April 11, 2006: A TSA whistleblower is improperly fired and accused of leaking classified information.

Robert MacLean (Credit: public domain)

Robert MacLean (Credit: public domain)

In early April 2006, TSA [Transportation Security Administration] official Robert MacLean appears on NBC News incognito to complain that the TSA is requiring sky marshals to wear suits and ties, making them easily identifiable to potential terrorists. But his identity is somehow discovered by the TSA, and he is fired on April 11, 2006.

The TSA claims he leaked “Sensitive Security Information.” However, he argues that the text message he leaked wasn’t marked as classified and was sent to sky marshals over regular phone lines.

In 2014, after years of legal battles, the US Supreme Court will rule that the Whistleblower Protection Act prevented his firing. A year later, he will be reinstated, but he says he is still fighting with the TSA.

In September 2015, he will note similarities between his case and Clinton’s email scandal, but he predicts she will have an easier time than he did. “There’s just a different standard for whistleblowers than for politicians.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

October 2, 2015: The company that makes a back-up of Clinton’s server data is given permission to share the data with the FBI.

Platte River Networks (PRN) has been managing Clinton’s private server since June 2013, and since that time they used the service of another company, Datto, Inc., to make back-ups of the data on the server. As a result, they need PRN’s permission to share data.

Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, Inc. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / HearstCTMedia

Austin McChord, founder and CEO of Datto, Inc. (Credit: Erik Traufmann / Hearst Connecticut Media)

On this day, David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer, and PRN agree to allow Datto to turn over the data from the backup server to the FBI. This is according to an unname person familiar with Datto’s storage, quoted in McClatchy Newspapers four days later.

Datto says in a statement that “with the consent of our client and their end user, and consistent with our policies regarding data privacy, Datto is working with the FBI to provide data in conjunction with its investigation.”

However, according to McClatchy Newspapers, the unnamed source says “that Platte River had set up a 60-day retention policy for the backup server, meaning that any emails to which incremental changes were made at least 60 days prior would be deleted and ‘gone forever.’ While the server wouldn’t have been ‘wiped clean,’ the source said, any underlying data likely would have been written over and would be difficult to recover.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)

It appears that the FBI does get data from Datto over the next couple of weeks, because an October 23, 2015 letter from Datto to the FBI will refer to some Datto back-up data that is now in the FBI’s possession. (US Congress, 9/12/2016)

A Datto back-up device was attached to the server, and the data was backed up to the “cloud” as well. It is unknown if the FBI ever gets useful data from the cloud copy.

February 18, 2016: Cheryl Mills still has her US government security clearance.

This is according to a State Department document. Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and it is widely believed that she is one of the people under FBI investigation for security-related issues. (US Department of State, 2/18/2016) 

McClatchy Newspapers has noted that “it’s common practice to suspend [security clearances] while an investigation or internal inquiry is ongoing, according to some national security experts on Capitol Hill and in private practice.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/30/2015) 

The New York Observer later calls it “miraculous” that Mills still has her security clearance, since “the very first thing normally done to any persons involved in an FBI espionage investigation…would be to pull their clearances at once.” (The New York Observer, 3/4/2016)

April 2016: Hacking attacks on the DNC and the Clinton campaign are first discovered.

On June 14, 2016, McClatchy Newspapers will report that a hacking attack on the DNC [Democratic National Committee] is discovered “in late April 2016, after staffers noticed unusual activity on the DNC’s computer network.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 6/14/2016) 

On June 21, 2016, Bloomberg News will report, “The Clinton campaign was aware as early as April that it had been targeted by hackers with links to the Russian government on at least four recent occasions, according to a person familiar with the campaign’s computer security.” (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

In late July 2016, it will be reported that the FBI warned the Clinton campaign in March 2016 that it was the target of hacking attempts, but the campaign refused to help the FBI stop them.