August 19, 2014: Clinton and her future campaign chair Podesta appear to discuss classified information before Podesta warns her to stop.

John Podesta and Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Credit: Flickr)

John Podesta and Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Credit: Flickr)

Clinton forwards an email to her future campaign chair John Podesta. It is not clear where the forwarded email comes from, especially considering that Clinton is a private citizen at the time, since the sender’s name is not included. But it discusses nine detailed points on how to deal with the ISIS Islamist movement in Iraq and Syria. The forwarded email starts with the sentence: “Note: Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.”

Podesta replies with some brief commentary on the email.

Then Clinton emails him back, writing, “Agree but there may be opportunities as the Iraqi piece improves. Also, any idea whose fighters attacked Islamist positions in Tripoli, Libya? Worth analyzing for future purposes.”

Podesta then replies, “Yes and interesting but not for this channel.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

The email chain will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016. Thus, it is unknown what parts of the chain might be deemed classified by the US government.

October 7, 2016: The US government formally accuses the Russian government of hacking and publishing emails related to US political entities.

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James Clapper (Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper releases a statement in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security claiming that leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the US election process. … We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The New York Times comments that the statement does “not name President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but that appear[s] to be the intention.”

Many thousands of emails and other documents have been posted in recent months on the WikiLeaks website, but WikiLeaks won’t say where their leaks come from. Two newly created websites attributed to DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 have also posted leaks. Both groups claim to have no ties to the Russian government, but the US government claims otherwise.

The statement adds that US intelligence agencies are less certain who is responsible for “scanning and probing” online voter registration lists in various US states in recent months. Those “in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” but the statement doesn’t assert that the Russian government is responsible.

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Kerry (left) and Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov meet in Geneva to discuss the Syrian crisis on September 9, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse)

The Times notes that the “announcement [comes] only hours after Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Russian and Syrian governments to face a formal war-crimes investigation over attacks on civilians in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. Taken together, the developments mark a sharp escalation of Washington’s many confrontations with [Russia] this year.”

US officials had debated for months whether or not to formally accuse Russia, and if so, when. An unnamed “senior administration official” says that with only about a month to go before the November presidential election, President Obama was “under pressure to act now,” in part because the closer the declaration would be to election day, the more political it would seem.

It is unclear what action the US will take in an attempt to punish Russia, if any. A range of options are being considered, including economic sanctions and covert cyber attacks against Russian targets. (The New York Times, 10/7/2016)