November 4, 2014: Reporter Jason Leopold of Vice News files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of Clinton’s emails while she was secretary of state.

Jason Leopold (Credit: Vice News)

Jason Leopold (Credit: Vice News)

It has not yet been made public that Clinton used a private email address and private server, but Leopold will later explain the request came “when it became clear that she would announce her candidacy for US president. Our goal was to provide the public with information about Clinton’s work as the nation’s top diplomat between 2009 and 2013, along with any insight it offered into what a Clinton presidency would look like.” (Vice News, 2/29/2016) (Politico, 3/28/2015) The request will eventually lead to the public release of over 30,000 of Clinton’s emails. (Vice News, 11/4/2016)

January 25, 2015: A lawsuit filed this day will result in the release of all of Clinton’s work emails.

Judge Rudolph Contreras (Credit: The National Law Journal)

Judge Rudolph Contreras (Credit: The National Law Journal)

Jason Leopold of Vice News files a lawsuit seeking all of Clinton’s emails during her time as secretary of state. (Politico, 3/28/2015) Leopold first requested the emails in a November 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. (Vice News, 2/29/2016

As a result of this lawsuit, in May 2015, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras will order rolling production and release of the work-related emails in the State Department’s possession in monthly batches. (Vice News, 5/19/2015)

May 19, 2015: A federal judge orders the gradual release of all of Clinton’s work-related emails.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras orders the State Department to release the over 30,000 Clinton emails from her time as secretary of state in small batches, with redactions of any classified information. The State Department says it will finish doing so by January 29, 2016. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016

Over the next several months, the State Department will release 30,068 emails in 14 batches, with the final batch getting released one month late, on February 29, 2016. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

March 25, 2016: The FBI refuses to say much about its Clinton investigation.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from Vice News relating to Clinton’s private server, an FBI official states that while an investigation relating to the server is on-going, “the FBI has not and cannot publicly acknowledge the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such investigation.” (Vice News, 3/26/2016)

May 5, 2016: The State Department may postpone releasing documents about Clinton’s email security procedures until after the November 2016 presidential election.

Jason Koebler (Credit: Vice News)

Jason Koebler (Credit: Vice News)

In March 2015, shortly after Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email and server was first publicly revealed, Vice News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department for all “communications, presentations, and procedures created by the State Department to secure Hillary Clinton’s email from electronic threats.” In 2015, the Department began releasing some relevant emails, but no other relevant documents have been released.

After two delays, on this day, Vice News is told by the Department that the “estimated completion date” for the FOIA request has been “extended to December 2016.”

Vice News reporter Jason Koebler comments, “The FOIA process is a notorious mess, but it is patently ridiculous that records pertaining to the security practices of someone who stands a very good chance of running the country—and thus being in possession of highly sensitive documents at all times—won’t be made available to the public a year and a half after they were requested.” (Vice News, 5/5/2016)

June 6, 2016: The FBI is treating everything on Clinton’s private server as evidence or possible evidence in their Clinton investigation.

Jason Leopold (Credit: FOIA Project)

Jason Leopold (Credit: FOIA Project)

In a legal case, Vice News journalist Jason Leopold has tried to get the FBI to reveal more details of their investigation. The FBI has refused to do so, but in a court filing, the FBI comments: “[A]ll of the materials retrieved from any electronic equipment obtained from former Secretary Clinton for the investigation are evidence, potential evidence, or information that has not yet been assessed for evidentiary value.” Furthermore, the release of any of that additional information “could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation.” (The Hill, 6/8/2016)

July 22, 2016: More details of Clinton’s twenty-two “top secret” emails are revealed; nine were written by Clinton and most of the rest were written by her aide Jake Sullivan.

As part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold, the State Department reveals more information about seven chains of 22 “top secret” emails involving Clinton. (Curiously, FBI Director James Comey mentioned on July 5, 2016 that there actually were eight “top secret” email chains, but the eighth chain is not mentioned by the department.)

The contents of the emails remain totally classified, but previous media reports indicate that most of them discussed approval for covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, and some of them may have identified CIA operatives working undercover.

160722VaughnIndex

A sample of the Vaughn Index form submitted by the State Department, in response to the Vice News Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. (Credit: public domain)

For the first time, the department reveals which years the emails were sent and who sent and received them. All the emails were from 2011 or 2012 – the State Department began to have a say in approving CIA drone strikes in 2011. Nine of the emails were written by Clinton, and the other thirteen were written by her aide Jake Sullivan. Two were also cc’d by Sullivan to her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and/or Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

The State Department disclosure comes in the form of a “Vaughn Index,” which is a document used by government departments in FOIA lawsuits to justify the withholding of information under various FOIA exemptions. Vaughn Indexes contain at least some information about the withheld text, to justify keeping it redacted, but this one does not. Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, says that according to government regulations, “State’s document does not fulfill the requirements for a Vaughn index.” (Vice News, 7/22/2016) (The Hill, 7/22/2016)

September 15, 2016: More information about the emails between Clinton and Obama is made public.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: public domain)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: public domain)

While Clinton was secretary of state, she exchanged 18 emails with President Obama from her private email account. All information about these emails has remained classified. But some details are finally released due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Vice News.

All of the emails were exchanged between May 18, 2012 and January 31, 2013. Obama sent eight emails to Clinton, and the other ten were from Clinton to Obama. None of the emails appear to contain highly sensitive or classified information, but instead are thank you notes, holiday greetings, and the like.

All of the emails were withheld under presidential privilege and privacy act and deliberative process exemptions to the FOIA. The new details are formally submitted in  what is called a Vaughn Index, a document prepared for FOIA lawsuits in which government departments justify the withholding of information. (Vice News, 09/15/16) (Vicc News, 09/15/16)

In February 2016, it was reported there were 19 emails between Clinton and Obama, not 18. It is unclear if the Vaughn Index is missing one or if the report of 19 emails was off by one.