organizer Nick Winslow will later say that he didn’t feel any political pressure, but, “Knowing that it was important to the State Department, did that help? Of course it did.”
  • In August 2010, Boeing donates $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation to support education projects in Haiti.
  • In February 2011, Boeing wins a $35 billion tanker-refueling contract for the US Air Force. Clinton had supported the bid. When she hears Boeing won, she writes in an email, “I’m pleased.”
  • In 2011, the State Department approves a series of weapons deals between Boeing and the government of Kuwait. For instance, Boeing is the prime contractor in a $690 million deal to give Kuwait military transport planes.
  • Later in 2011, Bill Clinton is paid $175,000 by the Kuwait America Foundation for a speech. Boeing is a sponsor of the event. Kuwait also continues to donate millions to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary is secretary of state.
  • In late 2011, Clinton’s State Department approves an enormous weapons deal for Saudi Arabia. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing will deliver $30 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to that country, including 84 new F-15 fighter jets built by Boeing. The deal takes place despite strong opposition from Israel, as well as concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and lack of democracy. But according to a State Department official, Clinton made the deal a personal “top priority.”
  • Saudi Arabia is prohibited from donating money to the Clinton Foundation during her time as secretary of state as part of a deal Clinton signed with the White House in 2008. But in previous years, the Saudi government gave at least $10 million to foundation. Additionally, private Saudi citizens and Saudi royals give millions to the foundation while she is in office. Then the Saudi government resumes donating to the foundation after she leaves office.
  • Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    Boeing International President Shephard Hill (left) speaks alongside Hillary Clinton in Shanghai, China, on May 22, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images)

    In early 2012, the State Department helps Boeing secure major deals in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

  • In July 2012, Boeing pays Bill Clinton $250,000 for a speech.
  • In September 2012, Bill Clinton gives another speech sponsored by Boeing. He is paid $200,000.
  • In 2013, Boeing sponsored an event in St. Louis called Clinton Global Initiative University. It’s not clear how much Boeing donates, but it gives between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the event is part of the foundation’s work.

Lisa Gilbert, of the government integrity watchdog group Public Citizen, will later say that what the Clintons were doing likely was not illegal. However, it seems “unsavory.” (The Seattle Times, 3/21/2016Similar patterns can be seen with other US weapons manufacturers, like Lockheed, and other foreign governments, like Oman and Qatar. Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics, will later say, “These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment. Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?” (The International Business Times, 5/26/2015)

February 9, 2009: Clinton warns all State Department employees not to send classified information in unsecured emails.

Clinton sends a cable to all US diplomatic posts about the proper use of email. It includes the following point, referenced from the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM): “Unclassified material, including Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU), may be transmitted in email on the Internet. However, in accordance with 12 FAM 544.3, individual employees should decide whether unencrypted email provides appropriate protection for the specific information they are transmitting. Classified information must be transmitted on the classified intranet, except as provided in 5 FAM 731 (h).

It also warns, “Use your government email address for business purposes only.” (WikiLeaks, 2012)

March 2009—2014: The Clintons and the Clinton Foundation benefit after Hillary Clinton helps Swiss bank UBS.

Clinton appears with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, (left), at the State Department on July 31, 2009, announcing a settlement in a legal case involving UBS. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Clinton appears with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, (left), at the State Department on July 31, 2009, announcing a settlement in a legal case involving UBS. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

In 2007, a whistleblower gave information about thousands of US citizens who were putting money in Swiss mega-bank UBS to avoid paying US taxes. The IRS [Internal Revenue Service] sues UBS to learn the identities of US citizens with secret bank accounts. UBS faces either complying and violating strict Swiss banking secrecy laws, or refusing and facing criminal charges in a US court.

The US government decides to treat this as a political matter with the Swiss government instead of just a legal problem with the bank. In March 2009, Clinton meets with Swiss officials and brings up a number of unrelated issues where the US wants help from Switzerland, such as using Swiss neutrality to help release a US citizen imprisoned in Iran. The Swiss help with these other issues, and appear to get concessions in the UBS case in return.

On July 31, 2009, Clinton announces a legal settlement: the US government dismisses the IRS lawsuit, and UBS turns over data on only 4,450 accounts instead of the 52,000 accounts worth $18 billion wanted by the IRS.

Some US politicians criticize the deal. For instance, Senator Carl Levin (D), says, “It is disappointing that the US government went along.” A senior IRS official will later complain that many US citizens escaped scrutiny due to the deal.

Former president Bill Clinton and UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann, took the stage at a Clinton Global Initiative event in 2011. (Credit: Brian Kersey /UPI/ Landov)

Former president Bill Clinton and UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann, took the stage at a Clinton Global Initiative event in 2011. (Credit: Brian Kersey /UPI/ Landov)

UBS then helps the Clintons in various ways:

  • Total UBS donations to the Clinton Foundation grow from less than $60,000 through 2008 to about $600,000 by the end of 2014.
  • Starting in early 2010, UBS works with the foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, and lends the programs $32 million. In 2012, the foundation will tout these programs as one of their major accomplishments.
  • UBS gives the foundation $100,000 for a charity golf tournament.
  • In 2011, UBS pays Bill Clinton $350,000 for discussing the economy at a UBS event.
  • Also in 2011, UBS pays Bill Clinton $1.5 million to take part in eleven question and answer sessions with a UBS official, making UBS his largest corporate source of speech income.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will comment, “there is no evidence of any link between Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the case and the bank’s donations to [the foundation], or its hiring of Mr. Clinton. But her involvement with UBS is a prime example of how the Clintons’ private and political activities overlap.”

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and Democrat, will say of the Clintons, “They’ve engaged in behavior to make people wonder: What was this about? Was there something other than deciding the merits of these cases?” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2015)

The Atlantic magazine will comment, “If you’re Bill Clinton and your wife has recently intervened in her capacity as a cabinet secretary to help a giant corporation avert a significant threat to its bottom-line, the very least you could do, if only to avoid the appearance of impropriety, is to avoid negotiating seven-figure paydays with that same corporation. [The fact he didn’t do that] is particularly jaw-dropping because ultra-wealthy Bill Clinton has virtually unlimited opportunities to give lucrative speeches to any number of audiences not directly implicated by decisions that his wife made as secretary of state.” (The Atlantic, 7/31/2015)

March 17, 2009: An email shows that five State Department officials learned of Clinton’s private server after installing equipment in her house.

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

The State Department’s telecommunications manager Purcell Lee sends an email that contains the agenda for “Secretary Residential Installation Hotwash.” A “hotwash” is an after-action discussion. An attached file lists the electronic equipment in Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York house. It mentions the recent installation of a phone and fax machine for classified communications. But most crucially, it also mentions the existence of Clinton’s private email server with the comment: “Unclassified Partner System: Server: Basement Telephone Closet.” None of the agenda items refer to the existence of the unauthorized server.

Lee’s email is sent to four other State Department officials: Kevin Wagganer, John Bentel, Andrew Scott, and Bruce Duncan. (US Department of State, 6/20/2016)

Bentel is the director of the department’s bureau of Information Resources Management (IRM). He will later deny having any knowledge of Clinton’s server and some will claim he participated in a cover-up, telling others that she had legal authority to use it when she did not. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

May 2009—February 2013: Clinton’s computer technician lies about his outside income running Clinton’s private server.

In May 2009, begins working for the State Department while continuing to be paid by Clinton for managing her private server. However, he does not list his outside income in the required personal financial disclosures he files each year. This continues until his full time department job ends in February 2013, the same month Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state ends. In early 2015, a State Department official will say that the department has “found no evidence that he ever informed the department that he had outside income.” (The Washington Post, 9/5/2015To lie on such a financial disclosure form is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. (US Legal Code, 2/24/2012)

October 2, 2009: New regulations require that all government emails must be preserved.

The US Code of federal regulations on handling electronic records is updated: “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

In 2015, Jason Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), will comment that the rules get stricter in 2013. But even prior to that, “the use of a private [email] account was to be rare and occasional, and not to be the norm.” Using a private account “without using an official account is inconsistent with the Federal Records Act.” He adds, “To solely use a personal e-mail for four years [as Clinton did] is something that is highly unusual.” (Bloomberg News, 3/3/2015)

April 1, 2010: An NSA official is convicted for possessing a document not marked classified.

Thomas Drake (Credit: H. Darr Beiser / USA Today)

Thomas Drake (Credit: H. Darr Beiser / USA Today)

Whistleblower Thomas Drake, a former senior National Security Agency (NSA) official, is indicted under the Espionage Act for keeping an NSA email printout at home that was not marked as classified. Drake will later plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

In contrast to this case, Clinton and some of her supporters will later claim that she does not face legal jeopardy if the emails on her private server were not explicitly labeled as classified. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

Late 2010: A State Department official falsely claims Clinton’s computer system has legal approval and warns staffers never to speak of the issue again.

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

Two members of Clinton’s senior executive staff will later claim they discussed their concerns about Clinton’s use of a personal email address, each in a separate meeting with John Bentel, the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat for Information Resource Management.

In one of those meetings, Bentel says that Clinton’s personal communication system has been reviewed and approved by the department’s legal staff and that the matter is not to be discussed any further. However, a later State Department inspector general investigation will find no evidence that any department lawyers ever make such a review.

The other staff member who raised concerns about the server is told by Bentel that the mission of his office is to support Clinton and, in the words of a May 2016 inspector general report, “instruct[s] the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”

Bentel will later claim he has no memory of any of these issues and will refused to be interviewed by any investigators. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (Yahoo News, 5/25/2016)

June 2, 2011: The White House says all work matters need to be done on government email accounts.

Jay Carney (Credit: CNN)

Jay Carney (Credit: CNN)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is asked to address news reports that Chinese hackers have targeted the personal email accounts of US officials. He says, “Well, the US government policy, certainly, the administration policy that is effective here, is that all of our work is conducted on work email accounts. […] We are definitely instructed that we need to conduct all of our work on our government accounts as part of the Presidential Records Act. I’m not aware of any law or rule that suggests that government workers cannot have separate private email accounts [for personal use].” (The White House, 6/2/2011)

September 2, 2012: Blumenthal appears to violate US law by attempting to influence Clinton about an election in Georgia.

Bidzina Ivanishvili (Credit: Forbes Magazine)

Bidzina Ivanishvili (Credit: Forbes Magazine)

Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton a long intelligence email to Clinton about an upcoming election in the country of Georgia. It includes a message from John Kornblum, an international lawyer who was ambassador to Germany under President Bill Clinton. A billionaire named Bidzina Ivanishvili is opposing incumbent President Mikheil Saakashvili. Ivanishvili calls for closer relations with Russia, while Saakashvili is supported by the US.

Despite this, Blumenthal and Kornblum clearly favor Ivanishvili in the email, and the email mentions that Kornblum is employed advising Ivanishvili’s political party. The email even includes a personal letter to Clinton from Ivanishvili himself asking for her to change State Department policy to favor him.

In 2015, Gawker will report that this email could be in violation of a federal law designed to prevent foreign powers from covertly wielding influence within the US. Anyone attempting to influence US policy must register as foreign operatives, and records show that neither Blumenthal nor Kornblum do so.

Four lawyers who specialize in this legal field will tell Gawker that both of them should have registered before attempting to influence Clinton. For instance, one attorney says that this email is precisely “the type of activity that is meant to be captured” by the law, even if the lobbying stopped with just that one email. The maximum penalty for violating the law is ten years in prison.

Blumenthal sends the email twice under slightly different names, but there is no apparent reply from Clinton. (Gawker, 3/30/2015) (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) (US Department of State, 11/30/2015)

September 18, 2012—February 2013: A nuclear energy whistleblower is targeted for allegedly having classified information on a computer.

Lawrence Criscione (Credit: Michael Weaver / McClatchy)

Lawrence Criscione (Credit: Michael Weaver / McClatchy)

On September 18, 2012,  NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] engineer Lawrence Criscione sends a long letter to NRC chair Allison Macfarlane about dangerous problems at the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina. He shares the letter with 13 members of Congress.

One day later, the NRC’s inspector general begins investigating if he illegally made information marked “For Official Use Only” public. Another government agency soon rules that such information is an “unofficial administrative marking that has no legal import.”

But in February 2013, the inspector general nevertheless asks the Justice Department to charge him with misusing his government computer to transmit sensitive information. Several days later, the department decides not to prosecute him. But it takes another 13 months before he is formally cleared.

Speaking in 2015, Criscione believes he was unfairly targeted to discourage other whistleblowers. Referring to Clinton’s email scandal, he says, “If a career civil servant had a server with ‘top secret’ information in his basement, he would without a doubt do time” in prison. (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

February 2013: Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano concludes his full-time employment at the State Department.

Gartner Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. (Credit: public domain)

Gartner Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. (Credit: public domain)

Like many other Clinton aides, Pagliano leaves the department the same month Clinton ends her term as secretary of state. Pagliano was secretly being paid for managing Clinton’s private server since May 2009. He remains a State Department contractor doing work on “mobile and remote computing functions.” (The Washington Post, 9/5/2015) 

Pagliano also starts working for Gartner, a global IT [information technology] company, though it’s unclear how much he works for Gartner and how much for the State Department.

He will lose his State Department contractor status some time after September 2015, when he pleads the Fifth Amendment before a Congressional committee. (The Daily Caller, 3/3/2016)

Around February 1, 2013: Clinton fails to turn over her work emails as she leaves office, despite a legal requirement to do so.

When Clinton ends her tenure as secretary of state, she is required by law to turn over all of her work-related documents to the State Department, including emails, but she fails to do so.

Clinton says farewell as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. (Credit: Polaris)

Clinton says farewell as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. (Credit: Polaris)

A May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude, “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any federal records she created and received on her personal account… At a minimum, [she] should have surrendered all emails dealing with department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”

The report will note that at least she turned over 30,000 emails in December 2014, 21 months later. However, the report will also conclude that the emails she gave then are “incomplete,” because many of her work-related emails have since been discovered through other means, such as being found in other email inboxes. For instance, although her tenure began on January 21, 2009, and she started using her email account by January 28, no emails received prior to March 17, 2009, were turned over, nor were any emails sent prior to April 12, 2009. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

Shortly After February 1, 2013: Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills leaves blank a required form stating that she has returned all of her work-related documents.

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Vimeo)

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Vimeo)

All State Department officials are required to sign the “separation statement,” known as the OF-109 form. Those who sign the OF-109 form acknowledge they could be subject to “criminal penalties” for not turning over the documents.

In 2015, the Daily Caller will sue the State Department for several OF-109 forms. They will be given a form with Mills’ name on it, but with the date and signature spaces left blank. Mills used a private Yahoo email account for at least some of her government work.

A State Department official will neither explain the discrepancy nor confirm that Mills did not sign the agreement.

Clinton apparently never turns in her form. Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, does sign her form in February 2013, but she doesn’t turn over her private, work-related emails. (The Daily Caller, 11/13/2015) (The Hill, 11/13/2015) (US Department of State, 9/11/2015)

February 13, 2013: Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin signs a pledge that she has given all of her work-related documents back to the State Department, but she didn’t.

Huma Abedin on her cell phone in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on January 3, 2016. (Credit: Rick Friedman / Corbis)

Huma Abedin on her cell phone in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on January 3, 2016. (Credit: Rick Friedman / Corbis)

All State Department officials are required to sign the “separation statement” when they leave the department, known as the OF-109 form. However, Abedin has a private email address (huma@clintonemail.com) on the same private server that Clinton does, and when she leaves the department in February 2013 she does not turn over any of her emails from it, including work-related emails.

Her emails will not be handed over until a couple of years later, after various lawsuits and investigations. In signing the form, Abedin acknowledges she could be subject to “criminal penalties” for lying on the document.

The Hill will later report, “It’s unclear whether Abedin would be subject to prosecution, given the unusual nature of Clinton’s private email setup.” (The Hill, 11/13/2015) (US Department of State, 9/11/2015)

March 20, 2013: Gawker publishes an article that reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address and notes it “could be a major security breach.”

The article notes that the hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal. “[W]hy was Clinton apparently receiving emails at a non-governmental email account? The address Blumenthal was writing to was hosted at the domain ‘clintonemail.com’, which is privately registered via Network Solutions. It is most certainly not a governmental account. […] And there seems to be little reason to use a different account other than an attempt to shield her communications with Blumenthal from the prying eyes of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requesters.

Neither the State Department nor the White House would immediately comment on whether the White House knew that Blumenthal was digitally whispering in Clinton’s ear, or if the emails were preserved as the law requires. And if, as it appears, Blumenthal’s emails contained information that was classified, or ought to have been treated as such, it could be a major security breach for Clinton to have allowed it to be sent to her on an open account, rather than through networks the government has specifically established for the transmission of classified material.” (Gawker, 3/20/2013)

Early June 2013: State Department officials discover Clinton’s personal email address and then fail in their legal obligation to share her emails with others.

Heather Higginbottom (Credit: public domain)

Heather Higginbottom (Credit: public domain)

State Department staff reviewing material to possibly give to Congressional committees examining the September 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack discover emails sent by former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to a personal email address belonging to Clinton.

In ensuing weeks, senior department officials discuss if the Federal Records Act (FRA) requires the department to turn over emails from such personal accounts. In fact, the act does require emails to be turned over if they are work-related. However, an internal investigation will later determine that the department does not notify the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of a potential loss of records at any point in time. Furthermore, none of Clinton’s emails are given to any Congressional committee in 2013, nor are they provided in response to any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that year.

According to department official Heather Higginbottom, Secretary of State John Kerry is not a part of these discussions or decisions. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

Around this debate period, on August 7, 2013, department officials find 17 FOIA requests relating to Clinton in their records, with some of them specifically requesting Clinton emails. But none of the requesters are told about any of Clinton’s emails  apparently due to the result of this debate.

Clinton’s personal email address will be rediscovered in May 2014 after a document request from the new House Benghazi Committee.

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)

November 2013 and December 2014: Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall and his law partner get security clearances, but they probably aren’t valid for the Clinton emails he possesses.

Katherine Turner (Credit: Williams & Connolly)

Katherine Turner (Credit: Williams & Connolly)

Kendall gets a “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI) security clearance from the Justice Department in November 2013. He and his Williams & Connolly law partner Katherine Turner also get a “top secret” clearance from the State Department in December 2014. This is so Kendall can review information related to the House Benghazi Committee’s on-going investigation.

At some point in late 2014, Kendall, Cheryl Mills (Clinton’s chief of staff), and Heather Samuelson (another lawyer) read and sort through all of Clinton’s over 60,000 emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state. At least 22 of these will later be determined to have contained “top secret” information. Kendall then keeps a copy of over 30,000 of Clinton’s emails, including the 22 top secret ones, in a safe in the office he shares with Turner.

Only in July 2015 will government security officials give him first one safe and then a second more secure safe to hold the thumb drive containing Clinton’s emails, before Kendall gives up the thumb drive in August 2015.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R) will later suggest, “Neither Mr. Kendall nor Ms. Turner have a security clearance at a sufficient level to be a custodian of TS/SCI material. Thus, it appears Secretary Clinton sent TS/SCI material to unauthorized persons.” Politico will later point out, “Clearances, especially Top Secret ones, are normally granted in connection with specific matters and do not entitle recipients to all information classified at that level…” (Politico, 8/25/2015) 

Furthermore, Clinton’s emails are handed over to the State Department on December 5, 2014, making it likely that at least some of the time-consuming reading and sorting of 60,000 emails took place prior to the security clearances that were given in November 2014. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) 

John Schindler, a former NSA counterintelligence official, will later comment, “TS/SCI information must always be placed in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), a special, purpose-built room designed to protect against physical and electronic intrusion. A full-blown SCIF surely Kendall did not possess. […] Anything less is a clear violation of Federal law. Hillary has placed herself and her attorney in a precarious position here.” (John Schindler, 8/26/2015)

Additionally, it is unknown if Mills and Samuelson, who read and sorted all of Clinton’s emails with Kendall, had the security clearances to do so.

January 22, 2014: Guccifer is arrested in Bucharest, Romania, for his hacking activities.

 Romanian authorities arrested Marcel Lazăr Lehel aka Guccifer at his home on January 22, 2014. (Credit: Gawker)

Romanian authorities arrested Marcel Lazăr Lehel aka Guccifer at his home on January 22, 2014. (Credit: Gawker)

Later in the year, he is convicted of various hacking crimes and gets a seven-year sentence in Romania. He hacked into the email accounts of many famous people, including Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal in March 2013. (Reuters, 4/1/2016(The New York Times, 11/10/2014)

February 7, 2014: The State Department says classified information on devices like BlackBerrys are prohibited.

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

A reporter asks department spokesperson Jen Psaki if “State Department officials routinely use encrypted phones, mobile phones, for their conversations…” Psaki says in her reply, “Classified processing and classified conversation on a personal digital assisted device is prohibited.” (US Department of State, 2/7/2014) 

These comments are made before the controversy about Clinton’s use of a private BlackBerry for government emails begins.

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)

June 19, 2014: A Naval officer pleads guilty to storing classified documents on a home computer.

Chief Petty Officer Lyle White (right) signals to Australian Able Seaman Adam Hubbard as he prepares to rappel from an HH-60H Seahawk helicopter at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, on July 8, 2006. (Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Rebecca J. Moat, US Navy / Department of Defense)

Chief Petty Officer Lyle White (right) signals to Australian Able Seaman Adam Hubbard as he prepares to rappel from an HH-60H Seahawk helicopter at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, on July 8, 2006. (Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Rebecca J. Moat, US Navy / Department of Defense)

Naval Chief Petty Officer Lyle White pleads guilty to violating military regulations because he took classified documents from his Navy office and stored them on a hard drive in his house. He says he kept the documents out of convenience, because they were useful for when he was training other soldiers. White is sentenced to 60 days in prison and fined $10,000. The sentence is suspended, but a federal espionage conviction will remain on his record. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Late July 2014—December 5, 2014: The Clinton lawyer who sorts Clinton’s emails appears to have no security clearance and no special skills to do so.

Heather Samuelson (Credit: LinkedIn)

Heather Samuelson (Credit: LinkedIn)

Between late July 2014 and December 5, 2014, Clinton lawyer Heather Samuelson spends “several months” sorting Clinton’s emails into work-related and personal, according to an account she will later give to the FBI.

Samuelon allegedly does the vast majority of the sorting by herself. Clinton will later claim that she had no direct involvement in determining which emails to keep or delete and left that process to her lawyers. Her personal lawyer David Kendall, her lawyer and former chief of staff Cheryl Mills allegedly only assist Samuelson when there is an email she is uncertain about.

Samuelson is said to be a Clinton loyalist, and she worked under Clinton in the State Department in the White House Liaison Office. But she has no background in federal record keeping, and it is unclear if she has any security clearance. (Politico, 9/4/2015)

In the FBI’s final report on their Clinton email investigation, released on September 2016, there will be no mention of Samuelson having any kind of security clearance when she sorts the emails. However, the report will mention when other people who handled Clinton’s emails did have security clearances, such as Bill Clinton aide Oscar Flores.

It will later emerge that thousaands of emails Samuelson sorted as personal were recovered after being deleted and found to be work-related. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

August 2014: Senior State Department officials hold face-to-face negotiations with Clinton’s lawyers and advisers to gain access to all of her emails, but without results.

In July 2014, the State Department contacted Clinton’s staff and requested copies of all her work-related emails from her time as secretary of state. In this month, those efforts intensify with the face-to-face negotiations. However, the emails still are not handed over, so the State Department will formally request them in late October. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The New York Times, 3/5/2015)

October 28, 2014: The State Department formally asks Clinton to turn over her emails from her time as secretary of state.

Starting in July 2014, State Department officials privately reached out to Clinton’s lawyers and advisers to gain access to her work-related emails on her private server. Face-to-face meetings on the issue followed in August. But with the emails still not appearing, on October 28, 2014, the Department formally asks Clinton for the emails. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

November 24, 2014: President Obama signs into law an updated Federal Records Act requiring public officials to forward all work-related emails to their government address so they will be incorporated into official records systems.

President Obama signs the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments on November 26th, 2014. (Credit: National Archives Press Release)

President Obama signs the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments on November 26th, 2014. (Credit: National Archives Press Release)

This does not apply to Clinton’s time as secretary of state. (Politico, 11/26/2014)

December 5, 2014: 50,000 pages of printed emails from Clinton’s personal account are delivered to the State Department by Clinton’s staff.

They contain 30,490 emails that Clinton deems to be work related. But she will later reveal that she deleted another 31,830 emails that were personal and private. It is not known exactly when those emails were deleted. Apparently, Clinton hands over only paper copies of the emails that she does hand over. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

Cheryl Mills,, who used to be Clinton’s chief of staff but now is one of her lawyers, writes a letter to the State Department on this day that apparently accompanies the release. In it, according to the FBI, she asserts “that it was Clinton’s practice to email State [Department] officials at their government email accounts for official business, and, therefore, [the State Department] already had records of Clinton’s emails preserved within [their] recordkeeping systems.”

The department’s inspector general will conclude in a May 2016 report that this was a proper appropriate method of preserving record emails, and Clinton should have turned over all her emails when she left office. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

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)

January 25, 2015: A lawsuit filed this day will result in the release of all of Clinton’s work emails.

Judge Rudolph Contreras (Credit: The National Law Journal)

Judge Rudolph Contreras (Credit: The National Law Journal)

Jason Leopold of Vice News files a lawsuit seeking all of Clinton’s emails during her time as secretary of state. (Politico, 3/28/2015) Leopold first requested the emails in a November 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. (Vice News, 2/29/2016

As a result of this lawsuit, in May 2015, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras will order rolling production and release of the work-related emails in the State Department’s possession in monthly batches. (Vice News, 5/19/2015)

March 2015: A State Department official gives Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall written permission to retain copies of the emails Clinton turned over in December 2014.

The walls, floor, ceiling, and door of a SCIF room are made out of solid metal before an outer facade that looks like a normal room is added. (Credit: scifsolutions.com)

The walls, floor, ceiling, and door of a SCIF room are made out of solid metal before an outer facade that looks like a normal room is added. (Credit: scifsolutions.com)

However, that official, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, says that decision might be revisited if it is determined that the emails contained classified information. It will later be determined that some of Clinton’s emails contained “top secret” information, and all such information needs to be kept in a special, purpose-built room called a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), which Kendall does not have. Even with permission from Kennedy, Kendall would still be in violation of federal law for having top secret information outside a SCIF. (Politico, 8/25/2015) (John Schindler, 8/26/2015)

March 2, 2015: A New York Times front-page article reveals to the public for the first time that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her emails while secretary of state.

A snippet from the front page of the NYT on March 3, 2015. (Credit: NYT)

A snippet from the front page of the NYT on March 3, 2015. (The headline published on the website, is different than the print version published the next morning.) (Credit: New York Times)

The article by Michael Schmidt is entitled, “Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules.” It appears as the main front page headline on the printed version of the New York Times the next morning with a slightly different title.

This article also reveals that Clinton’s aides took no action to preserve emails sent or received from her as required by the Federal Records Act. It points out that she left the State Department in February 2013, but didn’t give the department her work-related emails until December 2014. It suggests she may have violated federal regulations by exclusively using a personal email account for public business while secretary of state.

The Times further reveals that existence of Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by the House Benghazi Committee when it sought correspondence between Clinton and her aides. (The New York Times, 3/2/2015)

It will later be frequently assumed that the article also reveals that her email account was hosted on a private server. However, that will be first revealed two days later in an Associated Press article.

March 2, 2015: A former government expert can’t think of any valid reason for Clinton to use a personal email account for all her work.

Jason R. Baron (Credit: E-Discovery)

Jason R. Baron (Credit: E-Discovery)

Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) comments on that day’s news report that Clinton used a private email account on a private server for all her email communications while secretary of state: “It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario – short of nuclear winter – where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business.”

Baron, who worked at NARA from 2000 to 2013, adds, “I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business.” (The New York Times, 3/2/2015)

March 2, 2015: Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill incorrectly claims that Clinton’s email practices followed “both the letter and spirit of the rules.”

Nick Merrill (Credit: Skidmore College)

Nick Merrill (Credit: Skidmore College)

Merrill’s comment appears in the March 2, 2015 New York Times story revealing that Clinton used a private email account when she was secertary of state. He won’t say why she did this. (The New York Times, 3/2/2015)

However, on March 12, 2015, Douglas Cox, a professor who focuses on records preservation laws, says: “While Clinton may have technical arguments for why she complied with [the various] rules that have been discussed in the news, the argument that Clinton complied with the letter and spirit of the law is unsustainable.” (Politifact, 3/12/2015)

In May 2016, the State Department’s inspector general will conclude that department officials “did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.” Her daily use of a private email account for work matters is also determined to be in violation of department rules. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

Shortly After March 2, 2015: The main government watchdog trying to get Clinton’s emails is silenced by a Clinton ally.

Louis Mayberg (Credit: AISH International)

Louis Mayberg (Credit: AISH International)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had been pursuing the public release of all of Clinton’s emails. CREW has been one of the top political watchdog organizations, targeting unethical and corrupt behavior in both major political parties. But in August 2014, CREW was effectively taken over by David Brock, a close Clinton ally who runs the main Super PAC [political action committee] for her presidential campaign.

In December 2012, CREW filed the first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state, and that began a long legal battle over the issue.

However, after Clinton’s email scandal becomes public following a New York Times story on it on March 2, 2015, the new CREW leadership decides not to pursue the issue. Anne Weismann, CREW’s chief counsel who led the search for the emails, will later comment, “It was made quite clear to me that CREW and I would not be commenting publicly on the issue of Secretary Clinton using a personal email account to conduct agency business. The fact that we said nothing on that subject says volumes.” Weismann soon quits CREW as a result.

Others also quit. Louis Mayberg, a cofounder of CREW, quits in March 2015, saying, “I have no desire to serve on a board of an organization devoted to partisanship.” He also says that CREW’s lack of action regarding the email scandal is another key factor in his departure. (Bloomberg News, 4/11/2016)

March 3, 2015: President Obama’s first press secretary says Clinton should have been aware of the rules to preserve emails.

Robert Gibbs (Credit: University of Delaware)

Robert Gibbs (Credit: University of Delaware)

Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary for President Obama, calls Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account to conduct work “highly unusual.” He says this is especially so considering how frequently cabinet-level officials are told to preserve government correspondence. He says White House officials attend numerous briefings informing them about the need to preserve their email, “making sure it’s part of your official account.” (The Today Show, 3/3/2015)

March 3, 2015: An expert says Clinton violated “the letter and the spirit of the law” by keeping her private emails secret.

The Time magazine cover on March 23, 2015, is captioned: "The Clinton Way - They write their own rules. Will it work this time?" (Credit: Time Magazine)

The Time magazine cover on March 23, 2015, is captioned: “The Clinton Way – They write their own rules. Will it work this time?” (Credit: Time Magazine)

Douglas Cox, a professor at the City University of New York School of Law who focuses on records preservation laws, says that while there was no specific law preventing Clinton from using a private email account, there have long been general rules on the books safeguarding “against the removal or loss of records. […] In a situation where she’s creating federal records outside the custody of the State Department and then keeping them there, that I think could violate the more general rules that have been there for long time. To me, it’s a bit mind-boggling.” (The Hill, 3/3/2015) 

Cox’s comment appears to be made in direct response to Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill’s claim the day before that Clinton’s email practices followed “both the letter and spirit of the rules.”

One week later, Cox adds, “While Clinton may have technical arguments for why she complied with each of these and the other rules that have been discussed in the news, the argument that Clinton complied with the letter and spirit of the law is unsustainable.” (Politifact, 3/12/2015)

March 3, 2015: An unrelated legal case could shed light on why Clinton might have wanted to use a private server.

John Holdren (Credit: The Associated Press)

John Holdren (Credit: The Associated Press)

On this day, US District Judge Gladys Kessler denies a petition to force the Obama administration to search the emails that White House science adviser John Holdren kept on a non-government server. A government lawyer argued that because the government didn’t possess the emails, it couldn’t be asked to produce them under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws. Kessler agrees, saying, “That is precisely why agencies admonish their employees to use their official accounts for government business.” (Bloomberg News, 3/5/2015)

Such rulings in unrelated cases like this one suggest that Clinton could have kept all of her emails private permanently had it not been for the public scandal that occurred.

An appeals court will overturn this ruling in July 2016, setting the precedent that privately stored emails, such as Clinton’s, are subject to FOIA laws after all. (The Associated Press, 7/5/2016)

March 3, 2015: Government work on private emails must be preserved.

Laura Diachenko (Credit: public domain)

Laura Diachenko (Credit: public domain)

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) spokesperson Laura Diachenko says that since 2009, federal regulations have stated that “agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.” (The New York Times, 3/3/2015)