Her previous email was: firstname.lastname@example.org, also known as email@example.com (AT&T and Cingular are the same company). When she became secretary of state in early 2009, she created a new firstname.lastname@example.org address on her private server and set up her emails from her old address to be forwarded to her new address. According to Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill, she shuts down the old address around this time, with the last known email coming to that address on September 20, 2009. (Buzzfeed, 7/1/2015)
Marcel-Lehel Lazar, the hacker nicknamed “Guccifer,” exposes Clinton’s private email address email@example.com to the public on March 15, 2013. Clinton then changes her email address to firstname.lastname@example.org, though it is unclear exactly how quickly she does this. In 2015, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill will only say that her new address is registered some time in March 2013.
But this new address shows that it is still being run from the same private server, which would be even more vulnerable now that its existence has been publicly exposed. (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015) (USA Today, 5/22/2015) (Buzzfeed, 7/1/2015)
Clinton’s old mail account is still working on March 20, 2013, but her new account could have been made prior to that. (Gawker, 3/3/2015)
Clinton will make some security changes, but apparently not until the end of May 2013, when she will hire a new company to manage her server. (McClatchy Newspapers, 10/6/2015)
Nick Merrill, Clinton’s campaign press secretary, writes an email memo to Clinton’s other core staffers (including John Podesta and Robby Mook) who are developing a strategy that is described as being “designed to plant stories on Clinton’s decision-making process about whether to run for president.”
The email names Maggie Haberman who at the time writes for Politico, but will switch to covering the election for the New York Times one month later. Merrill writes, “We have ha[d] a very good relationship with Maggie Haberman of Politico over the last year. We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed. … [F]or this we think we can achieve our objective and do the most shaping by going to Maggie.”
The Intercept will be given this email and others by the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 in October 2016. The Intercept will comment that the email is just one of many “Internal strategy documents and emails among Clinton staffers” that “shed light on friendly and highly useful relationships between the campaign and various members of the US media, as well as the campaign’s strategies for manipulating those relationships. … At times, Clinton’s campaign staff not only internally drafted the stories they wanted published but even specified what should be quoted “on background” and what should be described as “on the record.” (The Intercept, 10/09/2016) (Wikileaks, 10/13/2016)
Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill writes an email to several Clinton staffers, describing two stories the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are preparing to publish that will be covering Clinton’s economic policies.
Merrill writes, “Both will have a dose of personnel name-gaming, and I’ve spoken to both to steer them towards progressive names, which they seem to both have on their own. I want to give both stories something on the record that addresses the core of the story, but also speaks some of the things we all felt needed a little proactive addressing, like inevitability and timing.”
Merrill then suggests the core of the stories will be about, “Increasing access to opportunity and fighting for upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers in every job she’s held. You heard it from her on the campaign trail last fall, where she laid out the challenges we face. She’s casting a wide net, talking to a wide range of people on a range of specific topics. There’s no red X on a calendar somewhere, but make no mistake, if she runs, she will take nothing for granted, she’ll present bold ideas, and she will fight for every vote.” (Wikileaks, 10/24/2016)
One week later, the New York Times publishes an article by Amy Chozick, entitled “Economic Plan is a Quandry for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” As hoped, the core of the story Merrill mentions in his email is covered in the article and is included as a quote by Bill Clinton’s previous treasury secretary:
“’It’s not enough to address upward mobility without addressing inequality,’ said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration who is among those talking with Mrs. Clinton. ‘The challenge, though, is to address inequality without embracing a politics of envy.’”
Chozick then “steers” readers to several other “progressive names” and writes, “Several of Mr. Clinton’s former advisers, including Alan S. Blinder, Robert E. Rubin and Mr. Summers, maintain influence. But Mrs. Clinton has cast a wide net that also includes Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality; Alan B. Krueger, a professor at Princeton and co-author of ‘Inequality in America’; and Peter R. Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who focuses on retirement issues, is also playing a prominent role.” (New York Times, 2/7/2015)
A few days after that, The Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Laura Meckler entitled, “Hillary Clinton Economic Plan to Chart Center-Left Course.” The article appears to be less “steered” by the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t include “a dose of personnel name-gaming” and offers a more balanced approach between what the liberal base of the Democratic party hopes for, as opposed to Clinton’s more centrist economic positions. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2015)
Because one of the recipients of this email is Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, it will be released by Wikileaks in October 2016.
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)
On March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported that Clinton exclusively used a private email address while she was secretary of state. Two days later, the Associated Press reported her account was hosted on a private server.
Two days after that, on March 6, 2015, Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill discusses the news in emails to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, as well other Clinton aides, including Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jennifer Palmieri, Philippe Reines, and Robby Mook.
Merrill writes, “Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term.” He suggests having Clinton take part in an email-related joke on television with comedian Larry Wilmore, “getting the human side of HRC for the cameras…” Additionally, “we’d have a set-the-record-straight piece to this that closes off that avenue of attack as well. It might be crazy, but it might also be the one-two punch we need right now.” The email will later be released by WikiLeaks due to the hacking of Podesta’s email account.(WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)
However, the story won’t die out, and will become a longstanding controversy instead. Clinton won’t publicly confirm or discuss her use of the email account and server until March 10, 2015. (The Associated Press, 10/11/2016)
Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill writes in an email to Clinton aides Jennifer Palmieri and Robby Mook: “[The] State [Department] just called to tell me that [New York Times reporter Michael] Schmidt seems to have what appear to be summaries of some of the exchanges in the 300 emails the [House Benghazi] committee has. He shared 2 anecdotes with State, one was an exchange that [Clinton] had with Jake [Sullivan] about some of the media stories following the attacks, the other an exchange that [Clinton] had with [Clinton aide Cheryl Mills] and [Clinton aide] Huma [Abedin] on non-state.gov accounts, but that was later forwarded to a state.gov account. Again, it appears that he does not have the email but that someone, likely from the committee, is slipping him cherry-picked characterizations of the exchanges. I haven’t heard directly from Schmidt yet but will circle back when I do.”
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri replies, “This is no bueno [no good]. This is some kind of bullshit. Adding [Clinton campaign chair] John [Podesta] to this chain. If [Representative Trey] Gowdy is doing selective leaks, we are in very different kind of warfare.” (WikiLeaks, 10/29/2016)
Schmidt broke a March 2, 2015 story that Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state. The State Department gave about 300 emails to the House Benghazi Committee, chaired by Gowdy (R).
Presumably, Palmieri is upset that someone is leaking emails to a reporter, not that the State Department is sharing this information about the leak with the Clinton campaign. The department will later claim it never worked to help Clinton with her email controversy, despite emails such as this one.
The email will be made public by WikiLeaks in October 2016.
Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill claims that when Clinton set up her private email server, “Robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques were employed over time as they became available. There was never evidence of a breach, nor any unauthorized intrusions.”
However, Merrill declines to say who exactly was in charge of maintaining the server and ensuring its security. Furthermore, it’s unclear what sort of security vetting that person or persons received, if any. Additionally, Merrill won’t reveal if other departments that protect government communications, such as the FBI or the NSA, were ever told of the server’s existence, and if so, if they helped provide security for it.
James A. Lewis, who held senior technology posts at the White House and State Department, comments that emails “that run on commercial services are vulnerable to collection. […] I don’t think people realize how much of this information is available to foreign intelligence services.” (Bloomberg News, 3/18/2015)
Contrary to Merrill’s claim, a May 2016 State Department inspector general report will reveal that there were hacker attacks on Clinton’s server.
Sid Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance, as well as a Clinton Foundation employee. Clinton says, “It’s important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what is on their minds. And he has been a friend of mine for a long time. He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances.” (Real Clear Politics, 5/20/2015)
One month later, Trey Gowdy (R), the head of the House Benghazi Committee, will say that newly released emails show that Clinton “was soliciting and regularly corresponding with Sidney Blumenthal – who was passing unvetted intelligence information about Libya from a source with a financial interest in the country. It just so happens these emails directly contradict her public statement that the messages from Blumenthal were unsolicited.” (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)
Furthermore, the New York Times will report one month later, “According to officials briefed on the matter, among the emails the State Department could not find [but were handed over by Blumenthal] were those in which Mrs. Clinton encouraged Mr. Blumenthal to keep sending memos or in which she asked additional questions about their contents.” For instance, in July 2012, Clinton told Blumenthal in an email, “thanks for keeping this stuff coming!” In a March 2012 email reply to him, she wrote, “This strains credulity based on what I know. Any more info about it?”
She frequently makes encouraging comments to his emails, such as “keep ’em coming” or “another keeper.”
On other occasions, Clinton appears to have wanted to follow Blumenthal’s suggestions. For instance, after he gave her public relations advice in an August 22, 2011 email over how to discuss the imminent fall of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, Clinton forwarded his email to an aide and wrote, “Sid makes a good case for what I should say.”
The Times will conclude that the emails “appear to show that Mrs. Clinton and her advisers took the memos and other advice from Mr. Blumenthal fairly seriously.”
However, despite this assessment from the Times, Nick Merrill, a spokesperson for Clinton, will say, “The idea that this runs counter to the assertion that the emails were unsolicited is a leap. Mr. Blumenthal began emailing of his own accord. Polite acknowledgments are not tantamount to solicitation.” (The New York Times, 6/29/2015)
Blumenthal was paid a $120,000 yearly salary by the Clinton Foundation, but didn’t seem to actually do any charity work there. (Politico, 5/28/2015)
Three days after the House Benghazi Committee released 60 newly uncovered emails between Clinton and Sid Blumenthal related to Libyan policy given to the committee by Blumenthal, the State Department announces Clinton didn’t provide them with the Blumenthal emails either. Clinton has claimed she gave all her work-related emails to the State Department. However, department officials say they are no longer certain she complied with their order to turn over all work emails.
The department confirms that ten emails and parts of five others from Blumenthal regarding Benghazi could not be located in their records, but that the 45 other, previously unreleased Libya-related Blumenthal emails published by the committee were in their records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clinton campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill seems to dispute it, saying, “She has turned over 55,000 pages of materials to the State Department, including all emails in her possession from Mr. Blumenthal.” (The Associated Press, 6/25/2015)
In August 2015, The New York Times will comment, “The Clinton campaign has not explained the discrepancy.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) More of Clinton’s work emails will be discovered later, including some found by the State Department. (The Hill, 3/24/2016)
Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the Clinton campaign, writes in an email that gets sent to over a dozen top Clinton aides, “As you all know, I had hoped that we could use the ‘server moment’ as an opportunity for her [Clinton] to be viewed as having taken a big step to deal with the email problem that would best position us for what is ahead. It is clear that she is not in same place…” (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
The “server moment” refers to Clinton turning over one of her private email servers to the FBI, which takes place on August 12, 2015. The Associated Press will later note, “At the time, the political aides were working out details of revealing that Clinton had directed her staff to hand over her server… Palmieri was writing other campaign aides to arrange for a Univision reporter to ask ‘a few questions on emails’ during an interview that would otherwise focus on college affordability.” (The Associated Press, 10/11/2016)
Other aides taking part in the email chain include Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson; Nick Merrill, David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, Robby Mook, Brian Fallon, Jake Sullivan, Katherine Turner, and John Podesta – but not Clinton. The email will later become public due to WikiLeaks publishing Podesta’s emails. (WikiLeaks, 10/10/2016)
It seems likely the dispute is due to Clinton not wanting to apologize for her behavior that caused her email controversy. She finally will apologize in early September 2015, but it will be reported she did so only reluctantly and after great pressure from supporters and aides.
Clinton will be interviewed by Univision four days after Palmieri’s email, and she will be asked several questions about her emails. However, she won’t give any apologetic answers. (Univision, 8/12/2016)
Some files from Clinton volunteer Sarah Hamilton are sent to the Smoking Gun website by the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0. Hamilton, who works for Clinton’s publicity office, appears to have fallen for a “spear phishing” attack, making the contents of her email inbox accessible. The Smoking Gun says this revealed many documents, “from schedules and talking points to briefing books and assorted logistics. But the records are absent the kind of intel for which hackers were probably searching, like policy discussions and confidential deliberations.”
Details of a February 2016 email chain are revealed, showing efforts by Clinton’s campaign to keep journalists, especially CNN producer Dan Merica, physically separated from Clinton so she wouldn’t be asked difficult questions. Hamilton, press secretary Nick Merrill, and others treated Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet the same way in mid-March 2016. In sending the documents, Guccifer 2.0 also reiterates his claim to be a lone hacker not working with the Russian government. (The Smoking Gun, 6/28/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/28/2016)