New regulations state that “such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
Home video footage from a private fundraiser shows Senator Clinton talking about how she has deliberately avoided using email so she wouldn’t leave a paper trail. “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I? I don’t even want… Why would I ever want to do email? Can you imagine?”
Within days of his inauguration, president-elect George W. Bush stops using email. He mentions in his last email, “Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace.”
Bush’s close aide Karen Hughes says Bush stopped using e-mail because of public records laws, including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). (CNet, 1/29/2009)
Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. Although she doesn’t use email much at all, her top aides do—and at some point that becomes a security problem. In a February 2009 email, the NSA’s senior liaison to the State Department will explain what happens: “Former Secretary Rice had received waivers for her staff; however, use expanded to an unmanageable number of users from a security perspective, so those waivers were phased out and BlackBerry use was not allowed in her suite.”
When Clinton becomes the next secretary of state, she and her aides will want to use BlackBerrys too, but security officials won’t allow it after the growing problems with Rice’s aides. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)
Bryan Pagliano, who later will manage Clinton’s private email server, is hired to be the IT [Information Technology] director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. According to his later resume, his job is to “Hire and manage a team of systems administrators, engineers, and administrative staff.” From 1999 to 2006, he worked as “Senior Systems Engineer” and “Systems Team Lead” for a company giving computer assistance to non-profits in the Washington, DC, area. (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) Pagliano provides technical support for BlackBerry communications during Clinton’s campaign. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
According to a February 2009 email by Donald Reid, a State Department security official, when Clinton is running for president in 2007 and 2008, she and her top aides become “addicted” to using BlackBerry devices to keep in contact with large numbers of people. Once Clinton “got the hang of it, she was hooked.” Also, she does not like to use desktop computers. (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)
A Congressional oversight committee investigates allegations that the White House fired US attorneys for political reasons. The committee asks Bush officials to turn over relevant emails, only to find that government work had been conducted on private email addresses. Millions of emails are deleted and permanently lost, preventing the committee from continuing their investigation. Bush officials use email accounts associated with a private gwb43.com server owned and controlled by the RNC [Republican National Committee], which is a private political entity not covered by government oversight laws. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2007) (Vox, 3/2/2015)
In 2015, shortly after Clinton’s use of a private email address will be revealed, Vox will comment, “That [Bush administration email] scandal unfolded well into the final year of Bush’s presidency, then overlapped with another email secrecy scandal, over official emails that got improperly logged and then deleted, which itself dragged well into Obama’s first year in office. There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same.”
Vox will also note, “Perhaps even more stunning is that the Obama White House, whose top officials were presumably exchanging frequent emails with Clinton, apparently did not insist she adopt an official email account.” (Vox, 3/2/2015)
While campaigning for president, Clinton says, “Our Constitution is being shredded. We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about secret military tribunals, the secret White House email accounts. […] It’s a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok.” (ABC News, 3/6/2015) (The Hill, 3/5/2015)
This is a reference to a scandal that became public earlier in the month, where it was found that White House adviser Karl Rove and other officials had used private email accounts and then deleted all their emails before investigators could get them. (Vox, 3/2/2015) (YouTube Video, 6/20/2007)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
The federal government’s US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), warns that exposed server ports are security risks. According to a 2015 Associated Press article, “It [says] remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.”
But according to records from late 2012, the private email server used by Clinton while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 will have exposed server ports, and it will use remote-control programs without encryption tunnels. This will leave it more vulnerable to hacker attacks. (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015)
On the same day “Eric Hoteham” (who is probably a Clinton associate named Eric Hothem) registers clintonemail.com for the private server in the Chappaqua house where Bill and Hillary Clinton live, he registers two other domain names: wjcoffice.com and presidentclinton.com. “WJC” most likely stands for Bill Clinton’s full name “William Jefferson Clinton.” The FBI will later determine that this “was primarily a legacy domain that contained mostly forwarded email.” But presidentclinton.com will be used for email accounts of Clinton Foundation employees and other employees of President Clinton.
These other two domains are also based in Clinton’s house, on the same server that will become infamous for containing all of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of state. Apparently, the server won’t become operational until around June 2008.
Bil Clinton doesn’t maintain an email account on the server. His wife Hillary won’t start using an email account on the server until January 2009. (ABC News, 3/5/2015) (The New York Times, 3/4/2015) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
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)
For instance, in June 2009, top Obama strategist David Axelrod corresponds with Clinton at her private email address. On September 5, 2009, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel asks Clinton aide Huma Abedin for Clinton’s email address and is given it.
President Obama also occasionally emails Clinton. However, Obama will later claim that he was unaware Clinton was using a private server, and no evidence has yet emerged that anyone else in the White House knew about the server. (The Associated Press, 6/30/2015)
A few other Clinton associates also get email accounts through Hillary Clinton’s clintonemail.com private server, though the exact total is unknown. Other associates use other private email accounts for government work.
- Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton has an account under the pseudonym “Diane Reynolds,” to help her travel incognito. (Politico, 3/5/2015)
- Deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, whom the New York Times has called a “surrogate daughter” for Hillary, uses a firstname.lastname@example.org address. (Bloomberg News, 3/6/2015)
- Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton does not have an email address, even though the server is in the house he lives in. According to a 2015 account, Bill Clinton has almost never used email. (Bloomberg News, 3/11/2015)—however, another 2015 news article will say that’s almost certainly untrue. (The Atlantic, 3/12/2015)
- Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills does not have an account on the server, but uses email@example.com, a private email account through Google. (Judicial Watch, 9/14/2015)
- Philippe Reines, Clinton’s senior advisor and press secretary, has two email accounts, and uses both for work. He has a government account and a private Gmail account (firstname.lastname@example.org). (Politico, 10/5/2015)
Just prior to Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Justin Cooper registers three email domains for Hillary Clinton at her Chappaqua, New York, address. One domain, clintonemail.com, will be used for all of Clinton’s emails for at least the next five years. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015) (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)
Cooper is a long-time personal assistant to Bill Clinton. However, he has “no security clearance and no particular expertise in safeguarding computers, according to three people briefed on the server setup.” (The Washington Post, 8/4/2015)
Shortly Before January 21, 2009: In an email exchange shortly before Clinton becomes secretary of state, records officials within the Bureau of Administration wonder if there is an electronic method that could be used to capture her emails because they are “not comfortable” advising the new administration to print and file email records. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
The New York Times will later note, “There appears to have been no prohibition on the exclusive use of a private server; it does not appear to be an option anyone had thought about.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015) But the State Department requires that computers be officially certified as secure, and no evidence has emerged that Clinton’s server was given such a certification.
Additionally, the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) states, “Only department-issued or approved systems are authorized to connect to department enterprise networks.” (US Department of State)
One reason Clinton might want to use a private server is that the State Department computer systems at the time are widely considered inadequate and frustrating. One result of using a private server is that only a small fraction of emails used on the department’s systems will be permanently archived. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)
According to a September 2015 letter from Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, “Secretary Clinton did not use a classified email account at the State Department. An account was set up on ClassNet on her calendar, but it was not used.”
ClassNet involves State Department workstations designed to allow employees to view classified information. (The Daily Caller, 2/23/2016)
In 2015, Clinton’s website will address how she read classified information: “The Secretary’s office was located in a secure area. Classified information was viewed in hard copy by Clinton while in the office. While on travel, the State Department had rigorous protocols for her and traveling staff to receive and transmit information of all types.” (Hillaryclinton.com, 7/13/2015)
During this time, Clinton and her aides exchange emails discussing “North Korea, Mexico, Afghanistan, military advisers, CIA operations and a briefing for Obama.” Some of the emails will later be redacted, including one written to Clinton about Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
In late March, top aide Jake Sullivan emails Clinton a draft of a confidential report she is to make to President Obama. “Attached is a draft of your Mexico trip report to [Obama],” the email states. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
During these two months, Clinton travels to Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China. Her emails would have almost no defense against eavesdropping by foreign intelligence and hackers during all those trips.
Furthermore, some intelligence agencies are known to attempt eavesdropping around this time. For instance, at a world leader summit in April 2009, British intelligence sets up fake Internet in the hope that government ministers and their staff will use them so their communications can be intercepted. (ComputerWorld, 3/11/2015)
A September 2016 FBI report will determine that “Clinton’s clintonemail.com email traffic was potentially vulnerable to compromise when she first began using her personal account in January 2009. It was not until late March 2009… that access to the server was afforded an added layer of security.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
There are 62,320 emails sent to or from her email@example.com address, which is an average of 296 a week, or nearly 1,300 a month. Clinton will later claim that roughly half of these (31,830) were private in nature and she will delete them before investigators can look at them.
The Washington Post will later explain, “Most of her emails were routine, including those sent to friends. Some involved the coordination of efforts to bring aid to Haiti by the State Department and her husband’s New York-based Clinton Foundation—notes that mixed government and family business, the emails show. Others involved classified matters. State Department and Intelligence Community officials have determined that 2,093 email chains contained classified information. Most of the classified emails have been labeled as ‘confidential,’ the lowest level of classification. Clinton herself authored 104 emails that contained classified material, a Post analysis later found.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
Twenty-two of her emails will later be determined to be classified “top secret” or even higher than top secret in some cases, due to the mention of highly secretive Secret Access Programs (SAP). (The New York Times, 1/29/2016)
According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, department employees often ask the department’s Information Resources Management (IRM) office for permission to use nondepartmental computer systems for work purposes, such as using outside video conferencing systems or file sharing software.
But these requests are typically denied. For instance, in 2012, a request is submitted to use an Internet-based teleconference service. But the IRM denies this request, citing regulations that normal day-to-day operations need to be conducted on authorized computer systems.
The IRM further notes that the department “expect[s] employees to use the tools provided by the department to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.”
However, Clinton is never warned not to use a personal email account and personal server for her day-to-day communications, despite some top department officials knowing that she does this. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
State Department officials regularly mark some information as “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU), and there are special rules to deal with this.
Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) rules state that anyone regularly transmitting SBU information outside the department’s OpenNet computer network needs to request a solution from the department’s security officials. Clinton never does this, even though she frequently sends and receives emails marked SBU.
Furthermore, rules require special safeguards for transmitting SBU information on a mobile device. Clinton never does that either. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
Clinton emails former Secretary of State Colin Powell two days after she is sworn in as secretary of state, and asks about his use of a BlackBerry while he was secretary of state from January 2001 to January 2005. A full copy of the email will be released on September 7, 2016.
Clinton writes: “I hope to catch up soon [with] you, but I have one pressing question which only you can answer! What were the restrictions on your use of your BlackBerry? Did you use it in your personal office? I’ve been told that the DSS [Diplomatic Security] personnel knew you had one and used it but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it! President Obama has struck a blow for Berry addicts like us. I just have to figure out how to bring along the State Dept. Any and all advice is welcome.”
Powell replies to Clinton, “I didn’t have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”
Powell also warns Clinton, “there is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it is government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may beome an official record and subject to the law.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
Powell further writes, “Reading about the President’s BB [BlackBerry] rules this morning, it sounds like it won’t be as useful as it used to be.” Powell is referring to a New York Times article published the day before, regarding Obama winning the fight to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. (New York Times, 01/22/09)
Powell further advises Clinton, “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Clinton emails back the same day, “[I] want to thank you for all the advice about Berries, security, and life on the seventh floor [of State Department headquarters]! I hope we’ll have a chance to visit in person sometime soon.” (US Senate, 9/7/2016)
In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton [will indicate] to the FBI that she understood Powell’s comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
Clinton’s decision to use a private email account on a private server had already been made before this email exchange.
In a May 2016 court deposition, Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills will be asked what she thought of State Department official Patrick Kennedy’s idea in a January 24, 2009 email that a computer be installed in Clinton’s office so she could use it to check her emails.
Mills will reply, “Secretary Clinton was not a computer user. And so I don’t know that it solved the solution of being able to be in communication electronically with her staff. […] I don’t know why it was not set up. I do know that she was not someone who used a computer. And so to the extent the objective was to place that computer there for her use, it would not have been used.”
Mills says she might have discussed the issue with Clinton, but she doesn’t remember. Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry as well as an iPad to check her emails instead. (Judicial Watch, 5/31/2016)
Clinton sends a cable to all US diplomatic posts about the proper use of email. It includes the following point, referenced from the department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM): “Unclassified material, including Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU), may be transmitted in email on the Internet. However, in accordance with 12 FAM 544.3, individual employees should decide whether unencrypted email provides appropriate protection for the specific information they are transmitting. Classified information must be transmitted on the classified intranet, except as provided in 5 FAM 731 (h).”
It also warns, “Use your government email address for business purposes only.” (WikiLeaks, 2012)
Bill Clinton seeks approval from the State Department for 3 three-year consulting arrangements, and he wants an answer for all 3 within five days. Due to a deal with the White House, he needs to get approval from department ethics officials while his wife Hillary is secretary of state. All three deals are with companies headed by Bill’s longtime friends:
- Shangri-La Industries, led by California investor Steve Bing.
- Wasserman Investments, led by entertainment executive Casey Wasserman.
- Saban Capital Group, led by entertainment executive and multi-billionaire Haim Saban.
For all three deals, Clinton would be paid for general advice but not specific investment advice, since that could come from his knowledge of his wife’s work as secretary of state.
Two of the deals are quickly approved, but the Saban deal meets resistance by department lawyers. Jim Thessin, the department’s top ethics approver, writes in an email to Bill Clinton’s office, “We have an objection to the [Saban Capital Group proposal] based on the fact that Haim Saban, a founder of this entity, is actively involved in foreign affairs issues, particularly with regard to the Middle East, which is a priority area for the Secretary.” As a result, the Saban deal does not get approved. However, Saban had donated generously to the Clinton Foundation and he continues to do so, giving $7 million in 2010 and 2011, and more after that. (Politico, 2/25/2015)
In a May 2010 article, Saban will explain that his main political interest is supporting right-wing political parties in Israel by influencing US politics. He lists three ways he does this: making donations to political parties, establishing think tanks, and controlling media outlets. (The New Yorker, 5/10/2010)
Donald Reid, the State Department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, is working to find a solution that would allow Clinton and her top aides to use BlackBerrys in secure rooms (known as SCIFs).
He explains the problem in a work email after having more meetings about it: “As I had been speculating, the issue here is one of personal comfort. [Clinton] does not use a computer, so our view of someone wedded to their email (why doesn’t she use her desktop when in the SCIF?) doesn’t fit this scenario… during the campaign she was urged to keep in contact with thousands via a BB [BlackBerry]… once she got the hang of it, she was hooked… now every day, she feels hamstrung because she has to lock her BB up… she does go out several times a day to an office they’ve crafted for her outside the SCIF and plays email catch-up. [Clinton’s chief of staff] Cheryl Mills and others who are dedicated BB addicts are frustrated because they too are not near their desktop very often during the working day… at this 2PM meeting Cheryl indicated she last checked her email at 8:30… they are used to having the BB on their hip and staying closely in touch with developments during the day.” (Ars Technica, 3/17/2016)
At 6:39 p.m., Clinton emails her chief of staff Cheryl Mills, saying she just arrived home from a trip to Asia and wants to talk to her over a secure phone line. However, a back and forth email exchange shows that there is a technical problem with Mills’ secure cell phone.
Finally, at 10:01 p.m., Clinton emails Mills, “I give up. Call me on my home [number].”
At almost the exact same time, Mills emails Clinton, “I just spoke to ops [operations] and called you reg [regular] line — we have to wait until we see each other b/c [because the] technology is not working.”
Six minutes later, Clinton replies, “Pls [please] try again.”
The Hill will later note, “It’s unclear whether the two did connect or if they moderated any discussion they may have had to avoid sensitive topics while on an unsecure landline.”
The emails in the chain will not be included in the over 30,000 emails Clinton turns over in December 2014, but will be released in May 2016 due to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits forcing the release of more emails from Clinton’s aides. (US Department of State, 4/29/2016) (The Hill, 5/12/2016) (LawNewz, 5/13/2016)
Clinton writes in an email, “I’m so sorry but I’m just seeing this (no BlackBerry contact permitted in my office) and I’m on the way to the shuttle to NY [New York].” She is responding to Dr. Mark Hyman, who has been working with her on health care reform. (US Department of State, 4/29/2016)
An email entitled “Message from the Secretary on FOIA” goes out in Clinton’s name to the entire State Department. In it, she encourages full cooperation responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. “As a Department, we should respond to requests in a timely manner, resolve doubts in favor of openness, and not withhold information based on speculative or abstract fears. Preserving the record of our deliberations, decisions, and actions will be at the foundation of our efforts to promote openness.” (US Department of State, 6/18/2015)
Ironically, Clinton will not turn over any work-related emails (which are official records) when she leaves the department in February 2013, and FOIA requests for any of her emails will be ignored until the controversy over her use a private server becomes front-page news in March 2015.
The State Department’s telecommunications manager Purcell Lee sends an email that contains the agenda for “Secretary Residential Installation Hotwash.” A “hotwash” is an after-action discussion. An attached file lists the electronic equipment in Clinton’s Chappaqua, New York house. It mentions the recent installation of a phone and fax machine for classified communications. But most crucially, it also mentions the existence of Clinton’s private email server with the comment: “Unclassified Partner System: Server: Basement Telephone Closet.” None of the agenda items refer to the existence of the unauthorized server.
Lee’s email is sent to four other State Department officials: Kevin Wagganer, John Bentel, Andrew Scott, and Bruce Duncan. (US Department of State, 6/20/2016)
Bentel is the director of the department’s bureau of Information Resources Management (IRM). He will later deny having any knowledge of Clinton’s server and some will claim he participated in a cover-up, telling others that she had legal authority to use it when she did not. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)
Clinton writes in an email: “Dear Lauren [Jiloty] and Huma [Abedin], I have just realized I have no idea how my papers are treated at State. Who manages both my personal and official files? […] Are there personal files as well as official ones set up? […] I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want.”
Abedin replies, “We’ve discussed this. I can explain to you when I see [you] today.” (US Department of State, 5/31/2016)
In June 2016, Chris Cillizza will write in the Washington Post: “[T]his email to Abedin—which came at the start of her four-year term in office—suggests a bit more active agency than Clinton has previously let on. ‘I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want,’ doesn’t strike me as Clinton simply wanting convenience and following the instructions of her IT people on how to make that happen. It reads to me as though Clinton is both far more aware of the email setup and far more engaged in how it should look than she generally lets on publicly.” (The Washington Post, 6/28/2016)
In her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will be asked about this email. According to the FBI, “Clinton stated this email pertained to how her ‘files’ were going to be treated at [the] State [Department]. Clinton relayed while in the Senate, she maintained a personal and official paper file. This process was not implemented through Senate procedure or guidance but through Clinton’s own personal process. Clinton was not aware how other State staff maintained their records and was unaware of State’s State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset (SMART).” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
A State Department official (whose name is later redacted) sends an email to Clinton. The unnamed official had been sponsored by Clinton for a security position but had failed the security tests, and so he directly appeals to her for assistance.
Clinton forwards the email to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and asks them, “Could you follow up on this?”
It is unknown what becomes of the official’s request. However, Mills then complains in an email just to Abedin, “Personally, I think this is outrageous that staff go straight to her on this stuff.”
Abedin replies to Mills, “This is unbelievable. And she also should not be giving her email to everyone [because] she will get stuff like this.”
Mills then responds back, “She’s not giving her email to new people. People who emailed her old Senate address are still being forwarded to her new address. Most of her Senate staff had access to that address. Justin [Cooper] can fix it but I need her berry [BlackBerry] and she takes that thing to every toilet, to the shower, so [it’s] hard to get my hands on that thing…” (US Department of State, 6/9/2016)
Clinton’s deputy secretary of state Huma Abedin is attending a conference in the country of Trinidad and Tobago. State Department aide Melissa J. Lan, who is also at the conference, emails her to borrow Clinton’s day book binder, a presumably sensitive document containing Clinton’s daily schedule.
Abedin replies: “Yes. It’s on the bed in my room. U can take it. My door is open. I’m in the lobby.”
(US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
Douglas Band sends an email with the subject heading “A favor” to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. At the time, Band is both working for the Clinton Foundation and serving as a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton. Band writes that it was “important to take care of” – but the name of the person and several following lines of text are later redacted.
Abedin responds, “We have all had him on our radar. Personnel has been sending him options.” The person may somehow be related to Clinton Foundation work being done in Haiti, because Band’s email includes a forward of an email from a person whose name is redacted, but who had just returned from a trip to Haiti involving charity work.
Upon becoming secretary of state earlier in 2009, Clinton promised to avoid any possible conflict of interest between State Department work and Clinton Foundation work. (CBS News, 8/10/2016) (US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
Douglas Band sends an email to Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin. At the time, Band is both working for the Clinton Foundation and serving as a personal aide to former President Bill Clinton. Band asks for the State Department’s “substance person” in Lebanon to contact Gilbert Chagoury. “As you know, he’s key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp [important].”
Abedin responds that the “substance person” Is “Jeff Feltman,” a former US ambassador to Lebanon. “I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to Jeff.”
Fifteen minutes later, Band sends another email to Abedin, writing, “Better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important.” After some redacted text, he adds, “He’s awake I’m sure.”
(US Department of State, 6/30/2016)
CBS News will late call Chagoury “a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire philanthropist who was one of the Clinton Foundation’s top donors.” He gave between $1 and $5 million to the foundation. In addition, he pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. He was convicted in 2000 in Switzerland for money laundering, but agreed to a plea deal and repaid $66 million.
Upon becoming secretary of state earlier in 2009, Clinton promised to avoid any possible conflict of interest between State Department work and Clinton Foundation work. (Judicial Watch, 8/12/2016) (CBS News, 8/10/2016)
In August 2016, a spokesperson for Chagoury will claim that Chagoury had been seeking to contact someone in the State Department to offer his perspective on the coming elections in Lebanon, and had not been seeking official action by the State Department. (Politico, 8/11/2016)
In August 2016, the New York Times will publish an article based on a claim by former Salon reporter Joe Conason about an incident that occurred at a dinner party in June 2009, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Conason will have recently interviewed Hillary Clinton for a book he is writing about Bill Clinton, and he may have heard about the incident through her.
The party is hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and several other former secretary of states are also in attendance: Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, and William Christopher.
Conason will claim that, “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.” (New York Times, 08/18/16)
Clinton will also tell a similar story in her July 2016 FBI interview. NBC News journalist Andrea Mitchell will report, “Clinton told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended on two occasions that she use a private email account for unclassified communication.”
Drawing from Conason’s original report, Mitchell will write, “Powell made the suggestions at a small dinner party shortly after Clinton took over at the State Department in 2009 and in an email exchange around the same time.” Two sources later confirm to NBC News that Clinton gave that account to investigators during her FBI interview. (NBC News, 08/19/2016)
In a January 2009 email, Powell warned her that should that become “public,” her emails would become “official record[s] and subject to the law.” “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Clinton said that Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email address. (Federal Bureau of Investigations (09/02/16)
However, Powell will later claim he doesn’t recall Albright even asking that question, but he does remember an email exchange with Clinton on January 23, 2009. Conason appears to be confusing the email with the dinner party.
Colin Powell’s emails will be hacked and released to the public September 13, 2016. The email leak will include an exchange between Powell and Rice on August 28, 2016. Powell will write, “I was [with] Maddy [Madeline Albright] the other evening and she doesn’t remember an email conversation or even asking us a question recently.”
Rice will write back, ” Yes — I’m sure it never came up.”
Thus, the alleged Albright question at her party, and Powell’s reply, may never have happened at all. Though Clinton will say it did, Albright, Rice, and Powell will say it did not.
Palau is a single island with a population of only 20,000. The lobbyist, Jeffrey Farrow, had worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. But it’s not known how he got her new email address, which she started using after becoming secretary of state in January 2009.
Farrow begins emailing Clinton in June 2009, at a time when the US is deciding how much financial aid to give Palau, and while Palau becomes the first country to accept prisoners from the US military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Farrow talks about how Palau is going to take 17 Guantanamo prisoners and then suggests that US aid to the country is “far too low.” Clinton forwards the emails to her aide Jake Sullivan and asks him to “do some recon outreach and advise what, if anything, we should do.”
In an October 30, 2009 email, Farrow again asks for more US aid to Palau. Clinton forwards that email to Sullivan and other aides with the note, “As I have said repeatedly, I do not want to see Palau shortchanged.” In September 2010, the US announces a large multi-year aid package to Palau worth over $250 million. (Politico, 7/1/2015)
In a September 2010 email, Farrow praises Clinton and Sullivan for helping to get the aid package done, and jokingly promises Clinton a medal and a free vacation in Palau. (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) Farrow also forwards a thank you letter from Palau President Johnson Toribiong in April 2011, belying Clinton’s claim that she only ever had email contact with one foreign official, from Britain. (US Department of State, 10/30/2015) (US Department of State, 10/30/2015)
After Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills emails Clinton that White House official David Axelrod wants her email address so he can send her something, Clinton writes to Mills, “Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma [Abedin] or Lauren [Jiloty] during work hours.” (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)
In early 2009, Clinton turned down an offer to have a personal computer installed in her office so she could check her emails on it. In 2015, she will claim she only used a BlackBerry to check emails for “convenience.”
Clinton confidant and private citizen Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject heading, “My role, Germany, Iran, etc.” He writes: “I spoke with Doug Band yesterday, discussed things with him, and we will go from there. It would be helpful if you and I speak soon to define parameters of what projects I should pursue. We should discuss your speech to the Council, among other things.”
Band is a close personal aide to Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton, and also works at the Clinton Foundation. Blumenthal then writes about other matters relating to Germany and Iran. Clinton speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) two weeks later. (US Department of State, 12/31/2015) (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)
In May 2015, Clinton will downplay the link between herself and Blumenthal when she was secretary of state, saying, “He sent me unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances.” Blumenthal is paid a $120,000 yearly salary by the Clinton Foundation despite not doing any charity work there, but Clinton will deny that is compensation for his emailed intelligence reports. (Real Clear Politics, 5/20/2015)
An email is written by Shelby Smith-Wilson, an official in the State Department’s operations center. Parts of it will later be deemed “top secret,” then downgraded to “secret,” the medium classification level. The New York Times will later report, “Although that portion was entirely redacted, one government official familiar with the contents said it described a conference call among senior officials, including Mrs. Clinton, about the ballistic missile test that North Korea conducted that day in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.” Smith-Wilson’s initial email is addressed to “Dan,” possibly National Security Council official Dan Russel. It is titled “Summary of 1055 EDT DPRK Conference Call.” (“DPRK” stands for Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea.)
It is circulated amongst State Department officials, including Clinton aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan. Abedin then forwards it to Clinton.
In 2015, the email will be included in a random sample of 40 Clinton emails reviewed by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. He and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough will deem parts of it “top secret.” The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will later concur, suggesting it contains intelligence from US spy satellites. But the State Department will disagree, and after months of dispute, in February 2016 the email will be downgraded to “secret,” with parts of it publicly released. Even then, this will be called a “provisional” decision, suggesting the dispute is on-going. (Politico, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)
This is part of an email from her to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills. The context is hard to discern because much of the correspondence around it is redacted. However, it has something to do with a speech she will give about a food security initiative. (Politico, 2/29/2016)
Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends an email to Clinton and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills that is almost entirely later redacted. The subject heading is redacted, and the entire text of the two-page email is redacted except for two words: “Confidential,” and “From.”
However, the spacing of redacted lines indicates the name after the word “From” is redacted due to a code indicating that person secretly works for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), NRO (National Reconnaissance Office), or NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). The rest of the text is redacted due to that same code and a code regarding the violation of personal privacy.
Mills then replies to Blumenthal and Clinton, “Is it true that [redacted] would be nominated for Amb [Ambassador]? First I’ve heard about it is this email.” Clinton, Mills, and Blumenthal then send more brief emails to each other relating to a possible ambassador nomination for this person. (US Department of State, 2/26/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)
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)
Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin forwards an email to Clinton. The original email, written by State Department official Daniel B. Smith, is deemed by Smith “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.” Smith writes a summary of a senior staff meeting that discussed embassy security. It starts, “Eric Boswell, representing Pat, reviewed two embassy security issues -“ Then the rest of a large block of text is later redacted. (US Department of State, 7/31/2015)
John Schindler, a former NSA counterterrorism official, will later write, “Embassy security information is something that is always considered classified, given the all-too-common attacks that befall American embassies and diplomats worldwide.” (John Schindler, 8/26/2015) Boswell, the head of the department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau, will be fired in 2012 for security lapses relating to the 2012 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (The Washington Post, 12/19/2012)
Clinton writes an email to former senator George J. Mitchell (D), who is the US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace at the time. The subject heading is “Phone call report.” The opening word “George-” will later be unredacted while the rest of about seven or eight lines of text written by Clinton will be redacted, due to containing “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.”
The Washington Post will cite the email as a clear example where Clinton wrote and sent sensitive classified information instead of just receiving it, since it’s one of the first of its kind to be publicly released. (The Washington Post, 9/1/2015) (US Department of State, 10/30/2015)
On October 17, 2009, Clinton sends an email to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and Jon Davidson, Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. The subject heading is “Haiti,” and the full text is: “I’ve heard that both the PM [prime minister] and the finance minister will resign next week. I’m copying Jon so he can tell Bill.” (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)
The next day, Mills forwards a message from Kenneth Merten, the State Department’s special coordinator for Haiti, to Clinton and Davidson. The subject heading is “PML,” but most of the several lines of text will later be redacted except for the comment, “I’ll have more (most likely) tomorrow.” The redaction codes will indicate the message contains “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.” (US Department of State, 7/31/2015)
Haiti’s prime minister, Michèle Pierre-Louis, will be voted out of office on November 11, 2009. Davidson is not a government employee at the time and it is unknown if he has a security clearance.
Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills sends Clinton an email that mainly contains a document with the title “Talking Points for US Ambassador to India and the US Ambassador to Pakistan.” Mills also includes the comment, “You are getting separate points coming high side through [Clinton aide] Jake [Sullivan].” The “high side” is the nickname for sending information through a classified system.
However, the talking points sent by Mills will later be entirely redacted. Six different classification codes will be used to justify redacting all the text, including information that could “interfere with [law] enforcement proceedings,” “disclose confidential sources,” and “disclose investigation techniques.” There is no apparent email reply from Clinton. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)
Blumenthal is a friend of Clinton’s and a Clinton Foundation employee, but he is a private citizen with no security clearance. Blumenthal asks Clinton in an email, “How did it go in Berlin? Looked terrific. What does Merkel think of the Blair option? Sid.” (“Merkel” presumably is a reference to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, and the “Blair option” is an Israel-Palestine peace proposal put forward by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.) Two hours later, Clinton replies, “Berlin was terrific. Lots of good exchanges [with] leaders.” Then the next four and a half lines of Clinton’s reply are completely redacted in the version that will be made public in 2015. (US Department of State, 6/30/2015)
A 2009 executive order issued two months later states that US officials who negligently disclose classified information to unauthorized individuals are subject to any and all federal sanctions provided for by law. (White House, 12/29/2009)
Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject heading “Re: Afghanistan strategy” that he marks “Confidential.”
The bulk of the email contains two documents written by others for Clinton. Blumenthal comments, “One is a memo from [redacted] who served in the counter-insurgency program in Vietnam with John Paul Vann.” The name of this person will later be redacted, and the redaction code indicates this person secretly works for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), NRO (National Reconnaissance Office), or NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency).
The rest of the email is not redacted except when this person’s name is mentioned. (US Department of State, 12/31/2015)
Clinton responds the next day with the comment, “Thx [Thanks] so much for sending.” (US Department of State, 12/31/2015)