September 23, 2011: According to a State Department official, Clinton engages in Middle East negotiations using her unsecure BlackBerry.

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

On this day, Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meet in United Nations headquarters in New York City. The four of them work out a joint statement regarding an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by President Obama.

In a 2013 speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will discuss what happens between Clinton and Ashton: “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.” Sherman will comment that, “Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) (United Nations, 9/23/2011)

2012: Clinton’s private server is still run on software newly prohibited by the State Department.

At some point in 2012, The State Department bans the use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers, unless a waiver is given. It also bans all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers. However, according to records from December 2012, Clinton’s private email server continues to use remote-access software, and no evidence of a waiver allowing this has yet emerged.

Computer security expert Mikko Hypponen will say in 2015 that the use of remote-access software on her server was “clearly serious” and could have allowed hackers to run malicious software on it. (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015)

2012: The State Department is the worst US government department in dealing with FOIA requests.

Project On Government Oversight logo (Credit: POGO)

Project On Government Oversight logo (Credit: POGO)

According to the Center for Effective Government, a government watchdog group which will later merge into the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), in the fiscal year of 2012, Clinton’s last full year in office, the State Department ranks last out of the 15 major government departments for its handling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. It earns an “F” grade, with a score well below any other department. (Bloomberg News, 3/5/2015) (Center for Effective Government, 3/5/2016)

June 1, 2012: Clinton aide Huma Abedin holds four paid jobs at once with obvious conflicts of interest.

Huma Abedin (Credit: The Hill)

Huma Abedin (Credit: The Hill)

Abedin is Clinton’s deputy chief of staff during Clinton’s time as secretary of state. For the last six months of Clinton’s tenure, she participates in a “special government employee” six-month program that allows her to simultaneously work four paid jobs: the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and Teneo, a private consultancy with close ties to the Clintons. In autumn 2015, the State Department’s inspector general will subpoena the Clinton Foundation, requesting records about Abedin’s possible conflicts of interest. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)

Senator Charles Grassley (R) will later say he has “fundamental questions” about Abedin’s multiple jobs, asking her in a letter, “How can the taxpayer know who exactly you are working for at any given moment?” (The Washington Post, 8/27/2015)

July 14, 2012: Blumenthal sends Clinton another email that contains obviously classified information, but Clinton doesn’t flag it as such.

Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is declared winner of the Egyptian presidential election on June 24, 2012. (Credit: The European Press Agency)

Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is declared winner of the Egyptian presidential election on June 24, 2012. (Credit: The European Press Agency)

Clinton confidant and private citizen Sid Blumenthal marks the email “CONFIDENTIAL,” and then gives this warning: “SOURCE: Sources with access to the highest levels of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and Western Intelligence and security services. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.” The email then discusses secret meetings between senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian army which have taken place in recent days. (US Department of State, 1/7/2016

However, Clinton does not warn department security about this email that could jeopardize an intelligence asset in Egypt. Instead, she forwards the email to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment, “More timely info.” (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)

October 13, 2012: Clinton receives an email that reveals undercover CIA officers use State Department cover in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash, who is chief of staff to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the time, sends an email to four other US officials, including Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. Sullivan then forwards the email to Clinton. The email has the subject heading: “This a.m. Green on Blue.” That is an idiom referring to when police attacks soldiers. The email refers to an Afghan police officer triggering a suicide vest and killing or wounding 14 Americans or Afghans, including one dead American.

The email will later be classified at the “secret” level, suggesting some important classified information in it, but its redactions make it difficult to understand. There is no indication of a reply from Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be specifically asked about this email, again suggesting something unusual about it. However, her answer will also be heavily reacted. For instance, “Clinton believed she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

On February 4, 2016, NBC News will reveal that the email concerns undercover CIA officer Dario Lorenzetti. He died in the suicide attack described in the email. Lorenzetti’s CIA connection was leaked to the media by anonymous officials four days after his death and was widely reported in the news media, although his CIA cover was not lifted until later.

According to NBC News, in the redacted portions of the email, it seems Bash was trying “to preserve the CIA officer’s cover. But some of the language he used, now that Lorenzetti is known to have been a CIA officer, could be read as a US government acknowledgement that CIA officers pose as State Department personnel in a specific country, Afghanistan — something widely known but not formally admitted.” This is why the email is classified at the “secret” level.

Bash ends the email by instructing a CIA spokesperson to “please lash up with [redacted].” NBC News will indicate the missing word is “presumably either the spy agency or one of its employees.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

This may be the phrase that the FBI asked Clinton about, and to which she replied that “she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

NBC News will also interview Bash about this email. Bash will claim that the email “did not reference the individual’s name, employer, nor any identifying description or information.” Additionally, once the CIA posthumously lifted Lorenzetti’s cover, “the original unclassified email could be read to confirm the general use of cover, prompting the redactions we now see. But any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

October 26, 2012—November 14, 2012: An email to Clinton from her computer technician raises the question of if he sent her other emails.

On October 26, 2012, Bryan Pagliano sends Clinton an email with the subject line: “Happy Birthday!” His message is, “Happy Birthday Madam Secretary. To many more! Bryan.”

However, rather than directly replying, on November 14, 2012, Clinton forwards the email to her aide Robert Russo with the comment, “Pls [please] respond.”

She forwards dozens of other birthday emails to Russo on the same day, as she apparently has been too busy to reply to each one herself. Curiously, Clinton’s forward of Pagliano’s email (and not his original email) appears to be the only email to or from Pagliano or mentioning his name in the over 30,000 Clinton emails that will later be publicly released, even though he’s a State Department employee and is managing Clinton’s private server during her four years as secretary of state. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) 

In December 2015, it will be reported that a State Department file containing Pagliano’s emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state is missing. (Politico, 12/11/2015) 

Also in December 2015, Senator Chuck Grassley (R), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will say that his request to the State Department for emails between Pagliano and Clinton is his “highest-priority request.” (Business Insider, 3/3/2016)

October 30, 2012: Pagliano wants State Department help for Clinton’s private server, but doesn’t get it.

IDL TIFF fileImage of Hurricane Sandy at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 28, 2012. (Credit: Earth Observatory / NASA)

IDL TIFF fileImage of Hurricane Sandy at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 28, 2012. (Credit: Earth Observatory / NASA)

Starting around October 28, 2012, Hurricane Sandy disrupts power in the New York City area for a few days, including the Chappaqua, New York, area where Clinton’s private email server is located. On October 30, an email exchange between Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and another Clinton aide discusses that Clinton’s private server is down. Abedin’s main email account is hosted on the server.

Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano meets with staff from the department’s Information Resources Management (IRM) to find out if the department could provide support for Clinton’s server. Staffers tell Pagliano they can’t help because it is a private server.

This appears to be a very rare instance in which the existence of the server is mentioned to other department employees. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

December 6, 2012: A non-profit group files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking Clinton’s emails, but a Clinton aide says the emails don’t exist despite knowing that they do.

The CREW logo (Credit: CREW)

The CREW logo (Credit: CREW)

The request by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) ask for “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.” (US Department of State, 7/29/2016)

This request is sparked by reports that Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had been using an email account at work under the name “Richard Windsor.”

Clinton is still secretary of state at the time, and her chief of staff Cheryl Mills soon learns of CREW’s request, due to a December 11, 2012 email sent to her  (and possibly Clinton) about it. But although Mills is very aware of Clinton’s private email address since she frequently sends emails to it, she doesn’t take any action and merely has an aide monitor the progress of CREW’s request.

In May 2013, the State Department will respond to CREW, “no records responsive to your request were located.”

Other requests for Clinton’s records will meet the same fate until the House Benghazi Committee finds out about her private email account in 2014. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 1/6/2016)

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)

February 2013: Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano concludes his full-time employment at the State Department.

Gartner Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. (Credit: public domain)

Gartner Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. (Credit: public domain)

Like many other Clinton aides, Pagliano leaves the department the same month Clinton ends her term as secretary of state. Pagliano was secretly being paid for managing Clinton’s private server since May 2009. He remains a State Department contractor doing work on “mobile and remote computing functions.” (The Washington Post, 9/5/2015) 

Pagliano also starts working for Gartner, a global IT [information technology] company, though it’s unclear how much he works for Gartner and how much for the State Department.

He will lose his State Department contractor status some time after September 2015, when he pleads the Fifth Amendment before a Congressional committee. (The Daily Caller, 3/3/2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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)

Around February 1, 2013: Clinton should be debriefed as she leaves office, but it’s unclear if this happens.

State Department officials will later say that Clinton is required to go through a “read-off” debriefing around the time she ends her term as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. In the debriefing, security officials would remind her of her duty to return all classified documents, including ones where the classification status is uncertain. This would include her emails stored on her private server.

Former Diplomatic Security Service official Raymond Fournier will later say, “Once she resigned as secretary, she needed to return classified documents and other government-owned documents, which in this case would have included the server.” The debriefing would include her signing a nondisclosure agreement, but so far no such document has emerged. It also is unknown if the required debriefing took place, and if it did, why she didn’t turn her emails over at that time. Fournier will comment, “She’s in big, big trouble.” (The New York Post, 8/23/2015)

In a July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim she wasn’t given any instrutio on preserving her emails when she left office, which would suggest she never had an exit interview.

Shortly After February 1, 2013: Clinton apparently leaves the State Department without signing a required form stating that she returned all her work-related documents.

All State Department officials are required to sign a form when they leave office stating that they returned all their work-related documents back to the government. Although Clinton becomes a private citizen after ending her term as secretary of state on February 1, 2013, there is no evidence she signs such a form. Those who sign the OF-109 form acknowledge they could be subject to “criminal penalties” for not turning over the documents.

In March 2015, Jen Psaki, a State Department spokesperson, will say, “We have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files and do not have any record of her signing the [form]. […] I think we’re fairly certain she did not.” Psaki also notes that Clinton’s predecessors as secretary of state also don’t seem to have signed the form.

A State Department manual declares that “a separation statement will be completed whenever an employee is terminating employment,” but Psaki says there is no penalty for not signing the form. (Politico, 3/17/2015)

Shortly After February 1, 2013: Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills leaves blank a required form stating that she has returned all of her work-related documents.

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Vimeo)

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Vimeo)

All State Department officials are required to sign the “separation statement,” known as the OF-109 form. Those who sign the OF-109 form acknowledge they could be subject to “criminal penalties” for not turning over the documents.

In 2015, the Daily Caller will sue the State Department for several OF-109 forms. They will be given a form with Mills’ name on it, but with the date and signature spaces left blank. Mills used a private Yahoo email account for at least some of her government work.

A State Department official will neither explain the discrepancy nor confirm that Mills did not sign the agreement.

Clinton apparently never turns in her form. Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, does sign her form in February 2013, but she doesn’t turn over her private, work-related emails. (The Daily Caller, 11/13/2015) (The Hill, 11/13/2015) (US Department of State, 9/11/2015)

February 13, 2013: Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin signs a pledge that she has given all of her work-related documents back to the State Department, but she didn’t.

Huma Abedin on her cell phone in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on January 3, 2016. (Credit: Rick Friedman / Corbis)

Huma Abedin on her cell phone in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on January 3, 2016. (Credit: Rick Friedman / Corbis)

All State Department officials are required to sign the “separation statement” when they leave the department, known as the OF-109 form. However, Abedin has a private email address (huma@clintonemail.com) on the same private server that Clinton does, and when she leaves the department in February 2013 she does not turn over any of her emails from it, including work-related emails.

Her emails will not be handed over until a couple of years later, after various lawsuits and investigations. In signing the form, Abedin acknowledges she could be subject to “criminal penalties” for lying on the document.

The Hill will later report, “It’s unclear whether Abedin would be subject to prosecution, given the unusual nature of Clinton’s private email setup.” (The Hill, 11/13/2015) (US Department of State, 9/11/2015)

March 2013 or After: Cheryl Mills is re-hired to be one of Clinton’s personal lawyers.

Before Clinton was secretary of state, Mills was one of Clinton’s lawyers for several years. For the four years Clinton was secretary of state, from January 2009 to February 2013, Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff as well as her counselor. However, in a May 2016 court deposition, she will clarify that “the counselor role at the State Department is not a lawyer role. The counselor role at the State Department is actually a policy role.” During the deposition, Mills’ lawyer Beth Wilkinson also clarifies that Mills “wasn’t acting as a lawyer at the State Department.”

However, after Clinton’s tenure ends in February 2013, Mills is hired again as one of Clinton’s personal lawyers. (Clinton’s main personal lawyer for decades has been David Kendall.) In her deposition, Mills will fail to remember when she is hired again, except to say it was “post February of 2013.”

She will be working as one of Clinton’s lawyers in late 2014 when she, Kendall, and another lawyer will sort through Clinton’s emails and delete 31,830 of them. (Judicial Watch, 5/31/2016)

March 20, 2013: Gawker publishes an article that reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address and notes it “could be a major security breach.”

The article notes that the hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal. “[W]hy was Clinton apparently receiving emails at a non-governmental email account? The address Blumenthal was writing to was hosted at the domain ‘clintonemail.com’, which is privately registered via Network Solutions. It is most certainly not a governmental account. […] And there seems to be little reason to use a different account other than an attempt to shield her communications with Blumenthal from the prying eyes of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requesters.

Neither the State Department nor the White House would immediately comment on whether the White House knew that Blumenthal was digitally whispering in Clinton’s ear, or if the emails were preserved as the law requires. And if, as it appears, Blumenthal’s emails contained information that was classified, or ought to have been treated as such, it could be a major security breach for Clinton to have allowed it to be sent to her on an open account, rather than through networks the government has specifically established for the transmission of classified material.” (Gawker, 3/20/2013)

Late March 2013 or After: Emails between Clinton and Blumenthal are requested, but the State Department will fail to turn them over.

Gawker files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all emails between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal. Due to the revelation of Clinton’s exact email address by the hacker nicknamed Guccifer in March 2013, the request specifies that address along with Blumenthal’s AOL [America Online] address.

However, even though some emails between Clinton and Blumenthal had been made public by Guccifer, the State Department eventually tells Gawker it could find no records responsive to the request. The exact timing of the request and the reply is not clear. (The New York Times, 3/3/2015) (Gawker, 3/3/2015)

May 3, 2013: In a public speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman says Clinton conducts diplomacy on her unsecure BlackBerry.

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Sherman says that technology “has changed the way diplomacy is done. […] Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” She recalls the 2011 United Nations General Assembly, during which Clinton and European diplomat Catherine Ashton negotiated. “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.”

The Hill will later note that Sherman’s comments “suggest that diplomats across the [State Department] routinely declined to use special protections for classified information to prioritize convenience.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) 

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later make the general observation, “The State Department has a longstanding reputation for being less than serious about security, and its communications have often wound up in foreign hands. It’s something of a tradition at [State Department headquarters], to the chagrin of the Intelligence Community…” (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

May 10, 2013: The State Department responds to a FOIA request that there is no evidence of a Clinton email address when there clearly is.

On December 6, 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts.

Anne Weismann (Credit: public domain)

Anne Weismann (Credit: public domain)

On this day, State Department official Sheryl Walter sends a response letter to CREW’s chief counsel Anne Weismann that states “no records responsive to your request were located.” No details or reasons are given. (US Department of State, 8/29/2016)

In fact, Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills was informed about this FOIA request while Clinton was still secretary of state, and she knew Clinton’s private email address was responsive to the request, but she took no action and merely had another official monitor the progress of the request. Clinton may have been sent an email about it as well.

Also, in the months since the FOIA request was made, Clinton’s exact email address was revealed to the media, due to the Guccifer hack of a Clinton associate in March 2013. But the department’s “no response” reply would mean she used no email address for work.

Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, will conclude in a 2016 report that the State Department gave an “inaccurate and incomplete” response about Clinton’s email use in this case and in other similar cases. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Washington Post, 1/6/2016)

May 21, 2013—February 12, 2014: Clinton’s emails are not searched in response to a relevant FOIA request.

On May 21, 2013, Judicial Watch files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request relating to Clinton aide Huma Abedin and the six-month time period starting in 2012 when she held three outside jobs in addition to being Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Part of the request is for communications about this matter from Clinton and Abedin.

State Department official Jonathon Wasser is asked to search for relevant records on October 1, 2013. He searches several department databases in November 2013, but does not check for emails from Abedin’s government email account or her private account, or Clinton’s private account. As a result, the official response given to Judicial Watch on February 12, 2014, contains only eight documents, and none of them are emails. Thus, Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account will remain a secret.

It will later be revealed that department officials at the time generally did not search for emails even when a FOIA request asked for that type of communication.

In 2015, after Clinton’s email scandal becomes public, the department will finally search for and find emails from both Clinton and Abedin responsive to the FOIA request. (Politico, 6/9/2016(Judicial Watch, 6/8/2016)

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 7, 2013: State Department officials find 17 FOIA requests relating to Clinton’s emails at the time the department found her email address, but none of the requesters are told about the emails.

Sheryl Walter (Credit: Facebook)

Sheryl Walter (Credit: Facebook)

In December 2012, the non-profit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for records that show the number of Clinton’s email accounts. (US Department of State, 7/29/2016) But in May 2013, State Department official Sheryl Walter sent a response letter to CREW that stated “no records responsive to your request were located.” US Department of State, 8/29/2016)

In early June 2013, some State Department officials looking over material to possibly give to a Congressional investigation discovered Clinton’s private email address. Then, in the ensuing weeks, senior department officials debated if they were required to turn over such information. In fact, regulations state they are required to do so, but they ultimately fail to share the address with anyone anyway. (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

During this apparent debate period, on August 7, 2013, employees of the department’s FOIA response team search for FOIA requests related to Clinton’s emails.

Geoff Hermesman (Credit: LinkedIn)

Geoff Hermesman (Credit: LinkedIn)

Margaret Grafeld mentions in an email to John Hackett, Sheryl Walter, Karen Finnegan, Geoff Hermesman, and two other department officials, “John, you mentioned yesterday requests for Secretary Clinton’s emails; may I get copies, pls [please] and thx [thanks].”

Sheryl Walter replies to the group, “Goeff, can you get a copy of all requests related to this request? Karen, I don’t think we have any litigation on this topic, do we? Did we respond to the CREW request yet?” (Walter actually was the one who wrote CREW in May 2013 that no emails had been found.)

Geoff Hermesman then replies to Sheryl Walter and the group, “Sheryl, A search of the F2 database identified 17 FOIA cases that contain Clinton in the subject line and can be further construed as requests for correspondence between the Secretary and other individuals and/or organizations. Of these, four specifically mention emails or email accounts.” He also mentions that two of those four cases are open and the other two are closed.

Gene Smilansky (Credit: New York Times)

Gene Smilansky (Credit: New York Times)

Walter then emails just Karen Finnegan and Gene Smilansky, “What about the CREW request? Is that still outstanding?”

Finnegan explains in subsequent emails to Walter and Smilansky that CREW was sent a response, and then provides the exact quote of the CREW request.

Smilansky, who is a department lawyer and legal counsel, then asks Walter and Finnegan to discuss it with him over the phone, so that is the end of the email trail. (US Department of State, 8/29/2016)

There is no evidence any of the 17 FOIA requesters are told about Clinton emails that are responsive to their cases, presumably due to the above-mentioned higher-level department debate. Only in the later half of 2014 will the department change this policy, after a new Congressional committee search for documents.

August 13, 2013: Hillary Clinton has based herself and her aides at the Clinton Foundation while she prepares to run for president again.

Clinton speaking at a press conference in December 2014. (Credit: Politico)

Clinton speaking at a press conference in December 2014. (Credit: Politico)

It is reported that with Clinton’s term as secretary of state having ended in February 2013, she is centering her activity in the Clinton Foundation. She had been a non-paid member of the foundation’s board of directors before becoming secretary of state, and she returns to the board. Many of her closest aides left the State Department at the same time she did and continue to work for her in a private capacity, such as Huma Abedin, Maura Pally, and Dennis Cheng.

Clinton and her staff are relocating to the foundation’s headquarters in New York City. The New York Times reports: “In the coming months, as Mrs. Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential bid, the foundation could also serve as a base for her to home in on issues and to build up a stable of trusted staff members who could form the core of a political campaign.” (The New York Times, 8/13/2013)

September 10, 2013: Records are sought for Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s multiple simultaneous jobs.

The Judicial Watch logo (Credit: Judicial Watch)

The Judicial Watch logo (Credit: Judicial Watch)

Judicial Watch, a politically conservative non-profit advocacy organization, files a complaint against the State Department in a US district court seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) relating to Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff. Judicial Watch is particularly interested in Abedin’s role as a “special government employee” (SGE), a consulting position which allowed her to represent outside clients while also serving at the State Department. (Judicial Watch, 3/12/2015) 

The lawsuit will be dismissed in March 2014, but then in June 2015 it will be reopened due to the discovery of Clinton’s private email account. (Judicial Watch, 6/19/2015)

September 22, 2013: The Clinton Foundation’s possible conflicts of interest are scrutinized.

Bill Clinton (left) and Douglas Band (right). (Credit: The White House)

Bill Clinton (left) and Douglas Band (right). (Credit: The White House)

The New Republic publishes a long investigative article about Douglas Band, who has simultaneously been Bill Clinton’s personal assistant, a top manager in the Clinton Foundation, and the head of the Teneo consulting firm. It discusses the Clinton Foundation: “Bill Clinton now leads a sprawling philanthropic empire like no other. The good it achieves is undeniable. It has formed partnerships with multinationals and wealthy individuals to distribute billions of dollars all over the globe. Its many innovative projects include efforts to lower the costs of medicines in developing nations and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in major cities. And yet it’s hard to shake the sense that it’s not all about saving the world. There’s an undertow of transactionalism in the glittering annual dinners, the fixation on celebrity, and a certain contingent of donors whose charitable contributions and business interests occupy an uncomfortable proximity. More than anyone else except Clinton himself, Band is responsible for creating this culture. And not only did he create it; he has thrived in it.”

The article also says, “For corporations, attaching Clinton’s brand to their social investments offered a major PR [public relations] boost. As further incentive, they could hope for a kind word from Clinton the next time they landed in a sticky spot. ‘Coca-Cola or Dow or whoever would come to the president,’ explains a former White House colleague of Band’s, ‘and say, ‘We need your help on this.’ Negotiating these relationships, and the trade-offs they required, could involve some gray areas.” Potential conflicts of interest with Band’s Teneo company, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton’s role as secretary of state were a major issue as long as she held that job. (The New Republic, 9/22/2013)

September 30, 2013: The State Department finally gets a new permanent inspector general.

Steve Linick is sworn in as inspector general by Secretary of State John Kerry on October 29, 2003. (Credit: US Department of State)

Steve Linick is sworn in as inspector general by Secretary of State John Kerry on October 29, 2003. (Credit: US Department of State)

Steve Linick becomes the new inspector general of the department. From 2008 until this time, including the entire duration when Clinton was secretary of state, the department had only a temporary acting inspector general. The inspector general is the department’s chief watchdog and is responsible for detecting and investigating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. (US Department of State, 9/30/2013) (The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2015)