January 21, 2009—March 29, 2009: State Department employees are prohibited from using nondepartmental computers for work matters, but Clinton’s usage is ignored.

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)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton’s mobile devices and private server are never approved by her department’s security officials.

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, the department’s Diplomatic Security (DS) and Information Resources Management (IRM) security officials claim that Clinton never demonstrates to them that her private server or BlackBerry or iPad meets the minimum security requirements specified by the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

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)

May 2009—February 2013: Pagliano is paid by the Clintons to manage their private server, but details are murky.

According to a later account by Clinton’s legal counsel, Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano performs “technology services for the Clinton family for which he [is] compensated” by check or wire transfer in varying amounts at various times between 2009 and 2013. Most importantly, he manages her private email server as an outside job, including doing so during his hours for the State Department. However, exactly how much he gets paid is unknown. Other details such as who he directly reports to, who directly pays him, and how many hours a week he works on the task also remain unknown. It appears that Justin Cooper, an assistant to Bill Clinton who does not work in government, sometimes helps manage the server as well. But Cooper’s role is even more unclear. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

Late 2010: A State Department official falsely claims Clinton’s computer system has legal approval and warns staffers never to speak of the issue again.

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

John Bentel (Credit: public domain)

Two members of Clinton’s senior executive staff will later claim they discussed their concerns about Clinton’s use of a personal email address, each in a separate meeting with John Bentel, the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat for Information Resource Management.

In one of those meetings, Bentel says that Clinton’s personal communication system has been reviewed and approved by the department’s legal staff and that the matter is not to be discussed any further. However, a later State Department inspector general investigation will find no evidence that any department lawyers ever make such a review.

The other staff member who raised concerns about the server is told by Bentel that the mission of his office is to support Clinton and, in the words of a May 2016 inspector general report, “instruct[s] the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”

Bentel will later claim he has no memory of any of these issues and will refused to be interviewed by any investigators. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (Yahoo News, 5/25/2016)

January 9, 2011–January 10, 2011: Clinton’s private server is shut down after an apparent hacking attack.

Kim Jong Il (front right) posing with Bill Clinton (front left) and his delegation, Justin Cooper (back left), John Podesta (back center), Doug Band (back right), in Pyongyang on August 4, 2009, to secure the release of detained American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. (Credit: Lee Jin-man / The Associated Press)

Kim Jong Il (front right) posing with Bill Clinton (front left) and his delegation, Justin Cooper (back left), John Podesta (back center), Doug Band (back right), in Pyongyang on August 4, 2009, to secure the release of detained American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. (Credit: Lee Jin-man / The Associated Press)

Justin Cooper is a former advisor to President Clinton who provides technical support to Clinton’s private email server. On January 9, 2011, he emails Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, that “he had to shut down the server” because he believes “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in I didn’t want to let them have the chance to.”

Later in the day, Cooper emails Abedin to warn her, “We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min [minutes].”

On January 10, Abedin emails Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and another Clinton aide and tells them not to email “anything sensitive” to Clinton, and says she can “explain more in person.”

Department policy requires employees to report suspicious cybersecurity incidents to security officials. However, a 2016 State Department inspector general’s investigative report will find no evidence that Clinton or her staff reported this incident to anyone else within the department. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 13–14, 2011: Clinton appears to be the target of two hacking attacks, but fails to notify security about them.

William Joseph Burns (Credit: Carenegie Endowment for International Peace)

William Burns (Credit: Carenegie Endowment for International Peace)

Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin sends an email to another close Clinton staffer discuss Clinton’s concern that someone has been “hacking into her email” after she received an email with a suspicious link to a website with pornographic material.

The FBI will later report, “There is no additional information as to why Clinton was concerned about someone hacking into her email account or if the specific link referenced by Abedin was used as a vector to infect Clinton’s device…”

Several hours later, Clinton receives an email from the personal account of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns that also has a link to a suspect website.

The next day, Clinton emails Burns: “Is this really from you? I was worried about opening it!” Department policy requires employees to report suspicious cybersecurity incidents to security officials. However, a 2016 State Department inspector general’s investigative report will find no evidence that Clinton or her staff reports this incident to anyone else within the department. It is unknown if either hacking attack is successful, since the incidents were not investigated at the time. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

The FBI will later be unable to determine if Clinton ever opened the attachment. But “Open source information indicated, if opened, the targeted user’s device may have been infected, and information would have been sent to at least three computers overseas, including one in Russia.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

In March 2011, a State Department security official warned Clinton and others that there was a dramatic increase in attempts “to compromise the private home email accounts of senior Department officials. […] Specifically, the actors are sending cleverly forged emails to victims’ private web-based accounts… These ‘spear phishing’ messages appear to be sent by US government officials but are designed to trick recipients into activating embedded malicious code by clicking on an attachment or link. […] We urge Department users to minimize the use of personal web email for business…” (US Department of State, 11/5/2015) Despite such warnings and incidents, Clinton continues to exclusively use a private email address for all her work and personal emails.

Around February 1, 2013: Clinton later claims she wasn’t given any instructions on how to preserve her emails when she left office.

In a July 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton [will state] that she received no instructions or direction regarding the preservation or production of records from [the] State [Department] during the transition out of her role as secretary of state in early 2013. Furthermore, Clinton believed her work-related emails were captured by her practice of sending emails to State employees’ official State email accounts.”

A May 2016 State Department inspector general report will conclude this wasn’t a proper method, and Clinton should have printed and filed her emails when she left office. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Around February 1, 2013: Clinton fails to turn over her work emails as she leaves office, despite a legal requirement to do so.

When Clinton ends her tenure as secretary of state, she is required by law to turn over all of her work-related documents to the State Department, including emails, but she fails to do so.

Clinton says farewell as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. (Credit: Polaris)

Clinton says farewell as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. (Credit: Polaris)

A May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude, “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any federal records she created and received on her personal account… At a minimum, [she] should have surrendered all emails dealing with department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”

The report will note that at least she turned over 30,000 emails in December 2014, 21 months later. However, the report will also conclude that the emails she gave then are “incomplete,” because many of her work-related emails have since been discovered through other means, such as being found in other email inboxes. For instance, although her tenure began on January 21, 2009, and she started using her email account by January 28, no emails received prior to March 17, 2009, were turned over, nor were any emails sent prior to April 12, 2009. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

Early June 2013: State Department officials discover Clinton’s personal email address and then fail in their legal obligation to share her emails with others.

Heather Higginbottom (Credit: public domain)

Heather Higginbottom (Credit: public domain)

State Department staff reviewing material to possibly give to Congressional committees examining the September 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack discover emails sent by former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to a personal email address belonging to Clinton.

In ensuing weeks, senior department officials discuss if the Federal Records Act (FRA) requires the department to turn over emails from such personal accounts. In fact, the act does require emails to be turned over if they are work-related. However, an internal investigation will later determine that the department does not notify the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of a potential loss of records at any point in time. Furthermore, none of Clinton’s emails are given to any Congressional committee in 2013, nor are they provided in response to any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that year.

According to department official Heather Higginbottom, Secretary of State John Kerry is not a part of these discussions or decisions. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

Around this debate period, on August 7, 2013, department officials find 17 FOIA requests relating to Clinton in their records, with some of them specifically requesting Clinton emails. But none of the requesters are told about any of Clinton’s emails  apparently due to the result of this debate.

Clinton’s personal email address will be rediscovered in May 2014 after a document request from the new House Benghazi Committee.

August 2014: A top watchdog non-profit is taken over by a Clinton ally; its effort to force the release of Clinton’s emails is shut down.

David Brock (Credit: Danny Johnston / The Associated Press)

David Brock (Credit: Danny Johnston / The Associated Press)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has been one of the top political watchdog organizations, targeting unethical and corrupt behavior in both major political parties. In August 2014, wanting to bring on a new board chair with a strong fundraising base, CREW hires David Brock. Brock does have ties to many Democratic donors, but he’s particularly tied to Hillary Clinton. He will found and run her main Super PAC [political action committee] for her 2016 presidential campaign, as well as leading other pro-Clinton groups.

Brock becomes chair of CREW, and moves the organization to a building housing the other groups led by Brock that heavily support Clinton.

A leadership change soon follows, as those who disagree with the new pro-Clinton focus depart and are replaced by Clinton supporters. CREW had published an annual list of the “most corrupt” members of Congress, as well as other critical reports, but that stops.

When Clinton’s email scandal becomes public in March 2015, CREW will stay silent, even though the State Department’s inspector general concluded that CREW’s request for Clinton’s e-mails had been improperly denied. (Bloomberg News, 4/11/2016)

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)

March 2, 2015: Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill incorrectly claims that Clinton’s email practices followed “both the letter and spirit of the rules.”

Nick Merrill (Credit: Skidmore College)

Nick Merrill (Credit: Skidmore College)

Merrill’s comment appears in the March 2, 2015 New York Times story revealing that Clinton used a private email account when she was secertary of state. He won’t say why she did this. (The New York Times, 3/2/2015)

However, on March 12, 2015, Douglas Cox, a professor who focuses on records preservation laws, says: “While Clinton may have technical arguments for why she complied with [the various] rules that have been discussed in the news, the argument that Clinton complied with the letter and spirit of the law is unsustainable.” (Politifact, 3/12/2015)

In May 2016, the State Department’s inspector general will conclude that department officials “did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business.” Her daily use of a private email account for work matters is also determined to be in violation of department rules. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

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 10, 2015: Clinton falsely claims that her private server had “no security breaches.”

Clinton answers questions at a United Nations press conference on March 10, 2015. (Credit: The Associated Press)

Clinton answers questions at a United Nations press conference on March 10, 2015. (Credit: The Associated Press)

During her United Nations press conference, Clinton says about her private email server at her Chappaqua, New York, house: “The system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”

However, in May 2016, a State Department inspector general’s report will detail hacking attempts on Clinton’s emails housed in the server. In January 2011, Justin Cooper, who helped manage the server, wrote in an email that he shut down the server because he suspected “someone was trying to hack us…” Later that day, he wrote, “We were attacked again so I shut (the server) down for a few min [minutes].” And in May 2011, Clinton told her aides that someone was “hacking into her email.”

Additionally, the Associated Press will later comment that “it’s unclear what protection her email system might have achieved from having the Secret Service guard the property. Digital security breaches tend to come from computer networks, not over a fence.” (The Associated Press, 5/27/2016)

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)

150310LinickMcCulloughCSpan

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 18, 2015: Clinton’s team won’t answer basic questions about the security of her private server.

John A. Lewis (Credit: John Hopkins University)

John A. Lewis (Credit: John Hopkins University)

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill claims that when Clinton set up her private email server, “Robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques were employed over time as they became available. There was never evidence of a breach, nor any unauthorized intrusions.”

However, Merrill declines to say who exactly was in charge of maintaining the server and ensuring its security. Furthermore, it’s unclear what sort of security vetting that person or persons received, if any. Additionally, Merrill won’t reveal if other departments that protect government communications, such as the FBI or the NSA, were ever told of the server’s existence, and if so, if they helped provide security for it.

James A. Lewis, who held senior technology posts at the White House and State Department, comments that emails “that run on commercial services are vulnerable to collection. […] I don’t think people realize how much of this information is available to foreign intelligence services.” (Bloomberg News, 3/18/2015)

Contrary to Merrill’s claim, a May 2016 State Department inspector general report will reveal that there were hacker attacks on Clinton’s server.

Early June 2015: Two inspectors general join forces to look into Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email address when she was secretary of state.

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has already begun investigating Clinton’s emails and he and his staff read through hundreds of her emails. He has Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough get involved due to intelligence agencies having greater experience with classified records.

The concerns of the two inspectors general will continue to grow, leading them to ask the FBI to begin an investigation in early July 2015. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

Late June 2015: A State Department official claims to have no knowledge of Clinton’s private server, but later evidence will suggest otherwise.

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

Randy Turk (Credit: Baker Botts)

John Bentel, director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office while Clinton was secretary of state, is questioned behind closed doors by the House Benghazi Committee. According to a later account by his lawyer Randy Turk, Bentel testifies he has “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server and only learned about it from the newspapers in March 2015.

In early 2016, he will refuse to speak to Congressional investigators and then refuse to speak to a State Department inspector general’s investigators. But the inspector general’s report released in May 2016 will uncover emails and other witness accounts suggesting Bentel did know about her private server and that he stopped his staffers from taking action to keep Clinton’s email practices within the law. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016)

July 6, 2015: Two department watchdogs refer the Clinton email case to the FBI.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick jointly send the FBI a “security referral,” asking the FBI to investigate Clinton’s private emails and server. This grew out of McCullough and Steve Linick reviewing some of the over 30,000 Clinton emails handed over to the State Department in December 2014. (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) 

However, according to another account by CNN in August 2015, the FBI had already begun investigating Clinton’s emails in late May 2015, so presumably this referral would only have spurred on that effort. (CNN, 8/20/2015) The FBI formally begins their Clinton investigation four days later, on July 10, 2015.

September 4, 2015: Clinton says her decision to use a private server for all her emails “wasn’t the best choice” but “it was allowed and it was fully above board.”

Clinton grants an interview with Andrea Mitchell on NBC News, September 4, 2015. (Credit: NBC News)

Clinton grants an interview with Andrea Mitchell on NBC News, September 4, 2015. (Credit: NBC News)

She also says she “was not thinking a lot” when she began her term as secretary of state, because “there was so much work to be done.” When asked if that raises judgment questions, Clinton replies that she doesn’t think so. She adds that “The people in the government knew that I was using a personal account… the people I was emailing to on the dot gov system certainly knew and they would respond to me on my personal email.” (The Guardian, 9/9/2015) (NBC News, 9/4/2015) 

However, according to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, many senior department officials knew of her personal email account but “were unaware of the scope or extent” of it, especially the fact that that was her only email account. Even fewer knew that the account was hosted on a personal server. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

September 7, 2015: Clinton says she has nothing to apologize for regarding her email scandal.

Clinton speaks during a campaign stop in Hampton, Illinois on September 7, 2015. (Credit: Brian C. Frank / Reuters)

Clinton speaks during a campaign stop in Hampton, Illinois on September 7, 2015. (Credit: Brian C. Frank / Reuters)

In an interview, Clinton is directly asked if she will apologize, and does not do so. Instead, she claims, “What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that. […] It was fully above board. Everybody in the government with whom I emailed knew that I was using a personal email.”

The Washington Post notes, “As phrased, Clinton sidesteps the question of whether people knew she was exclusively using a private system.” (The Washington Post, 9/10/2015) (NBC News, 9/8/2016) 

However, a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report will conclude that nobody in government ever approved of her exclusive use of a personal email account or a personal server, and had the right authorities been told, they would not have approved. Clinton will then comment, “I thought it was allowed.” (The Associated Press, 5/27/2016)

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)

 

March 2, 2016–March 3, 2016: The FBI’s Clinton investigation could conclude by May 2016.

The New York Times reports, “A federal law enforcement official said that barring any unforeseen changes, the FBI investigation [into Clinton’s emails] could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom.”

In addition to the FBI investigation, there are continuing inquiries by the State Department inspector general, the Intelligence Community inspector general, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the House Benghazi Committee. There are also numerous on-going lawsuits that could reveal more information to the public. (The New York Times, 3/2/2016)

March 9, 2016: Seven Congressional Democrats accuse two inspectors general of politicizing their review of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

A letter addressed to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough is signed by the “ranking Democrats on the House and Senate committees overseeing intelligence, foreign affairs, government operations, Homeland Security and the judiciary.” The letter states, “Already, this review has been too politicized. […] We are relying on you as independent inspectors general to perform your duties dispassionately and comprehensively.”

A spokesperson for Linick rejects the accusations. Linick has released two interim reports about Clinton’s emails and server, and is expected to release a final report in another month or two. (The New York Times, 3/10/2016)

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)

May 25, 2016: An unnamed State Department official admits that Clinton’s email setup was problematic.

According to the Washington Post, “[State Department] officials didn’t have a ‘complete understanding’ of Clinton’s email practices, the official said. The official added that, in retrospect, the agency ‘wouldn’t have recommended the approach.’”

The comments come shortly after the release of a State Department inspector general report that is sharply critical of Clinton’s email practices. But the official also says the department has no plans to take disciplinary action based on the report. It is not clear how the department could punish Clinton since she no longer works in government. (The Washington Post, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton’s spokesperson defends Clinton not cooperating for the inspector general’s report by claiming she’s cooperating with the FBI investigation instead.

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Brian Fallon (Credit: Bloomberg Politics)

Clinton’s spokesperson, Brian Fallon, responds to the State Department inspector general’s report critiquing Clinton’s email practices.

He attempts to justify why Clinton and her top aides did not get interviewed for the inspector general’s report by saying, “To our mind, it made sense to prioritize the review being conducted by the Justice Department 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. And she has similarly encouraged all of her aides to cooperate in every way with that Justice Department review.”

By “Justice Department review,” he is referring to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, even though the FBI director recently said they are conducting an “investigation” and not any kind of “review.”

Fallon argues that by the time the FBI investigation is done, “it will be impossible for anybody to suggest that she didn’t answer every question that anybody had.”

According to Politico, “He also said that there were questions raised about whether the inspector general—an independent position appointed by President Barack Obama—has an anti-Clinton bias, though he said there was no indication of any bias in the [inspector general’s report].” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders still does not emphasize Clinton’s email scandal.

Jeff Weaver (Credit: Jack Gruber / USA Today)

Jeff Weaver (Credit: Jack Gruber / USA Today)

Politico reports that despite a new State Department inspector general report that is sharply critical of Clinton’s email practices, “Bernie Sanders’ [presidential] campaign is showing no signs that it will seize upon the latest revelations in her email scandal.”

Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, says, “Well, I think the report speaks for itself. This is obviously an area where the senator has chosen not to go. He’s tried to keep this campaign on the issues. […] And that’s why he’s doing so well in this campaign is because he’s talking about these substantive issues and people can make their own judgments about what is reported about the other issues.” (Politico, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The Washington Post’s editorial board publishes an editorial: “Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.”

This editorial is due to the critical State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s email practices made public earlier in the day. The editorial board says the report makes clear that Clinton’s use of a private server “was not a casual oversight,” because she “had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods…”

The editorial concludes that “there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications. While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules.” (The Washington Post, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: The State Department’s top two security officials say they would never have approved Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account.

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

Left: Gregory Starr Right: Steven C. Taylor (Credit: public domain)

A new State Department inspector general report determines that department rules required Clinton to get official approval to conduct official business using a personal email account on her private server, but she did not do so. 

In the words of the report, Steven C. Taylor, current head of Information Resources Management (IRM) and Gregory Starr, current head of Diplomatic Security (DS), jointly claim that Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs. However, according to these officials, DS and IRM did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: Clinton didn’t consult with anybody about exclusively using a personal email address or private server for work matters.

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, on September 3, 2015. (Credit: Fox News)

When former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills testified to the House Benghazi Committee in a private session on September 3, 2015, her comments remained secret.

However, on this day, a State Department inspector general’s report makes one portion of her testimony public. Mills was asked by the committee, “Was anyone consulted about Secretary Clinton exclusively using a personal email address for her work?”

Mills replied, “I don’t recall that. If it did happen, I wasn’t part of that process. But I don’t believe there was a consultation around it, or at least there’s not one that I’m aware of…”

Mills then was asked if Clinton consulted with “private counsel,” or “the general counsel for the State Department,” or “anybody from the National Archives [and Records Administation (NARA)],” or “anyone from the White House.”

Mills replied she wasn’t aware of any consultation from any of those people either.

The inspector general’s report also included comments from many other senior department officials about this, and “These officials all stated that they were not asked to approve or otherwise review the use of Secretary Clinton’s server and that they had no knowledge of approval or review by other Department staff. These officials also stated that they were unaware of the scope or extent of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account, though many of them sent emails to [her] on this account.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

May 25, 2016: A Bill Clinton assistant with no security clearance and no special computer expertise helped manage Hillary Clinton’s private server.

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper (standing in the doorway), David Axelrod, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe on board Air Force One on November 4, 2012. (Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

It had been previously believed that Bryan Pagliano was the one who managed Clinton’s private server. But the State Department inspector general’s report released on this day reveals that there actually were “two individuals who provided technical support to Secretary Clinton.”

The report rarely names names, but the individual other than Pagliano is described as someone who “was at one time an advisor to former President [Bill] Clinton but was never a [State] Department employee, [and] registered the clintonemail.com domain name on January 13, 2009.” Previous media reports made clear the person who registered the domain on that day and was an aide to Bill Clinton is Justin Cooper. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) (The Washington Post, 03/10/2015) 

In 2015, the Washington Post reported that Cooper had “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) 

However, the inspector general’s report describes a January 2011 incident in which Cooper turned Clinton’s server off and on in response to a hacker attack, showing he had direct access to the server and thus all the classified information contained inside it. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016) 

In April 2016, the Washington Times alleged that Bill and Hillary Clinton “have paid [Cooper’s] legal fees associated with the FBI investigation, amounting to ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars.’” (The Washington Times, 4/27/2016)

Between May 25, 2016 and July 5, 2016: State Department official John Bentel denies all allegations of wrongdoing in an FBI interview.

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

John Bentel (Credit: Facebook)

According to a 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, department officials alleged that John Bentel, the director of the Office of the Executive Secretariat for Information Resource Management, discouraged them from raising concerns about Clinton’s use of personal email. The report also alleges that Bentel falsely claimed that Clinton had legal approval for the use of her computer system.

At some point between the release of this report on May 25, 2016 and the conclusion of the FBI’s Clinton investigation by July 5, 2016, Bentel is interviewed by the FBI. According to an FBI summary, “Bentel denied that State [Department] employees raised concerns about Clinton’s email to him, that he discouraged employees from discussing it, or that he was aware during Clinton’s tenure that she was using a personal email account or server to conduct official State business.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

May 26, 2016: Clinton doubles down with her justifications, contradicting the inspector general’s report.

Clinton defends her email use with ABC News on May 26, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton defends her email use with ABC News on May 26, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton is interviewed by ABC News one day after the release of the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices. The ABC News headline about the interview says she “doubles down” on defending her past behavior. “This report makes clear that personal email use was the practice for other secretaries of state. It was allowed. And the rules have been clarified since I left.”

But, as ABC News points out, the report showed “that Clinton shouldn’t have used a private email server to conduct official business and would have not been allowed to do so had she asked. It also found that she should have turned over emails after her tenure and violated department policy.”

When asked why she did not agree to be interviewed for the report, “despite repeatedly saying she would talk to anyone, anytime about her emails,” Clinton replies, “I have talked about this for many, many months. I testified for eleven hours before the Benghazi Committee. I have answered numerous questions. We have posted information on our website and the information that we had is out there.” (ABC News, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: Clinton continues to insist she handed over all her work emails despite clear evidence to the contrary.

The Associated Press reports that the State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s emails released one day earlier refer to some Clinton work-related emails that were not included in the 30,000 work emails Clinton turned over in December 2014. The report stated that Clinton gave an “incomplete” account of her work emails, with obvious gaps, including failing to turn over any emails from her first two months as secretary of state.

According to the Associated Press, “The existence of these previously unreleased messages—which appear to have been found among electronic files of four former top Clinton State Department aides—renews concerns that Clinton was not completely forthcoming when she turned over [her 30,000 emails].”

Nevertheless, after the inspector general’s report was released, Clinton continues to maintain, “I have provided all of my work-related emails, and I’ve asked that they be made public, and I think that demonstrates that I wanted to make sure that this information was part of the official records.” (The Associated Press, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: Senate investigators protest they were not given copies of emails from Clinton and her top aides that were given to the State Department.

The State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s emails released one day earlier referred to some Clinton work-related emails that were not included in the 30,000 work emails Clinton turned over in December 2014. Senate investigators had asked the State Department for all of Clinton’s emails months ago.

Furthermore, in the summer of 2015, the department got 72,000 pages of work emails from four of Clinton’s top aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—and yet the department didn’t share those with Congressional investigators either.

Senator Charles Grassley (R), who has been leading a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server, says, “Documents in those 72,000 pages were systematically withheld from Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requestors and Congressional oversight committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair. […] It is disturbing that the State Department knew it had emails like this and turned them over to the inspector general, but not to Congress.” (The Associated Press, 5/26/2016) 

Even after the inspector general’s report was released, there still has been no sign the Department has shared those emails.

May 26, 2016: Some on Clinton’s campaign allegedly privately admit that Clinton tried to keep her emails from public scrutiny.

Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," published January, 2008. (Credit: Amazon)

Carl Bernstein’s “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” published January, 2008. (Credit: Amazon)

Journalist Carl Bernstein says that Clinton “set up a home brew server for purposes of evading the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], evading subpoenas from Congress, that’s its real purpose, to not have accountability, to not have transparency.”

He alleges, “if you talk to people around the Clinton campaign very quietly, they will acknowledge to you, if you are a reporter who knows some of the background, that this is the purpose of it. Is so she would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. So that—because the e-mails aren’t there, that nobody knew about this server.”

He also calls the recently released State Department inspector general report “a devastating event for Hillary Clinton. It is a time bomb that has been ticking and it’s starting to explode around her and there’s more to come because the FBI’s investigation is ongoing.”

In addition to his famous role exposing the Watergate scandal, Bernstein wrote a 2008 book about Clinton. (CNN, 5/27/2016)

May 26, 2016: Trump uses the State Department inspector general’s report to further criticize Clinton.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican frontrunner in the presidential election, comments in a Tweet, “The Inspector General’s report on Crooked Hillary Clinton is a disaster. Such bad judgment and temperament cannot be allowed in the WH [White House].”

The New Yorker Magazine opines, “Trump is himself a repository of bad judgment and character flaws, of course, but, on this occasion, he has been presented with an early Christmas present.” (The New Yorker, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: The New York Times’ editorial board criticizes Clinton after the inspector general’s report.

The Times publishes an editorial written by its editorial board entitled: “Hillary Clinton, Drowning in Email.”

It says that Clinton’s “campaign for the presidency just got harder” due to the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing her email practices. “Donald Trump, her Republican rival, will be merciless in swinging the inspector general’s report like a cudgel. […] Mrs. Clinton has to answer questions about the report thoroughly and candidly. That is her best path back to the larger task of campaigning for the presidency.” (The New York Times, 5/26/2016)

May 26, 2016: President Obama avoids commenting about Clinton’s email scandal.

President Obama speaks during a news conference in Shima, Japan, on May 26, 2016. (Credit: Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press)

President Obama speaks during a news conference in Shima, Japan, on May 26, 2016. (Credit: Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press)

One day after a State Department inspector general’s report was released criticizing Clinton’s email practices, President Obama is asked what he thinks of the report and if it “undermines her trustworthiness with the people.”

Obama replies, “Look, I’ve already said a lot about these issues. I think those are better directed to the campaign.” Obama has publicly commented on Clinton’s email scandal twice before, in October 2015 and April 2016. (The Hill, 5/26/2016)

May 27, 2016: Clinton’s spokesperson says her past comments may have been wrong, but not “untruthful.”

Factcheck.org publishes an analysis of Clinton’s past statements regarding her email scandal with the information in the newly released State Department inspector general’s report, and concludes that the report “contradicts several of Clinton’s long-standing talking points.”

Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon concedes that there are such contradictions, but that “doesn’t make her statements untruthful.” He explains: “It did not occur to her that having it on a personal server could be so distinct that it would be unapproved. We’re not intending to say post the IG [inspector general] report that her server was allowed. We don’t contest that. We’re saying—the use of personal email was widespread.”

Since the report has been released, Fallon and Clinton have continued to insist that Clinton’s use of a personal email account was allowed. But Factcheck.org points out that the department’s rules clearly prohibited using such an account for day-to-day business. The report discovered that Clinton was one of only three employees ever found to do so, and one of those (Scott Gration) resigned just before he was to be punished for it during Clinton’s term.

Fallon also says that “we agree in retrospect” with the report’s finding that “her practice of copying aides on her emails did not end up producing a full record since State’s IT [information technology] systems didn’t save everything. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t take steps to comply.”

However, Factcheck.org notes those steps only came 21 months later, due to pressure from the House Benghazi Committee, and even then, the emails she handed over don’t appear to have included all her work emails. (Factcheck.org, 5/27/2016)

May 27, 2016—May 29, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders rethinks his refusal to criticize Clinton over her email scandal.

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, interviews Bernie Sanders on May 27, 2016. (Credit: The Young Turks)

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, interviews Bernie Sanders on May 27, 2016. (Credit: The Young Turks)

Bernie Sanders is asked if the new State Department inspector general’s report has caused him to rethink his refusal to engage on the issue of Clinton’s email scandal. “It has,” he replies. (Bloomberg News, 5/28/2016) 

Two days later, he adds, “The inspector general just came out with a report, it was not a good report for Secretary Clinton. That is something that the American people, Democrats, and delegates are going to have to take a hard look at.”

He also says that when it comes to superdelegates and the report, “They will be keeping it in mind. I don’t have to tell them that. I mean, everybody in America is keeping it in mind, and certainly the superdelegates are.” (CBS News, 5/29/2016)

May 28, 2016: Clinton’s campaign chair strikes an apologetic tone, but Clinton herself does not.

John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign, sends a letter to Clinton’s top supporters responding to the recent State Department inspector general’s report criticizing Clinton’s email practices. It repeatedly emphasizes that Clinton made a “mistake,” and “she has taken responsibility for that mistake.”

This approach contrasts with Clinton’s actual interview comments since the report came out in which she has generally struck an unrepentant tone. For instance, in one such interview, she said, “There may be reports that come out, but nothing has changed. It’s the same story.” (BuzzFeed, 5/30/2016)

May 30, 2016: USA Today’s editorial board publishes an editorial: “Hillary Clinton broke the rules.”

The newspaper’s editorial board reacts to the State Department inspector general’s report criticizing Clinton’s email practices. “Clinton’s bad decision had turned into something far worse: a threat to national security, one that she repeatedly ignored despite multiple warnings.”

The editorial cites four warnings Clinton faced in a six-month period in 2011 that all pointed to the security danger of using a private email account. But despite these warnings, and others, “Clinton and several of her top aides continued to use personal email for sensitive State Department business thousands of times.”

It concludes, “It’s already clear that, in using the private email server, Clinton broke the rules. Now it remains to be seen whether she also broke the law.” (USA Today, 5/30/2016)

May 31, 2016: Clinton claims she never told anyone to hide her email usage.

State Department chief of information resource management, John Bentel (left), Hillary Clinton (right) (Credit: Yahoo News)

State Department chief of information resource management, John Bentel (left), Hillary Clinton (right) (Credit: Yahoo News)

The recently released State Department inspector general’s report mentions that two State Department employees expressed concerns about Clinton’s email usage but were told by their boss that her usage had been approved by the department’s lawyers when it had not, and “that the matter was not to be discussed any further.” Media reports have identified that boss as John Bentel. (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016) 

Clinton is asked about this in an interview, and says, “I do not know who that person is or, you know, what that person might have said because it’s not anything that I am aware of. […] I certainly never instructed anyone to hide the fact I was using a personal email. It was obvious to hundreds of people, visible to the many people that I was emailing throughout the State Department and the rest of the federal government.”

However, Clinton fails to mention that the problem was not her using a private email account, which was allowed. It was using a private email account for the majority of day-to-day business, which was not. (Politico, 5/31/2016)