January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Four of Clinton’s top aides frequently use personal email accounts for work matters and then fail to properly archive them.

After Clinton’s email scandal becomes public in March 2015, The State Department will request all work-related emails from four of Clinton’s top aides: Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines. The emails will be turned over between June and August 2015.

Top left: Cheryl Mills, Top Right: Huma Abedin, Lower left: Jake Sullivan, Lower right: Philippe Reines

Top left: Cheryl Mills, Top Right: Huma Abedin, Lower left: Jake Sullivan, Lower right: Philippe Reines

A department analysis will determine that all four aides frequently used personal email accounts for work matters, although they had government email accounts and sometimes used those as well. The combined work-related personal emails from the four of them will total nearly 72,000 printed pages. One of the four sends and receives 9,585 work emails using a personal account while Clinton is secretary of state, though it isn’t clear which one. That person averages nine work emails from that account per work day.

In May 2016, the department’s inspector general will conclude that, just like Clinton, “these [four aides] failed to comply with department policies… because none of these emails were preserved in department recordkeeping systems prior to [being handed over] in 2015.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

July 24, 2010: Clinton may start accessing the Internet at her Washington home using an unsecure, typical Wi-Fi connection.

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Philippe Reines (Credit: Washington Post)

Clinton and Philippe Reines have an email chain about Clinton’s new iPad. Reines is Clinton’s press secretary and a senior advisor. It is a Saturday and apparently Clinton is at her home in Washington, DC, and trying to get her new iPad to work. She cannot connect to the Internet with it, so she asks Reines, “I don’t know if I have wi-fi. How do I find out?” (Wi-Fi technology allows one to connect to the Internet using a wireless local area network.)

Reines responds, “Let me talk to Justin & Huma to check out the situation, and if there is wi-fi I’m happy to swing by and set it up.” “Justin” is a likely reference to Clinton aide Justin Cooper, who registered Clinton’s private server in her Chappaqua, New York, house, and “Huma” is a likely reference to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) 

It is not known what happens, but it appears Reines is prepared to enable Clinton to regularly use her iPad at her home using a typical Wi-Fi network, without any extra security measures. Clinton begins using her iPad for her emails the next day, while continuing to use her BlackBerry. (US Department of State, 8/31/2015)

June 2, 2011: Chinese hackers are targeting Gmail accounts of senior US officials, but top Clinton aides keep using Gmail account for work.

The Google Gmail logo (Credit: Google)

The Google Gmail logo (Credit: Google)

Google Inc. publicly announces that hackers based in China are targeting the email accounts of senior US officials and hundreds of other prominent people. The attacks are on users of Google’s Gmail email service. If successful, the hackers are able to read the emails of their targets. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/2/2011) 

Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills conducts government work through her Gmail account. Philippe Reines, Clinton’s senior advisor and press secretary, has a government account and a Gmail account, and uses both for work. However, there’s no evidence Mills or Reines stops using Gmail for work after this news report. (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015) (Politico, 10/5/2015) 

Furthermore, two days later, Mills indicates in an email that there was an attempt to hack her email: “As someone who attempted to be hacked (yes I was one)…” (CBS News, 9/30/2015

Later in the month, the State Department will issue a warning to all employees not to use private emails for work, but apparently Mills and Reines still won’t stop using their Gmail accounts for work. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 1, 2013: Clinton’s four year tenure as secretary of state ends.

Clinton exiting an airplane in her last week as secretary of state. (Credit: The New Yorker)

Clinton exiting an airplane in her last week as secretary of state. (Credit: The New Yorker)

(The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) Clinton is succeeded by Senator John Kerry (D). Kerry apparently uses a government email account for all work matters, and all his emails are automatically preserved by the State Department for posterity. (The New York Times, 3/2/2015) 

Most of her top aides leave the State Department around the same time, such as Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines, while Patrick Kennedy remains. (The New York Times, 8/13/2013)

August 7, 2015: The State Department is ordered to release more Clinton documents.

US District Judge Richard J. Leon sets a stringent schedule for the department to provide the Associated Press with the documents they requested in a lawsuit over the next eight months. The order issued by Leon does not include the over 30,000 Clinton emails the State Department has already scheduled to be released in the Leopold case, nor does it include the 20 boxes given to the State Department by Philippe Reines, a former Clinton senior adviser. The documents include thousands of pages of Clinton’s calendars and schedules. (The Associated Press, 8/7/2015)

January 7, 2016: The State Department’s internal watchdog slams the department’s FOIA process.

The State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick issues a report claiming that the department “repeatedly provided inadequate and inaccurate responses to Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests involving top agency officials, including a misleading answer to a request three years ago seeking information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email use.”

Politico states the new report also points to “a series of failures in the procedures the office of the secretary used to respond to public records requests, including a lack of written policies and training, as well as inconsistent oversight by senior personnel.”

According to the report, “These procedural weaknesses, coupled with the lack of oversight by leadership and failure to routinely search emails, appear to contribute to inaccurate and incomplete responses.”

CREW's Logo (Credit: CREW)

CREW’s Logo (Credit: CREW)

One important flawed department response was a letter sent to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in May 2013 after the organization asked for details on email accounts used by Clinton. State’s response to CREW was, “no records responsive to your request were located.” The report says the inspector general’s office “found evidence that [Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills] was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up.” However, according to the report, none of those officials appear to have reviewed the results of the search done in the department’s files, and there was “no evidence” that those staffers who did the search and responded to CREW knew about Clinton’s private email setup.  CREW followed up last year by saying it never received any final response to its FOIA request.

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

The AP Logo (Credit: The Associated Press)

Other flaws pointed out by the inspector general’s report include extreme delays in other cases, such as an Associated Press FOIA request for Clinton’s schedules that was pending without substantive response for five years.

Politico also filed a FOIA request for legal and ethics reviews of former President Bill Clinton’s paid speeches. That request was pending for four years before the department began producing records.

The Gawker Logo (Credit: Gawker Media)

Another failed response involved a Gawker request for emails that former Clinton adviser Philippe Reines exchanged with 34 news organizations. Politico reports “that request initially received a “no records” response from [the] State [Department], even though State has now found 81,000 potentially responsive emails in its official files. At a court hearing last month, a government lawyer would not concede that the no-records response was inadequate.” (Politico, 1/7/2016)

 

February 10, 2016: As many as 30 different people were included in the 22 known “top secret” messages sent to Clinton.

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton (left) and Jake Sullivan (right) (Credit: The Associated Press)

An unnamed US official claims that top Clinton aides including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Philippe Reines, Jake Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy were CCed on at least some of those emails. (The Hill, 2/10/2016) 

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top national security and foreign policy staffer, sent 215 classified emails to Clinton, more than anyone else. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016He is said to be the author of at least one of the emails sent to Clinton that was later deemed “top secret,” and he may be responsible for others.

Politico reports, “Sullivan both initiated email conversations and also forwarded along messages with sensitive information, and he sometimes added additional content on the email chains in question, according to [our] sources.” As a result, Sullivan could face extra scrutiny from FBI investigators.

Another source says about three of Clinton’s top aides sent her highly classified material. (Politico, 2/10/2016)

March 30, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation has reportedly reached a “critical stage.”

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

David Schuster (Credit: public domain)

Reporter David Schuster says, “The FBI, led by Director James Comey, has now finished examining Clinton’s private emails and home server. And the sources add that Comey’s FBI team has been joined by the Justice Department prosecutors. Together, they are now examining the evidence, analyzing relevant laws, and attempting to arrange interviews with key figures in the investigation.

Those interviews, according to attorneys, will include former State Department aide Philippe Reines, former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton herself. Soon after those interviews—in the next few days and weeks—officials expect Director Comey to make his recommendation to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about potential criminal charges.” (Mediate, 3/30/2016)

April 1, 2016: Four of Clinton’s closest aides have hired the same attorney to represent them in the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Beth Wilkinson (Credit: Marissa Rauch / Wall Street Journal)

Beth Wilkinson (Credit: Marissa Rauch / Wall Street Journal)

The attorney is Beth Wilkinson, who Politico says has “deep ties to Washington politics and the Department of Justice,” and is the wife of CNN journalist David Gregory. Wilkinson is representing Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, Heather Samuelson, an assistant of Mills, and Philippe Reines, who was Clinton’s spokesperson.

Politico reports, “The united front suggests they plan to tell investigators the same story—although legal experts say the joint strategy presents its own risks, should the interests of the four aides begin to diverge as the probe moves ahead.” Reports say the FBI is planning to interview Clinton and her top aides soon.

Former US attorney Bill Killian says the united strategy “is fraught with danger” for the Clinton aides. “In my 30 years as a defense attorney, almost ten as a state or federal prosecutor, I have rarely or ever seen a situation where a lawyer can provide a common defense to multiple people without there being a conflict of interest at some point in some regard. It’s rare that the common defense would in fact be the best defense for all the people under investigation.” (Politico, 4/1/2016

It is also notable that other aides are not part of this united front, including top aide Huma Abedin.

May 2016: The State Department won’t say if Clinton’s former top aides have kept their security clearances or not.

 05-2016ChuckGrassley

Senator Charles Grassley (Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

Senator Charles Grassley (R), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to the State Department. He asks if some of Clinton’s former top aides, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines have kept their security clearances “in light of the fact that classified information has been discovered” on Clinton’s private server.

However, the State Department declines to tell him, saying it won’t discuss the status of any individuals’ security clearance. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)

It has previously been reported that Clinton and her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills have kept their security clearances.

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)