May 3, 2000: Secretary of State Madeline Albright chastises all State Department employees for being careless about security.

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Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Credit: Politico)

Albright gives a speech in front of 800 State Department officials in Washington, DC, that is also broadcast to other department officials in other states and countries. She says, ”I don’t care how skilled you are as a diplomat, how brilliant you may be at meetings, or how creative you are as an administrator, if you are not professional about security, you are a failure.” Her speech comes after some recently reported security breaches in her department, including the disappearance of a laptop containing classified information. She adds, “You may have seen reports indicating that I am furious about these incidents. Well, I am, and I hope you are, too.”

According to the New York Times, US diplomats privately acknowledge that they are sometimes cavalier about security. One unnamed longtime department official says, ”Nobody cares about security within the department.” (The New York Times, 5/4/2000)

May 25, 2016: Clinton and her top aides refused to be interviewed for the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices.

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The nine former Clinton aides who were not interviewed by the Office of Inspector General (in order as listed).

The report released on this day notes that it interviewed “dozens” of present and former State Department officials, including current Secretary of State John Kerry and the three secretaries prior to Clinton: Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. However, Clinton refused to be interviewed. Furthermore, nine of Clinton’s former top aides were singled out in the report for not being interviewed:

  • Cheryl Mills, chief of staff;
  • Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff for operations;
  • Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for policy, and then director of policy planning;
  • Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary for strategic communication;
  • John Bentel, director of the Information Resources Management (IRM) office;
  • Bryan Pagliano, special advisor to the deputy chief information officer (who also privately managed Clinton’s private server);
  • Heather Samuelson, senior advisor to the department (who determined which of Clinton’s emails to delete in late 2014);
  • Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources; and
  • Justin Cooper, whom the report calls “an individual based in New York who provided technical support for Secretary Clinton’s personal email system but who was never employed by the Department.”

The only other person singled out by the report for refusing to be interviewed is Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

The report was many months in the making. But on May 8, 2016, only two weeks before the report’s release, Clinton claimed in an interview that when it came to her emails, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime. And I’ve encouraged all of… my assistants to be very forthcoming.” (CNN, 5/8/2016) 

Later in the day, Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon defends Clinton’s decision not to cooperate with the report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the [FBI investigation] and so, accordingly, Hillary Clinton has said since last August that she’ll be happy to sit with them at whatever point they approach her, which has not happened yet.” However, he didn’t clarify why Clinton couldn’t have cooperated with both investigations, especially since the FBI hasn’t even contacted her yet. (Politico, 5/25/2016)

June 3, 2016: Former Secretary of State Albright says nobody will die due to Clinton’s emails.

Madeleine Albright appears on CNN's 'New Day' with Chris Cuomo on June 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Madeleine Albright appears on CNN’s ‘New Day’ with Chris Cuomo on June 3, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Madeline Albright tries to defend Clinton in her email scandal. “She has said she made a mistake, and nobody is going to die as a result of anything that happened on emails.” Albright then turns to criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Albright was secretary of state under Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton. (Politico, 6/3/2016)

July 2, 2016: Clinton claims she had no role whatsoever in the sorting of her emails, but her account differs from the known facts in one important detail.

In Clinton’s FBI interview on this day, she is asked about her role in sorting her emails from her tenure as secretary of state into work-related and personal emails.

An FBI report published in September 2016 will summarize her response: “In the fall of 2014, Clinton recalled receiving a letter from [the] State [Department] which was also sent to former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeline Albright. From the letter, Clinton understood State was concerned there were gaps in their records and requested Clinton’s assistance in filling those gaps. Clinton wanted to assist State, so she directed her legal team to assist in any way they could. Clinton expected her team to provide any work-related or arguably work-related emails to State; however, she did not participate in the development of the specific process to be used or discussions of the locations where her emails might exist. Additionally, Clinton was not consulted on specific emails as to their content being work-related or not. Clinton did not have any conversations regarding procedures if any potentially classified information was discovered during the review of her emails because she had no reason to believe classified information would be found in her email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Clinton’s testimony differs from the known facts in one important detail. She claims that she didn’t direct her lawyers (David Kendall, Cheryl Mill, and Heather Samuelson) to begin the sorting process until she was formally asked about her email records at the same time other former secretaries of states were. That took place on October 28, 2014. The sorted work-related emails were given to the State Department on December 5, 2014, a little over one month later. However, Samuelson, the Clinton lawyer who did most of the sorting, said in her FBI interview that the sorting process took “several months.”

Furthermore, it is known that after the State Department informally asked for Clinton’s emails, Samuelson was first given some of Clinton’s emails to sort (all of those involving .gov email addresses) in late July 2014, and then was given all of Clinton’s emails to complete the sorting in late September 2014.

August 18, 2016: Colin Powell allegedly recommended to Clinton that she should use a private email for non-classified communications.

The New York Times reports that Clinton mentioned this when she was interviewed by the FBI in July 2016. This account was included in the FBI’s notes about Clinton’s interview which was given to Congress on August 16, 2016. The content of notes are meant to be classified, but apparently someone in Congress leaked this account to the media.

In addition, the account is mentioned in an upcoming book about Bill Clinton written by journalist Joe Conason, who the Times calls “a longtime defender of the Clintons.”

According to Conason, the conversation took place in early 2009, several months after Clinton became secretary of state, and after she had already set up a private email server and was using a private email account for all her email communications. Clinton was at a dinner party hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which was also attended by former secretaries of state Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice.

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Former Secretaries of State (from left to right), Henry Kissinger James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry attend a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Conason writes, “Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat [Clinton]. Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, he thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.”

Additionally, Powell repeated the same advice in an email sent to Clinton around the same time, and after Clinton had already decided to use private email. Powell tells the Times that he has no recollection of the dinner conversation, but he does confirm sending an email giving that advice.

However, the Times notes that the situations between when Powell was secretary of state and when Clinton was had significant differences. When Powell took over the State Department, it did not have a computer system for sending unclassified emails. But such a system was set up by the time Clinton took over in 2009. Additionally, the department rules changed, prohibiting the use of a private email account as anyone’s main mode of email communication. Furthermore, Powell used the AOL (AmericaOnline) email service, which kept back-up copies of all emails, while Clinton used her own private server, which meant nobody kept backups except her. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016) (NBC News, 8/19/2016)