September 15, 2008: Vice presidential candidate Palin uses private email to avoid public scrutiny, but gets her email account hacked.

Sarah Palin (Credit: The Today Show)

Sarah Palin (Credit: The Today Show)

An unknown group of hackers breaks into the private email account of Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Some snippets of her Yahoo Mail emails are posted on the Internet. (The Washington Post, 9/16/2008)

Just two days earlier, the New York Times reported: “Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal email accounts for state business; dozens of email messages obtained by the New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records. […] An assistant told [Palin] it appeared that such email messages sent to a private address on a ‘personal device’ like a BlackBerry ‘would be confidential and not subject to subpoena.’” (The New York Times, 9/13/2008)

2009: Government regulations require the preservation of all work-related emails kept on non-governmental computer systems.

In 2004, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a bulletin noting that officials and employees “must know how to ensure that records are incorporated into files or electronic recordkeeping systems, especially records that were generated electronically on personal computers.”

In 2009, NARA amends its regulations explicitly to address official emails on personal accounts: Departments that allow employees to send and receive work-related emails using a system not operated by the department must ensure that all such emails are preserved in the appropriate department recordkeeping system. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

January 28, 2009: The first known email using Clinton’s private server is sent by Clinton, despite her claim she won’t use it for two more months.

General David Petraeus (Credit: Centcom)

General David Petraeus (Credit: Centcom)

Clinton exchanges 19 emails with Army General David Petraeus, who is chief of the US Central Command at the time. The exchange will continue into February 2009.

In 2015, Clinton will claim that she didn’t start using her email account for government work until March 18, 2009. As a result, all the emails she will later hand over to the State Department will be from March 18 or later. These emails have not yet been made public. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

In August 2015, in a sworn deposition to a federal court, Clinton will claim: “I, Hillary Rodham Clinton, declare under penalty of perjury that the following is true and correct: While I do not know what information may be ‘responsive’ for purposes of this law suit, I have directed that all my emails on in my custody that were or potentially were federal records he provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.” (Judicial Watch, 8/10/2015)

The 19 emails between Clinton and Petraeus from January 2009 will be discovered by the Defense Department in September 2015, one month after Clinton’s sworn deposition. Presumably, they come from Petraeus’ email account. (Reuters, 9/26/2016)

March 18, 2009: Clinton claims she starts using her private email address on this day, despite emails proving otherwise.

In 2015, Clinton will name this as the date she begins using a private email server and her email account for government business. Around this time, she also allegedly stops using an email address she used as a senator:, also known as (AT&T and Cingular are the same company).

The Wall Street Journal will later report, “Messages from the account she used as a senator [prior to this date] are lost and could not be retrieved, her office said.”

She is said to keep the AT&T account working through September 2009, but she always replies from her address. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/2015) (Buzzfeed, 7/1/2015) However, emails from as early as January 28, 2009 using her new private email address will later be found. (The New York Times, 9/25/2015)

The FBI’s Clinton investigation will later conclude that the FBI “did not recover any information indicating that Clinton sent an email from her email after March 18, 2009.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 27, 2010: An emails shows that Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin are aware of Clinton’s private server, and a Bill Clinton aide has an email account on it.

Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin sends an email to Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton. She forwards a message from Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills to Clinton that had bounced, and asks Cooper, “HRC [Clinton] email coming back—is server okay?”

He replies, “UR [You are] funny. We are on the same server.” His reply goes to Mills as well as Abedin, indicating that both of them are aware of the existence of Clinton’s private server.

Cooper’s email domain will be redacted when this email is released in 2016, but his comment indicates his email is on the domain, the same as Clinton’s. (Abedin has an email account on that domain too, but she sends this email from her State Department account.) (US Department of State, 6/20/2016) 

Cooper is not a government employee and apparently has no security clearance, but other reports indicate he helps Bryan Pagliano manage Clinton’s server.

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)

June 4, 2011: Cheryl Mills suggests Clinton shouldn’t “telegraph” she and her staffers use private email for work matters, and also reveals someone tried to hack her account.

Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, is responding to a suggestion from another State Department official that someone in the department should make a public complaint about the poor state of the department’s email system. Mills writes, “As someone who attempted to be hacked (yes I was one), I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don’t do off state mail [because] it may encourage others who are out there.” (Bloomberg News, 10/1/2015) (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

Just two days earlier, Google gave a public warning that Chinese hackers were targeting US government officials using Google’s Gmail email service, and Mills uses a Gmail account for some work matters, in addition to her department email account. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/2/2011) (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015)

2012: The Defense Department prohibits its employees from using personal email accounts for official work.

The State Department continues to allow it, though with certain requirement and restrictions. (The New York Times, 3/25/2016)

August 2012: A US ambassador is forced to resign after using a private email account for government work.

US Ambassador Scott Gration (Credit: Capital News)

US Ambassador Scott Gration (Credit: Capital News)

The State Department criticizes US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration in part because he used a private email account to handle “sensitive but unclassified” material. Gration is forced to resign. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

A 2012 State Department inspector general’s report faults him for flouting government rules, including the requirement that he use a State Department email account. “He has willfully disregarded Department regulations on the use of commercial email for official government business.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

December 13, 2012: Clinton is directly asked by a Congressperson if she uses a private email account for work, and fails to reply.

Darrell Issa (Credit: The Associated Press)

Darrell Issa (Credit: The Associated Press)

Representative Darrell Issa (R) asks Clinton in a letter, “Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business? If so, please identify the account used.” His letter also asks if State Department employees have to turn over work-related emails from personal accounts by the time they leave office, and it seeks written documentation of the department’s policies for the use of personal email for government business.

Issa is the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he is investigating how the Obama administration handles its officials’ use of personal email.

However, Clinton never sends a reply, and leaves office seven weeks later.

Issa finally gets a response from the State Department on March 27, 2013, but it fails to mention Clinton’s use of a private email address for work matters and just describes the department’s general email policies.

In 2015, a department spokesperson will decline to explain why Issa was never told about Clinton’s personal email usage. (The New York Times, 4/14/2015)

March 15, 2013—March 20, 2013: Various international media outlets reveal that Guccifer broke into Blumenthal’s email account and discovered Clinton’s private email address.

On March 15, 2013, one day after Guccifer accesses Blumenthal’s account, the US-based website the Smoking Gun publishes an article about this and reveals that Guccifer has sent screenshots of emails between Blumenthal and Clinton. (The Smoking Gun, 3/15/2013) 

The next day, Guccifer sends emails to dozens of news organizations around the world, but especially in the US and Russia, and the screenshots are included. He sends the emails from another account he’s broken into in order to hide his true identity.

The Smoking Gun publishes a story on this on March 18. (The Smoking Gun, 3/18/2013) 

The leak attracts little attention at the time, though some media outlets like Salon, Gawker, and The Russian Times cover it on March 19 and 20. (Gawker, 3/19/2013) (Salon, 3/19/2013) (The Russian Times, 3/20/2013) An article in Gawker asks, “Why was Clinton apparently receiving emails at a non-governmental email account?” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) 

Despite this, Clinton does not shut down her server at all, and on March 20, her private email account hosted on the server will still be active. (Gawker, 3/3/2015)

Shortly After March 15, 2013: After her email address is exposed, Clinton changes to a new email address run from the same server.

Marcel-Lehel Lazar, a.k.a. "Guccifer" (Credit: Cristian Movila / The New York Times)

Marcel-Lehel Lazar, a.k.a. “Guccifer” (Credit: Cristian Movila / The New York Times)

Marcel-Lehel Lazar, the hacker nicknamed “Guccifer,” exposes Clinton’s private email address to the public on March 15, 2013. Clinton then changes her email address to, 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. (, 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)

March 20, 2013: A Gawker reporter sends an email to Clinton’s private address and it does not bounce, confirming the account is still active.

The Gawker email to Clinton on March 20, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

The Gawker email to Clinton on March 20, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

This comes five days after the hacker known as Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal and shortly thereafter publicly revealed Clinton’s exact private email address. The email asks Clinton, “Was the White House aware of your consultations with Blumenthal? And were your emails to and from the account archived according to the provisions of the President Records Act and Freedom of Information Act?” But Clinton never replies, and it doesn’t seem that other reporters ask Clinton these questions in 2013. (Gawker, 3/3/2015)

March 27, 2013: The State Department confirms its policy prohibits the use of personal email accounts for work matters.

State Department official Thomas Gibbons describes the department’s policy on the use of personal email accounts, in response to an investigative letter by Representative Darrell Issa (R). Gibbons says that “employees may use personal email on personal time for matters not directly related to official business, and any employee using personal email should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.” Gibbons failed to mention Clinton used a personal email account for work (or had a personal email account at all), even though Issa directly asked that question. (The New York Times, 4/14/2015)

September 9, 2013: NARA updates regulations on the handling of emails and federal records.

Gary Gensler (Credit: public domain)

Gary Gensler (Credit: public domain)

NARA’s (The National Archives and Records Administration) new regulations state, “While agency employees should not generally use personal email accounts to conduct official agency business, there may be times when agencies authorize the use of personal email accounts, such as in emergency situations when Federal accounts are not accessible or when an employee is initially contacted through a personal account.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) The change comes after it was revealed that Gary Gensler, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and officials at the Department of Energy had used private email addresses for government business.
(Bloomberg News, 3/3/2015)

April 23, 2014: Clinton says that China and Russia “were going after the personal emails of people who worked in the State Department.”

Clinton checks her BlackBerry after attending a Russia-US meeting on the sidelines of an annual Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 23, 2010. (Credit: Na Son Nguyen / Agence France Presse)

Clinton checks her BlackBerry after attending a Russia-US meeting on the sidelines of an annual Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 23, 2010. (Credit: Na Son Nguyen / Agence France Presse)

Clinton criticizes the recent news that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden fled to first China and then to Russia. “When I would go to China or I would go to Russia, we would leave all my electronic equipment on the plane with the batteries out, because this is a new frontier and they’re trying to find out not just about what we do in our government, they’re trying to find out about what a lot of companies do and they were going after the personal emails of people who worked in the State Department.” She adds that China and Russia are “two countries with which we have very difficult cyber-relationships, to put it mildly.” (Mother Jones, 4/25/2014)

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—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)

October 28, 2014: Three more former secretaries of state are asked for their emails.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Credit: NBC News)

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Credit: NBC News)

On the same day the State Department formally asks Clinton for her emails from when she was secretary of state, it also sends letters to her three predecessors as secretary of state—Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice—asking if they have any emails or other federal records in their possession.

Albright replies that she did not use email during the years they were in office.

Rice did have a government email account, but only used it rarely.

Powell, who was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, had a private email account through AOL [America Online] but did not keep his emails.

The State Department’s inspector general will later find that Powell’s personal email account had received two emails from staff that contained “national security information classified at the Secret or Confidential levels.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Wall Street Journal, 3/10/2015)

November 12, 2014: The State Department does not reveal Clinton’s private email address when responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

One email, dated September 29, 2012, is sent from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to Clinton’s address. The State Department redacts all of it, including Clinton’s address. Judicial Watch had filed a FOIA request in July 2014 for records relating to government talking points regarding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

In April 2016, the department will admit that it found the email in 2014, but “upon further review” it had finally revealed the email addresses in it, including Clinton’s. Clinton’s private email address had been exposed by the Guccifer hack in March 2013, but it wasn’t known Clinton had used that address for government work. The release of the address in the context of this talking points email could have made that a public controversy before Clinton deleted about 31,000 emails in late 2014 or early 2015.

Tom Fitton, head of Judicial Watch, will comment in April 2016, “Now we know the Obama administration consciously refused to give up key information about Hillary Clinton’s email in 2014. It covered up this email both from the court and Judicial Watch. Judge Lamberth was right when he suggested that Obama’s State Department acted in bad faith. This cover-up provided Hillary Clinton enough time to hide potentially thousands of government records.” (LawNewz, 4/26/2016) (US Department of State, 4/18/2016)

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)

February 24, 2015: Clinton is asked in an interview about the electronic devices she uses.

Clinton holds up a cell phone during a press conference in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2010. The phone could be a prop to show Americans how to text donations for disaster relief. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Clinton holds up a cell phone during a press conference in Washington, DC, on August 4, 2010. The phone could be a prop to show Americans how to text donations for disaster relief. (Credit: Saul Loeb / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

She replies, “I’m like two steps short of a hoarder. So I have an iPad, a mini iPad, an iPhone, and a BlackBerry.” However, less than a month later, when asked to explain why she only had her one private email account, she will say, “I wanted to use just one device for both personal and work emails instead of two.” (The Associated Press, 3/11/2015

She has claimed that she began using the iPad in 2010, one year into her four years as secretary of state. It is not clear when she began using the other two devices. (The Washington Post, 3/31/2015) (, 7/13/2015)

February 27, 2015: State Department staffers tell House Benghazi Committee aides that Clinton never had a government email address while she was secretary of state.

Instead, she used her private email account exclusively, and the State Department doesn’t have any of her emails other than those she provided voluntarily. This story will publicly break in the New York Times on March 2, 2015. (Reuters, 3/15/2015) (The New York Times, 3/2/2015) (National Archives and Records Administration, 3/31/2015)

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)

Around March 2, 2015: Secretary of State John Kerry allegedly first learns that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account and a private server.

A May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will claim that Kerry was “not involved in any of the discussions regarding Secretary Clinton’s emails and that he first became aware of her exclusive use of a personal email account when an aide informed him around the time the information became published,” on March 2, 2015. This is according to an interview Kerry had with the inspector general’s staff. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

However, in March 2016, the Washington Post will report that in the summer of 2014, “Kerry resolved to round up the Clinton emails and deliver them to Congress as quickly as possible,” suggesting that he was involved and did have earlier knowledge. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Shortly After March 2, 2015: The State Department asks for all the work-related emails from four of Clinton’s top aides.

The four are Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines. All four of them frequently used personal email accounts for work matters while Clinton was secretary of state, though they also had government email accounts. According to a 2016 department inspector general’s report, the four of them hand over “email from their personal accounts during the summer of 2015.” (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: A Clinton aide makes misleading comparisons to previous secretaries of state.

An unnamed Clinton aide says about Clinton’s use of a private email account and server, “Nothing nefarious was at play. She had a BlackBerry, she used it prior to State, and like her predecessors she continued to use it when she got to State.” (Politico, 3/3/2015) 

However, a week later, the Wall Street Journal will report that Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s predecessor as secretary of state, had a government email account and no private email account for work-related matters. Rice only used the account occasionally, but she did use it. (Wall Street Journal, 3/10/2015) Furthermore, Rice did not use a BlackBerry or similar device. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016) 

Earlier secretaries of state did not use BlackBerrys and did not use private email accounts for government work. (ABC News, 3/4/2016)

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: The White House says government employees should at least preserve all their emails.

Josh Earnest (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Josh Earnest (Credit: Bloomberg News)

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest speaks on the recent revelation that Clinton used a private email account. “What I can tell you is that very specific guidance has been given to agencies all across the government, which is specifically that employees of the Obama administration should use their official email accounts when they’re conducting official government business. However, when there are situations where personal email accounts are used, it is important for those records to be preserved consistent with the Federal Records Act.” (The New York Times, 3/3/2015)

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)

March 3, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee requests Clinton should preserve and then hand over all her emails, not just those related to Benghazi.

The committee already had requested that the State Department turn over all of Clinton’s emails relating to Benghazi or Libya. But on March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported a front-page story that revealed Clinton’s lawyers had deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails without input from anyone else, deeming them “personal” in nature.

The committee gives a letter to Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, requesting the preservation and production of all documents and media related to, the email Clinton used while she was secretary of state. In addition, they ask the same for her account. This account was only used by Clinton starting one month after she left the State Department, but at the time that isn’t clear. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

One day later, the committee will issue two subpoenas to Clinton, but they have a more limited scope.

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, the FBI will summarize her as saying, “Concerning the Congressional preservation request on March 3, 2015 for email and other records, Clinton trusted her legal team would comply with the request.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 4, 2015: The New York Times calls Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account a “disturbing departure” from normal practice.

The New York Times’ Editorial Board comments, “Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision when she was secretary of state to use only her personal email account to conduct official business was a disturbing departure from the normal practice of relying primarily on departmental emails for official business.” The editorial concludes, “Some way needs to be found to ensure that the emails she retained [and then deleted] are truly private and don’t involve government business.” (The New York Times, 3/4/2015)

March 4, 2015: The House Benghazi Committee privately issues two subpoenas to Clinton for her emails.

One is for all emails from Clinton’s personal account relating to Libya or the Benghazi terrorist attack. The committee had already received about 300 such emails from the State Department in February 2015. But on March 2, 2015, a New York Times article revealed that Clinton exclusively used a private email account hosted on her own private server, so the State Department may not have some of her emails.

Thus, the committee issues a subpoena directly to Clinton and her lawyers to see if more of her emails can be uncovered. The subpoena orders Clinton to produce emails from, and any other email addresses she may have used while secretary of state, relating to the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The other subpoena to Clinton is for documents it requested in November 2014 but still has not received from the State Department, relating to communications between Clinton and ten senior department officials. (House Benghazi Committee, 3/4/2015) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

One day earlier, the committee asked Clinton for all of her emails. But this was only a request, not a subpoena.

Also on March 4, 2015, Clinton does not disclose the subpoenas, but tweets, “I want the public to see my email. I asked [the] State [Department] to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) All of Clinton’s work emails will only be released after a judge orders the State Department to do so. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 4, 2015: Clinton’s use of a private server left her emails vulnerable to foreign intelligence agencies.

Chris Soghoian (Credit: Stroom Den Haag)

Chris Soghoian (Credit: Stroom Den Haag)

Chris Soghoian, the lead technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), comments on the security of Clinton’s private email server: “Although the American people didn’t know about this, it’s almost certain that foreign intelligence agencies did, just as the NSA knows which Indian and Spanish officials use Gmail and Yahoo accounts. […] She’s not the first official to use private email and not the last. But there are serious security issues associated with these kinds of services… When you build your house outside the security fence, you’re on your own, and that’s what seems to have happened here.”

Soghoian notes the most serious problem is that it would require a whole team of computer experts to keep Clinton’s server protected, and there’s no evidence a team like that ever existed. Even if Clinton had used a popular email service such as those by Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft, she would have benefitted from their security teams. But while the Secret Service would have protected against break-ins into Clinton’s house, they wouldn’t have been able to help with computer security. (Wired, 3/4/2015)

March 5, 2015: The White House legal counsel’s office didn’t know Clinton only used a personal email account.

Additionally, the office only found out as part of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation, which began in mid-2014. This is according to an unnamed person “familiar with the matter.”

According to the Associated Press, “The person said Clinton’s exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation’s top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to [departments] that official business should be conducted on official email accounts.” Once it became clear she wasn’t following proper practices, the counsel’s office asked the State Department to ensure her work-related emails were properly archived. But this person does not specify when that happened exactly. (The Associated Press, 3/5/2015)

March 5, 2015: The RNC asks State Department Inspector General Steve Linick to investigate Clinton’s use of personal email to conduct government business.

RNC [Republican National Committee] Chief Counsel John Phillippe writes in a letter, “I urge you to launch immediately an investigation into Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email address and the Department of State’s policies regarding such use.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 3/5/2015

Linick will initiate an investigation along those lines by the next month, if not sooner.

March 5, 2015: US officials from Clinton’s time as secretary of state had both private and government email accounts on one device without any difficulty.


Congressman Ray LaHood (Credit: public domain)

An aide to former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that LaHood had a BlackBerry with both personal and government email accounts on it. This is news because LaHood held that job through President Obama’s first term, the same time Clinton was secretary of state, and Clinton recently claimed she only had one email address because she only wanted to carry one BlackBerry.

BuzzFeed will add that LaHood’s experience “was similar to that of other senior administration officials, officials and staff said. And it was also the way most people who worked in the administration from the early days of President Obama’s term understood things to work when it came to email…” (BuzzFeed, 3/5/2015) 

Several days later, Emily Miller, a State Department official under Clinton, similarly comments, “When I worked at State, we had both unclassified State email and personal email on the same BlackBerry.” (Twitter, 3/10/2015)

March 6, 2015: A number of email accounts appear to have been made for Clinton to use on her private server.

However, it is unknown if they were ever used. A prominent hacker who has worked for US intelligence agencies used high-tech tools to search Internet data sources for any mention of email addresses using the domain name of Clinton’s server. The results of the search were given to Fox News. Clinton has publicly claimed that she only used one email address while secretary of state:

But the hacker also found the following addresses had been created:,,,,,,,, and

Fox News tried to contact two of Clinton’s spokespeople to find if the other addresses had ever been used by anyone, but got no reply. (Fox News, 3/6/2015)

March 8, 2015: A former US ambassador sees a double standard in how Clinton is treated over her emails.

Scott Gration, was fired in 2012 from being the US ambassador to Kenya in part because he was caught using a private email account for government work. In the wake of the revelation that Clinton also used a private email account for work, Gration says that “it does appear like there was a different standard that was used in my case and that has been used in hers.”

Additionally, the one who actually fired Gration was Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. This irritates Gration as well, saying that “I would assume that [Mills] knew” of Clinton’s private email as well. (CNN, 3/8/2013) 

It will later emerge that Mills also used a private email address for government work sometimes (, including sending emails from that address to Clinton’s private email address. (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015)

March 10, 2015: Clinton claims she has deleted about 30,000 of her emails from her time as secretary of state, but they actually still exist on her private server.

In a press conference at the United Nations, Clinton says, “At the end, I chose not to keep my private, personal emails. Emails about planning [my daughter] Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements. Condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations – the other things you typically find in in-boxes. No one wants their personal emails made public. And I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.” (NPR, 3/11/2015)

It is reported for the first time through Clinton’s comments that about 30,000 emails were deleted by her aides, which is about half of all of her emails from her tenure as secretary of state. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2015) (It will later be reported that the precise number of deleted emails was 31,830.)

The New York Times will report in August 2015, “[Clinton’s privacy] explanation might win public sympathy. But it did not take long for evidence to surface that the culling may have included some work-related emails as well.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) Eventually, the FBI will recover about 15,0000 of the deleted emails and it will be discovered that 5,600 of them were work-related.

However, it also will later be revealed that at the time of this press conference, the emails still existed on Clinton’s private server. They won’t be deleted until late March 2015.

March 10, 2015: Clinton makes her first public comments on her email scandal.

Clinton speaking at a March 10, 2015, press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. (Credit: EPA)

Clinton speaking at a March 10, 2015, press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. (Credit: EPA)

At a press conference in the United Nations headquarters, she insists that “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email; there is no classified material. […] I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” However, starting in 2010, one year into her four years as secretary of state, she began using an iPad as well.

She also reveals that sometime in 2014 she deleted 31,830 emails that were “personal” and “private.” She says she will not turn over her personal email server. (, 7/13/2015) (The Federalist, 3/11/2015) (USA Today, 3/10/2015) She adds that it “probably would have been smarter” to have a government email account as well as a private one. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

March 10, 2015: Clinton claims that her decision to use a private email account “for convenience” didn’t interfere with the State Department’s ability to retrieve those emails later.

The cover of the New York Post on March 11, 2015, the day after Clinton gave a press conference about her email scandal. (Credit: The New York Post)

The cover of the New York Post on March 11, 2015, the day after Clinton gave a press conference about her email scandal. (Credit: The New York Post)

She says, “The vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”

But the next day, a State Department inspector general’s report is released which refutes this, showing statistics that far less than one percent of emails were permanently archived. (Politico, 3/11/2015) 

Despite the evidence to the contrary, Clinton will continue to make similar assertions. For instance, on September 20, 2015, she will claim that “more than 90 percent [of my emails] were already in the system.” (The Washington Post, 11/9/2015)

March 10, 2015: Clinton falsely claims she was allowed to use her private email account for work.

In Clinton’s United Nations press conference, she states, “The laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed.” (CBS News, 3/10/2015)


Jennifer L. Costello, assistant inspector general (left), inspectors general from the State Department, Steve Linick (center), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Charles McCullough (right), are swearing in to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 7, 2016. (Credit: CSpan)

However, a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude that while it was permissible for a department employee to have a private email account and use it occasionally, it was not allowed to use one exclusively for work matters. Plus, she was required to get approval from other department officials to use a mobile device, to use a private server, and more, and she never did. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

In July 2016, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, author of the May 2016 report, will be specifically asked under oath in a Congressional hearing about Clinton’s above comment. He will reply, “I can tell you our report said that she didn’t have approval from senior officials at the department. And we don’t believe it was permitted, both under the rules, and none of the senior officials who were there at the time gave her approval or were even aware that she had a server, according to them. So, let me see if I can digest that long answer into a very short, concise statement. It is not an accurate statement.” (C-SPAN, 7//7/2016)


March 16, 2015: A former government expert writes an editorial titled “Hillary’s Email Defense Is Laughable.”

Dan Metcalfe (Credit: C-SPAN)

Dan Metcalfe (Credit: C-SPAN)

Dan Metcalfe worked in the Justice Department for 30 years, until 2007. He was the founding director of the department’s Office of Information and Privacy, which meant he was in charge of the federal government’s public information disclosure.

In a Politico editorial, he argues that the Federal Records Act, which applies to Clinton, “requires the comprehensive documentation of the conduct of official business, and it has long done so by regulating the creation, maintenance, preservation and, ultimately, the disposition of agency records,” including emails. He says the act allows the use of personal emails for work in some situations, but only if such emails are forwarded into the State Department’s official records system for preservation, which Clinton didn’t do.

He also comments that in this “truly unprecedented” case, “she managed successfully to insulate her official emails, categorically, from the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), both during her tenure at State and long after her departure from it – perhaps forever.” He calls it “a blatant circumvention of the FOIA by someone who unquestionably knows better.” (Politico, 3/16/2015)

March 17, 2015: A State Department manager says he didn’t realize Clinton was using a private email account.

Jack Lew (Credit: public domain)

Jack Lew (Credit: public domain)

Jack Lew was deputy secretary of state for management and resources from January 2009 to November 2010. He will be promoted to secretary of the treasury in 2013. Asked about if he noticed Clinton’s email address ended in, showing that it was not a government account, he says, “I did email with her from time to time, and I don’t remember exactly how it showed up. […] I was aware that she was emailing with people. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what email she was using.”

Lew had a key management and oversight role, but he doesn’t recall discussing with Clinton whether laws or rules prohibit the use of personal email for work matters. (Bloomberg News, 3/17/2015)

March 31, 2015: A Republican senator says Clinton probably violated the law by using only a private email account.

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: NNOAC)

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: NNOAC)

Charles Grassley (R), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, comments on Clinton’s use of only a private email account while secretary of state. “[It] could be a violation of law, probably is a violation of law. Some people are suggesting she could even be prosecuted, and it’s as simple as this – she was using a private email address instead of a government one, and it probably violates the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], it probably violates national security legislation.” (National Public Radio, 4/2/2015)

Late March 2015: Republicans want department watchdogs to see if Clinton’s emails contained classified information.

Senator Richard Burr (left) and Senator Bob Corker (right) (Credit: The Washington Post (left) and Getty Images (right))

Senator Richard Burr (left) and Senator Bob Corker (right) (Credit: The Washington Post (left) and Getty Images (right))

Shortly after Clinton claims in early March 2015 that her emails contained no classified information, senators Richard Burr and Bob Corker, the Republican chairmen of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, ask the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community to investigate if Clinton or other top State Department officials had classified information on their private email accounts.

State Department Inspector General Charles McCullough will only be given a random sample of 40 Clinton emails to investigate. He will conclude that four of them contained information that should have been marked classified. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015

One of those four emails will later be declassified and released publicly by the State Department. It will turn out that email was mistakenly thought to be based on a secret report, but the report actually was made slightly after the email was sent.

Another will be deemed “confidential” and partially released.

Another, written on July 3, 2009 about North Korea, will be deemed “top secret” at first and then downgraded to “secret” and partially released.

Finally, one will be permanently deemed “top secret,” and will be considered one of 22 of Clinton’s top secret emails. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The New York Times, 2/29/2016) (Politico, 11/6/2015)