July 23, 2010: An email forwarded to Clinton includes the name and email address of at least one secret CIA official.

A US official whose name is later classified sends an email to at least two dozen other US officials. Most of their names will later be classified as well. At least one redacted recipient’s name is that of a secret CIA official. The email concerns a recent WikiLeaks release of classified documents and includes an attachment that has a statement by senior Defense Department officials and relevant talking points. Clinton aide Jake Sullivan forwards the email to Clinton. (US Department of State, 2/26/2016)

July 25, 2010: An email chain forwarded to Clinton includes the name and email address of a secret CIA official.

Julian Assange (Credit: David G. Silver / Flickr)

Julian Assange (Credit: David G. Silver / Flickr)

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan forwards Clinton an email chain that has been discussing the recent releases of classified US government information by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Over 30 US officials are included in the email chain; the name and email address of one of them will later be redacted because that person is a secret CIA official. (US Department of State, 2/13/2016)

November 28, 2010: WikiLeaks releases over 250,000 State Department cables, but Clinton does not change her unsecure communication methods.

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

Mark Penn (Credit: PR News)

WikiLeaks, working with several major media outlets, begins publicly releasing over 250,000 diplomatic cables between the State Department and US embassies around the world. The cables date from 1966 to February 2010. None of the cables are classified at a level higher than “confidential,” the lowest classification level.

Clinton responds with the public comment, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity. […] It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.” (USA Today, 11/29/2010) (The New York Times, 11/28/2010) 

Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist for her 2008 presidential campaign, sends Clinton an email in which he recommends, “I think you need to order a full scale review and upgrading of the cyber security of the State Department immediately.” (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) 

However, despite this being the largest breach of State Department classified information in history, Clinton doesn’t change her personal communication methods, and continues to use an unsecured BlackBerry and an unsecured private email server. It is unknown if the State Department changes its cybersecurity as a whole, and if so, how.

November 29, 2010: Clinton pledges improved communication security after the WikiLeaks leak, but the department remains highly vulnerable.

WikiLeaks Logo (Credit: WikiLeaks)

WikiLeaks Logo (Credit: WikiLeaks)

One day after WikiLeaks releases over 250,000 State Department cables, Clinton states, “I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again.” (US Department of State, 11/29/2010

However, in October 2013, Buzzfeed will report that “The State Department’s communications system is operating without basic technical security measures in place, despite warnings about its vulnerabilities…” The system, called SMART (the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset), is used to share department communications, including the exact same kind of cables leaked by WikiLeaks. Buzzfeed further reports that its anonymous sources “say the failures have left thousands of cables and messages, including highly sensitive and classified ones, vulnerable to espionage or leaks for the last four years.” (Buzzfeed, 10/2/2013)

December 16, 2011: Clinton criticizes Manning, who will be sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified information

Chelsea Manning (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Chelsea Manning (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Clinton comments on the imminent court martial case of Army Private Bradley Manning (later Chelsea Manning), after Manning gave a large cache of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Clinton says, “I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.” (CBS News, 12/16/2011

Manning is later convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison, although none of the documents in question are rated “top secret.”

The Intercept will later note that Clinton’s comments occur “during the time that she had covertly installed a non-government server and was using it and a personal email account to receive classified and, apparently, even top-secret information.” (The Intercept, 8/12/2015)

October 2, 2013: Three years after WikiLeaks leaked 250,000 State Department cables, the department’s communication system “is operating without basic technical security measures in place, despite warnings about its vulnerabilities…”

The SAIG Logo (Credit: public domain)

The SAIG Logo (Credit: public domain)

This is according to a BuzzFeed article. The system is known as SMART (the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset), and is used to share internal department documents, including the diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks. SMART is a two-tiered system, for both classified and unclassified information. SMART was launched in 2009, and the department has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to contractors for it, mostly to the company SAIC.

Unnamed sources “say the failures have left thousands of cables and messages, including highly sensitive and classified ones, vulnerable to espionage or leaks…” 

A former deputy program manager from one such contractor complains, “There is this attitude that security didn’t even come into the picture…I’m talking IT [information technology] security basics, standard fundamental things that a first-year admin would find.”

In 2012 and 2013, internal investigations revealed grave, unresolved security issues. “According to documents reviewed by BuzzFeed, several employees raised concerns starting from the beginning of the SMART rollout. They were told to not pursue the issue. Some were told, with stern overtones, that it wasn’t within their job descriptions to do so.” (Buzzfeed, 10/2/2013)

August 17, 2015: A former State Department official claims Clinton is being given special treatment for her email scandal.

Peter van Buren (Credit: Burenwemeantwell)

Peter van Buren (Credit: Burenwemeantwell)

Peter van Buren was a department diplomat until he was fired in 2012 during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. He says, “I cannot conceive any other person in government being able to do what she did without being punished,” he says. Van Buren was fired for linking to WikiLeaks on his personal blog and other charges. But he claims he was punished for being a whistleblower and criticizing Clinton.

After a legal battle, the State Department withdrew their charges against him and he was able to retire with a full pension and benefits. (US News and World Report, 8/17/2015(The Washington Post, 3/14/2012)

March 12, 2016: Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, appears to leak a debate question to the Clinton campaign in advance.

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”

Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.

Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)

June 12, 2016: WikiLeaks says it will be making public more of Clinton’s previously unpublished emails.

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

Juilan Assange appears on ITV on June 12, 2016. (Credit: ITV)

In an interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is asked if his organization has any of Clinton’s “undisclosed emails.” He replies, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” and “We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton pending publication, that is correct.” He also says, “There is very strong material both in the emails and in relation to the Clinton Foundation.”

He believes this contains enough evidence for the FBI to recommend Clinton’s indictment: “We’ve accumulated a lot of material about Hillary Clinton. We could proceed to an indictment.”

He doesn’t specify when or how many emails might be published. Asked about the FBI’s Clinton investigation, he believes the Justice Department will do the bidding of President Obama and so they will not indict Clinton. (The Guardian, 6/12/2016(ITV, 6/12/2016)

Several days later, a hacked using the nickname Guccifer 2.0 shares files from a recent hack of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and claims to have given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks. (Wired, 6/15/2016) (Vice News, 6/15/2016) 

June 15, 2016: A hacker nicknamed Guccifer 2.0 posts files showing they were behind the DNC hack.

(Credit: public domain)

(Credit: public domain)

One day after the Washington Post reported that alleged Russian hackers broke into the DNC’s [Democratic National Committee] computer network, a man using the nickname “Guccifer 2.0” creates a new website on the Internet showing that person got the DNC files. Guccifer 2.0 likely has no connection to Guccifer, who is now in a US prison, but seems inspired to take the name due to Guccifer’s earlier hacking notoriety.

He posts a 200-page opposition research file on Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump dating from December 2015, as well as other computer files from the DNC. The files include a sample of donor information, contradicting the DNC’s claim from the day before that no financial information had been stolen.

Guccifer 2.0 also claims to have given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks. This comes several days after WikiLeaks head Julian Assange promised to post more of Clinton’s emails soon. The security firm CrowdStrike was hired to investigate the DNC hack, and they claimed to be confident that it was a sophisticated operation done by two hacking groups with ties to the Russian government.

However, Guccifer 2.0 claims to be working independently, and says of CrowdStrike, “I’m very pleased the company appreciated my skills so highly. But in fact, it was easy, very easy.”

However, CrowdStrike stands by their original claim and suggests the new website could be “part of a Russian intelligence disinformation campaign.” (Wired, 6/15/2016) (Vice News, 6/15/2016) 

NBC News reports that “several Democratic sources familiar with the party’s opposition research efforts said they believed opposition research book to be authentic. It also includes links to data stored on internal DNC servers, which would not accessible to people outside the committee.” (NBC News, 6/15/2016)

June 17, 2016: A “deadman’s switch” file increases speculation that WikiLeaks could soon release more Clinton documents.

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the "deadman's switch" and a "risk insurance" picture. Credit: public domain)

(A June 17, 2016 WikiLeaks post, including mention of the “deadman’s switch” and a “risk insurance” picture. Credit: public domain)

WikiLeaks posts on the Internet an 88-gigabyte encrypted file labeled “WIKILEAKS INSURANCE,” along with the comment, “Protect our coming publications.” This is believed to be a “deadman’s switch,” meaning that unless WikiLeaks personnel are not there to periodically confirm their status, the file will be automatically decrypted, revealing its contents to those who have downloaded it. WikiLeaks have posted several similar files in previous years.

Heavy.com notes that because of recent comments by WikiLeaks head Julian Assange that the organization will soon be publishing more of Clinton’s emails, “many people are wondering if this insurance file is meant to ensure that WikiLeaks can release potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” The file is large enough to contain millions of files if they are all text-based files, but it could include video or other files that take up much more space.

Heavy.com also notes that the reason WikiLeaks doesn’t simply post the files right away is, “The organization often combs through files to redact any sensitive information that might put lives in danger. The INSURANCE file is typically the unredacted version.” (Heavy.com, 6/17/2016)

July 7, 2016: WikiLeaks claims the FBI did not ask them for copies of the Clinton documents they (WikiLeaks) are preparing to release.

WikiLeaks posts a tweet that states: “The FBI did not ask us for copies of our upcoming Hillary Clinton leaks before concluding its investigation. Credible detective work! Not.” (WikiLeaks, 7/7/2016)

On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange said in a public interview that WikiLeaks is preparing to publish leaks relating to Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation. (The Guardian, 6/12/2016(ITV, 6/12/2016)

Also on July 7, 2016, WikiLeaks posts another tweet, suggesting that a release of Clinton documents will be coming soon: “Have more than 1,000,000 followers? Want early access to our pending Hillary Clinton publications? DM @WikiLeaks” (WikiLeaks, 7/7/2016)

July 21, 2016: The White House holds a high-level security meeting to discuss reports that the Russian government hacked into the DNC computer network.

The meeting takes place only one day before WikiLeaks publicly releases almost 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. However, when the Washington Post reports on this meeting a few days later, it will give no indication if US intelligence knew of the leak in advance and thus discussed that in the meeting or not. According to the Post, “Officials from various intelligence and defense agencies, including the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security, attended the White House meeting…” (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 DNC emails as the first of a series of Clinton-related leaks.

WikiLeaks publicly releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 email attachments recently hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The emails are from seven DNC officials: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10,770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3,797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3,095 emails), Finance Director Zachary Allen (1,611 emails), Finance Director of Data and Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1,472 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails are from January 2015 until May 25, 2016.

160722DNCMontage

The seven DNC officials are left to right Luis Miranda (Credit: public domain), Jordan Kaplan (Credit: Facebook), Scott Comer (Credit: Linked In), Zachary Allen (Credit: Twitter), Daniel Parrish (Credit: Linked In), Andrew Wright (Credit: Linked In), Robert (Erik) Stowe (Credit: Linked In)

In announcing the release, WikiLeaks mentions this is “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series.” (WikiLeaks, 7/22/2016)

Julian Assange, head of WikiLeaks, mentioned in a June 2016 interview that other coming releases will relate to the Clinton Foundation and to Clinton’s emails (although it’s not clear how many there are or where and when they are from). It also was reported in June 2016 that the DNC computer network had been recently hacked, along with other political entities, such as the Clinton campaign. It also was suspected that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack. However, a previously unknown hacker named Guccifer 2.0 emerged and claimed to be behind the hack, and also claimed to have no ties to Russia. He furthermore claimed to have given thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks has a policy of never revealing the sources of their leaked material, and has maintained that policy for this release.

July 22, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 takes credit for the DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks.

160722Guccifer2Tweet

Tweet posted by Guccifer 2.0 on July 22, 2016. (Credit: Guccifer 2.0 / Twitter)

Shortly after WikiLeaks publishes almost 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 takes credit. His website is not updated, but he writes at his Twitter account: “@wikileaks published #DNCHack docs I’d given them!!!” (Twitter, 6/22/2016)

He has previously posted many DNC files on his own website, starting on June 15, 2016. And on that same day, he claimed that he had given “thousands of files and mails” to WikiLeaks.

 

July 24, 2016—July 26, 2016: Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook suggests the Russian government is behind the release of DNC emails by WikiLeaks.

160724RobbieMookDouglasGrahamCQRollCallGroup

Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook (Credit: Douglas Graham / Congressional Quarterly Roll Call Group)

On July 24, 2016, Mook says, “What’s disturbing about this entire situation is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC [Democratic National Committee], took all those emails, and are now leaking them out through these websites,” such as WikiLeaks. “It’s troubling that some experts are telling us this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping [Republican presidential nominee] Donald Trump.”

Mook also apologizes for the content of some emails, which show the DNC had a bias in favor of Clinton and against Senator Bernie Sanders, despite DNC rules that it should be neutral in the Democratic primaries. (The Hill, 7/24/2016)

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort calls Mook’s comments “pure obfuscation.” He adds, “What they don’t want to talk about is what’s in those emails.” (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)

Two days later, Mook makes similar accusations about Russia. He also says, “I think the timing around our convention was not a coincidence.” WikiLeaks released 20,000 DNC emails on June 22, 2016, just three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. (The Hill, 7/26/2016)

July 24, 2016: It is suggested that the Russian government has attempted to influence elections in other countries, sometimes by using front groups.

160724MichaelVickersBAESystems

Michael Vickers (Credit: BAE Systems, Inc.)

Michael Vickers, who was undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2011 to 2015, says that if the Russian government is behind the recent leak of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks, it would be unprecedented for the US. “What is really new here is the attempt to influence the politics of the United States. That is the problem.”

However, he also points out that there is evidence the Russians have attempted to influence elections in European countries close to their border. For instance, in 2004, a Russian hacker group calling itself Cyber Berkut claimed it hacked and disabled the electronic vote-counting system of the Ukraine central election commission three days before the presidential election. However, analysts believe the hack was actually done by the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU), one of two Russian military intelligence agencies accused of recently hacking the DNC. These analysts claim the GRU created Cyber Berkut as a false front to deflect responsibility. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)

July 24, 2016: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), resigns after a WikiLeaks release of DNC emails.

Wasserman Schultz announces her resignation as chair of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday, July 24, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Just one day before the Democratic National Convention, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) announces she is resigning from her position as the chair of the DNC. This comes in response to WikiLeaks releasing 20,000 leaked emails from a recent hack of the DNC. The New York Times says that the emails “showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the [presidential] campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

Earlier in the day, Sanders called the situation an “outrage” and called for Wasserman Schultz to step down. She announced her resignation after a private meeting with Clinton’s senior aides. The Times comments that even prior to the email leak, “Ms. Wasserman Schultz has faced a flurry of negative stories during her five-year tenure as the committee’s chairwoman… but she had resisted calls for her to quit.”

The Times also reports: “The breach of the Democratic committee’s emails… offered undeniable evidence of what Mr. Sanders’s supporters had complained about for much of the senator’s contentious primary contest with Mrs. Clinton: that the party was effectively an arm of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.”

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), replaces Wasserman Schultz as interim chair through the end of the November 2016 election. (The New York Times, 7/24/2016)

July 25, 2016: The FBI formally acknowledges it is investigating the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack.

The FBI has been investigating the hack of the DNC and related political entities for months. For instance, the FBI warned the Clinton campaign they were the target of hacking attacks in March 2016. However, this is the first public admission of an investigation. An FBI spokesperson says the bureau will “investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.” This announcement comes three days after WikiLeaks publicly posted almost 20,000 emails from the DNC.

160725RussianMilitaryIntelligenceEmblempublic

Emblem of the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) (Credit: public domain)

The Washington Post reports that according to unnamed ” individuals familiar with the investigation,” the FBI is focusing on the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije or GRU, and looking into if it was responsible for giving the emails to WikiLeaks. However, it is believed that the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB, broke into the DNC’s computers as well.

The FBI wants to determine with certainty whether the Russian government passed the emails to WikiLeaks. This is likely to involve other US intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and the CIA, which potentially could intercept communications or gather intelligence overseas.

If it is definitively proven that the Russians are responsible, then the US would have to consider what to do next. The Post comments, ” Responses could range from a diplomatic wrist slap or warning to countermeasures.” In 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked, and there were reports that the government of North Korea was responsible. The US government imposed economic sanctions on North Korea in response. President Obama also signed an executive order enabling US officials to impose economic sanctions in response to significant hacking attacks. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)

July 25, 2016: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden says the Russians could be “weaponizing information” with leaks of hacked emails.

160725MichaelHaydenLuisMAlvarezAP

Former CIA director Michael Hayden (Credit: Luis M. Alvarez / The Associated Press)

Hayden says that if the Russian government is behind the recent leaks of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks, this would mean “they’re clearly taking their game to another level. It would be weaponizing information. You don’t want a foreign power affecting your election. We have laws against that.”

Hayden was appointed head of the NSA by President Bill Clinton and then he was later appointed head of the CIA by President George W. Bush. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)

July 25, 2016: WikiLeaks discourages suggestions that the Russian government is behind its release of DNC emails.

160725WikileaksDNCLogo

Wikileaks cartoon that accompanied the DNC documents release. (Credit: Latoff / Wikileaks)

In an interview with NBC News, Wikileaks leader Julian Assange won’t say who gave WikiLeaks the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails they have recently made public, as the group has a policy to never reveal their sources.

However, Assange discourages the widespread speculation that the emails come from hackers linked to the Russian government. Assange suggests that the DNC’s security was so weak that it could have been hacked by multiple groups. He also insists, “The emails that we have released are different sets of documents to the documents of those [that] people have analyzed.”

A hacker or hacking group going by the name of Guccifer 2.0 claims to have given the emails to WikiLeaks, but WikiLeaks has not confirmed this.

A WikiLeaks representative also comments, “Our publication of leaked DNC emails and the many DNC hacks over the last two years are separate incidents and should not be conflated.” (The Daily Beast, 7/26/2016)

July 26, 2016: WikiLeaks head Julian Assange says WikiLeaks might release “a lot more material” relevant to the US presidential campaign.

160727AssangeMatthewChanceCNN

CNN’s Matthew Chance interviews Julian Assange over a video link on July 26, 2016. (Credit: CNN, Moscow)

Assange is vague on details about future releases. He is asked by CNN about reports that the Russian government might be behind the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network. WikiLeaks has a policy of never revealing its sources, and Assange maintains that policy by refusing to confirm or deny anything. He says, “Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment. Some people may have egg on their faces. But to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are.”

He additionally says that Clinton and other Democratic officials are using the specter of Russian involvement to distract from the content of the emails. “It raises questions about the natural instincts of Clinton that when confronted with a serious domestic political scandal, she tries to blame the Russians, blame the Chinese, et cetera. Because if she does that while in government, it could lead to problems.” (CNN, 7/27/2016)

July 26, 2016: President Obama suggests Russians could be behind the hack that led to the WikiLeaks release of DNC emails.

President Obama is asked if Russia could be behind hacks that led to 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails getting released by WikiLeaks. He says the FBI is still investigating but also “experts have attributed this to the Russians.”

160726ObamaGuthrieNBCNews

Obama (left) is interviewed by Today’s Savannah Guthrie on July 26, 2016. (Credit: NBC)

He adds, “What we do know is is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems. But you know, what the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that — I can’t say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”

Asked if he’s suggesting that Russian leader Vladimir Putin could be motivated to help Trump win the November 2016 election, Obama replies, “I am basing this on what Mr. Trump himself has said. And I think that — Trump’s gotten pretty favorable coverage­­­ — back in Russia.” (Politico, 7/26/2016)

He stops stopped short of accusing Russia of trying to manipulate the election, but says “anything’s possible.” He also claims that “on a regular basis, [the Russians] try to influence elections in Europe.” (The New York Times, 7/26/2016)

July 26, 2016: A cybersecurity group claims to have new evidence that Guccifer 2.0 is actually a team of Russian hackers.

Guccifer 2.0 is a hacker who claims he broke into the Democratic National Committtee (DNC) computer network and then gave the emails he found to WikiLeaks. He also claims to be an East European with no connection to Russia.

160726ThreatConnectLogopublic

Threat Connect Logo (Credit: public domain)

However, the cybersecurity research group ThreatConnect claims to have new evidence linking Guccifer 2.0 to an Internet server in Russia and to a digital address that has been linked to previous Russian online scams. They conclude that Guccifer 2.0 is actually an “apparition created under a hasty Russian [denial and deception] campaign” to influence political events in the US.

Their report concludes, “Maintaining a ruse of this nature within both the physical and virtual domains requires believable and verifiable events which do not contradict one another. That is not the case here.” For instance, Guccifer 2.0 claims to have broken into the DNC network in the summer of 2015 using a software flaw that didn’t exist until December 2015.

Furthermore, the Guccier 2.0 entity is “a Russia-controlled platform that can act as a censored hacktivist. Moscow determines what Guccifer 2.0 shares and thus can attempt to selectively impact media coverage, and potentially the election, in a way that ultimately benefits their national objectives.” (The Daily Beast, 7/26/2016)

 

July 27, 2016: US intelligence hasn’t found proof that the Russian government is responsible for WikiLeaks getting recently hacked emails.

The Washington Post reports that “Intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an issue under investigation, said there is little doubt that agents of the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee [DNC], and the White House was informed months ago of [Russia’s] culpability.” However, days after WikiLeaks posted almost 20,000 DNC emails, the Post adds, “The intelligence community, the officials said, has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks.”

160727KeithAlexanderAP

Former NSA director Keith Alexander, testifying before Congress in 2013. (Credit: The Associated Press)

One unnamed US official says, “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none.”

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander says, “Determining with confidence who was behind it — if the Russians were the hackers, seeing them pass that data to WikiLeaks — is probably much more difficult than attributing it to the initial hacker. That’s a tough one — especially because there are different ways of passing that information, not all electronic.”

Furthermore, even if Russia is behind the leaks to WikiLeaks, the motivation is unclear. A key question is if Russia is attempting to influence the November 2016 US presidential election. Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the CIA, states, “Frankly, I don’t think they’re motivated by thinking they can affect the election itself.” He thinks the Russians may be flexing their muscles “to demonstrate that they can — not necessarily to make [Donald] Trump win or Hillary [Clinton] lose.”

160727LeoTaddeoTwitter

Leo Taddeo (Credit: Twitter)

Leo Taddeo, a former FBI agent who worked with cybersecurity operations, says, “This is not [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin trying to help Trump. I think they were messaging Hillary Clinton, telling her that they can get in the way of her election if she doesn’t show some flexibility in her position toward them.”

Representative Adam Schiff (D) believes that if Russia is ultimately responsible, the Obama administration “should make it known publicly and forcefully. Even if they’re not able to lay out the evidence because it would disclose sources and methods, they should make the attribution.” (The Washington Post, 7/27/2016)

July 28, 2016: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper shows reluctance to blame Russia for recent hacks on US political entities.

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Credit: public domain)

Clapper says the US government is not “quite ready yet” to “make a public call” about who is responsible for the hacking on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer network that resulted in almost 20,000 emails being released by WikiLeaks. However, he hints that one of “the usual suspects” is likely to blame. He also says, “We don’t know enough [yet] to … ascribe a motivation, regardless of who it may have been.”

Yahoo News reports that there is a vigorous debate inside the Obama administration about whether to publicly blame the Russian government for the hacking. One unnamed senior law enforcement official says the Russians are “most probably” involved, but investigation is ongoing.

Clapper is said to be amongst a faction who is resisting publicly blaming the Russians, since it is the kind of activity that intelligence agencies regularly engage in, including the US at times. Clapper also publicly comments, “[I’m] taken aback a bit by … the hyperventilation over this,” He adds in a sarcastic tone, “I’m shocked somebody did some hacking. That’s never happened before.” (Yahoo News, 7/29/2016)

July 28, 2016: Whistleblower Edward Snowden criticizes WikiLeaks for its willingness to compromise people’s privacy.

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Edward Snowden (Credit: Digital Trends)

He writes on Twitter, “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and WikiLeaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake.” Snowden was an NSA contractor, but he has been hiding in Russia to avoid prosecution after exposing illegal surveillance practices by the US government.

On June 22, 2016, Wikileaks released 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. But they didn’t redact names, social security numbers, credit card information, or other personal data. (Raw Story, 7/28/2016)

Later on July 28, 2016, WikiLeaks replies on Twitter with the comment: “@Snowden Opportunism won’t earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows.”

When Snowden leaked government documents, he gave them to reporters who made some redactions. Whereas WikiLeaks has seemingly made no redactions at all, as Snowden has pointed out. (The Washington Post, 7/28/2016)

August 8, 2016: A Donald Trump confidant claims to be in contact with the head of WikiLeaks and predicts a future release of Clinton Foundation material.

Stone gives a speech to the speech to the Southwest Broward Republican Organization on August 8, 2016. (Credit: Nydia B. Stone)

Stone gives a speech to the Southwest Broward Republican Organization on August 8, 2016. (Credit: Nydia B. Stone)

In a public appearance, Republican strategist Roger Stone is asked to predict what “October surprise” Wikileaks leader Julian Assange may reveal about Clinton that could influence the November 2016 presidential election. WikiLeaks released a batch of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in July 2016 and hinted at more releases to come.

Stone replies, “Well, it could be any number of things. I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

Stone was an official consultant to the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump until August 2015, and has remains a prominent surrogate and confidant for Trump. (Talkingpointsmemo.com, 8/7/2016)

However, Stone’s prediction will be proven wrong when WikiLeaks begins posting thousands of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s private emails on October 7, 2016. But Stone will post a Tweet on August 21, 2016 that may have predicted that.

August 12, 2016: Whoever hacked DNC and other Democrat-related emails in the last year may have also targeted Republicans.

The Daily Beast reports that cybersecurity experts believe the hacker or hackers who stole emails from the DNC (Democratic National Committee) are behind a website known as DCLeaks. The site went public in June 2016 to little media attention. But the site contains emails from hundreds of Republican and Democratic US politicans, including staffers to Republican Senators John McCain and Linsey Graham, plus staffers to former Republican Repesentative Michelle Bachmann.  An unnamed “an individual close to the investigation of the Democratic Party hacks” says the evidence is growing that both parties have been targeted. “Everyone is sweating this right now. This isn’t just limited to Democrats.”

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Senators John McCain (left) and Linsey Graham (right) (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

The cybersecurity company ThreatConnect has been investigating the recent hacks of US political targets, and they call DCLeaks a “Russian-backed influence outlet.” In particular, they have linked it to Fancy Bear (a.k.a. APT 28), a hacking group also accused of hacking the DNC, an believed by many to be working for the Russian government. “DCLeaks’ registration and hosting information aligns with other Fancy Bear activities and known tactics, techniques, and procedures.” They also claim that the hacker or hacking group known as Guccifer 2.0, who claims to be behind the hacking of the DNC emails that WikiLeaks publicly posted in July 2016, is linked to DCLeaks.
The Daily Beast reports that “researchers, at ThreatConnect and elsewhere, also now believe that Guccifer 2.0 was WikiLeaks’ source and that the group is acting as a front for the Russian government.” (The Daily Beast, 8/12/2016)

August 21, 2016: A Tweet predicting trouble for Clinton’s campaign chair will later lead to accusations of collusion between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Roger Stone (Credit: CBS Miami)

Roger Stone (Credit: CBS Miami)

Roger Stone writes on Twitter, “Trust me, it will soon be [John] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” (Twitter, 8/21/2016) Stone is a Republican strategist and confidant of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, while Podesta is Clinton’s campaign chair.

On October 7, 2016, Stone’s Tweet will take on new meaning when WikiLeaks begins posting thousands of Podesta’s private emails.

Several days later, Podesta will cite this Tweet and then claim “it’s a reasonable assumption, or at least a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone had advance warning and the Trump campaign had advance warning” about the WikiLeaks release. (The Washington Post, 10/11/2016)

However, Stone will claim that the Tweet was in reference to a separate story he was working on that would accuse Podesta of possible criminal wrongdoing. But he will also say that he has had “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through a mutual friend. (CBS Miami, 10/12/2016)

August 24, 2016: WikiLeaks plans to release “significant” information linked to Clinton’s presidential campaign before the November 2016 election.

When WikiLeaks head Julian Assange is asked if this information could be a “game-changer” in the election, he replies, “I think it’s significant. You know, it depends on how it catches fire in the public and in the media.”

He also says, “I don’t want to give the game away, but it’s a variety of documents, from different types of institutions that are associated with the election campaign, some quite unexpected angles, some quite interesting, some even entertaining.” (Reuters, 8/24/2016)

September 8, 2016: WikiLeaks could release up to 100,000 pages of new material related to Clinton before the presidential election.

This is according to an interview with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange. “We have tens of thousands, possibly as many as a hundred thousand, pages of documents of different types, related to the operations that Hillary Clinton is associated with.”

Wikileaks Cartoon (Credit: Latmfe / Wikileaks)

This WikiLeaks cartoon has been prominently featured on the WikiLeaks website.  (Credit: Latuff / WikiLeaks)

WikiLeaks released almost 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails just before the July Democratic presidential convention. He says regarding new releases, “There are some, several … in response to the DNC publications, a lot of people have been inspired by the impact, and so they have stepped forward with additional material.”

He adds, “It’s quite a complex business to sort things, to index them, make sure they’re presentable, to see what the top initial angles are that come out. We’re a small shop. We’re here around the clock. We understand quite much the time pressures that people have, and how significant it is to try and get that out. We worked like hell to get the DNC publication out before the DNC, the day before the DNC.”

“I am very confident we’re going to get this material out before, long before, the day of the [November 2016 presidential] election.” (The Washington Examiner, 9/8/2016)

October 4, 2016: WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange promises to release “significant material” over the next ten weeks, with the US presidential election four weeks away.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary

Julian Assange speaks via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of Wikileaks, on October 4, 2016. (Credit: Wikileaks)

Speaking via a video link to mark a decade since the founding of WikiLeaks, Assange says, “We hope to be publishing every week for the next ten weeks. We have on schedule, and it’s a very hard schedule, all the US election-related documents to come out before [the US presidential election on] November 8. … Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the US elections, and myself.”

He also dismisses speculation that releases related to US election would contain information intended to damage the presidential candidacy of Clinton. The idea that “we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don’t like Hillary Clinton, all those are false.”

Assange’s comments are seen as a disappointment by many of WikiLeaks supporters who are hoping for the immediate release of more politically important material. (The New York Times, 10/4/2016) However, just three days later, WikiLeaks begins releasing emails belonging to John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager.

October 7, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes the first batch of emails belonging to Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

John Podesta (Credit: The Associated Press)

WikiLeaks publishes 2,060 emails it claims belong to John Podesta. Podesta is chair of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, as well as being chair of the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), and was once chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, as well as a top advisor to President Obama. WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange says the emails focus on Podesta’s “communications relating to nuclear energy, and media handling over donations to the Clinton Foundation from mining and nuclear interests.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) (The Hill, 10/7/2016)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

Tony Carrk (Credit: CSpan)

However, one email, sent by Clinton’s campaign research director Tony Carrk to Podesta and other Clinton aides on January 25, 2016, contains excerpts from dozens of Clinton’s private speeches, and draws most of the media attention. (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks labels the release as “Part I of the Podesta emails.” The emails date from 2007 to late March 2016. The next day, a WikiLeaks Tweet claims, “We have published 1% of the #PodestaEmails so far. Additional publications will proceed throughout the election period.” (WikiLeaks, 10/8/2016) (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016) Another Tweet claims therre are “well over 50,000” Podesta emails to be released. (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks refuses to say where it got its material from, which is its usual policy. However, earlier in the day, the US intelligence community formally accused the Russian government of being behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, which were publicly posted by WikiLeaks as well.

Clinton’s campaign doesn’t confirm the authenticity of the emails, but doesn’t explicitly deny it either. However, Podesta comments that he is “not happy about being hacked by the Russians,” which indicates the emails are his. (Politico, 10/7/2016) (Politico, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks soon beginss posting more of Podesta’s emails on a daily basis.

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)

October 7, 2016—October 12, 2016: A claim that recently released WikiLeaks emails contain “obvious forgeries” is quickly debunked.

Malcolm Nance (Credit: MSNBC)

Malcolm Nance (Credit: MSNBC)

Politico calls Malcolm Nance a “former US intelligence analyst who has spoken frequently in defense of the Democratic nominee” Hillary Clinton. Within hours of WikiLeaks posting the first 2,000 hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, Nance writes in a tweet: “Warning: #PodestaEmails are already proving to be riddled with obvious forgeries & #blackpropaganda not even professionally.” (Twitter,10/7/2016)

However, no such evidence of any forgeries emerges. Five days later, on October 12, 2016, Nance reverses his claim of “obvious forgeries,” saying, “We have no way of knowing whether [the WikiLeaks emails are] real or not unless Hillary Clinton goes through everything they’ve said and comes out and says it cross-correlates and this is true.”

Politico also notes that cybersecurity experts have examined the Podesta emails released so far, and have found no evidence any of them were faked. (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump claims that Clinton unfairly beat Bernie Sanders in the primaries and calls Clinton “the devil.”

During in the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, Clinton claims that her opponent Donald Trump never apologizes for anything, and then lists several issues he should apologize for, but never has.

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Clinton and Trump spar at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

As part of his response, Trump claims that Clinton fairly lost the primary to Obama in 2008. However, he says this is “unlike the Bernie Sanders race where you won, but not fair and square, in my opinion. And all you have to do is take a look at WikiLeaks and just see what they said about Bernie Sanders and see what [Democratic National Committee chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz had in mind, because Bernie Sanders, between superdelegates and Debra Wasserman Schultz, he never had a chance and I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.” (Politico, 10/10/2016)

October 9, 2016: Trump tells Clinton he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into her use of a private email server, and says he would put her in jail.

Just two days after Wikileaks releases their first batch of hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, there is a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, and it includes a contentious exchange between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while she is secretary of state.

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

Clinton and Trump spar at a presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. (Credit: John Locher / The Associated Press)

He says, “I think the one that you should really be apologizing for and the thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of emails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing. And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”

He continues, “When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where emails… and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails, and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say, very expensive process. So we’re going to get a special prosecutor, and we’re going to look into it, because you know what? People have been… their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Clinton responds, “Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised.”

Trump asks, “Oh really?”

Clinton gives a long response which ends with the comment, “It’s good that somebody with the temperament of Donald Trump is not running this country.”

Trump immediately shoots back: “Because you’d be in jail.”
Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Anderson Cooper (left) and Martha Raddatz are the presidential debate moderators at Washington University in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Washington University)

Martha Raddatz follows up with a question for Clinton, “And Secretary Clinton, I do want to follow-up on e-mails. You’ve said your handling of your e-mails was a mistake, you’ve disagreed with the FBI Director James Comey calling your handling of classified information “extremely careless”. The FBI said there were 110 classified e-mails which were exchanged, eight of which were top secret and it was possible hostile actors did gain access to those e-mails. You don’t call that extremely careless?”

Clinton responds,… “I take classified materials very seriously and always have. When I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material. Obviously, as secretary of state I had some of the most important secrets that we possess, such as going after Bin Laden. So, I am very committed to taking classified information seriously and as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands.”

Trump answers, again with the suggestion that Hillary would be in jail if she were anyone else, … “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.” (The Hill, 10/9/2016) (The New York Times, 10/9/2016)

Trump’s comments draw many reactions. His vice presidential candidate Mike Pence approves. However, many others, including Republicans, react negatively. That includes 23 former Republican Justicee Department officials, who write a letter condemning the comments.

October 9, 2016: Clinton confirms the authenticity of a key email about her private paid speeches.

On January 25, 2016, Clinton’s head researcher Tony Carrk sent an email to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and other Clinton aides that consisted of dozens of pages of potentially politically damaging quotes from Clinton’s private paid speeches. The review included a speech Clinton gave that reflected on the necessity of having “unsavory” political dealings, and said that “you need both a public and private position.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

WikiLeaks released the email on October 7, 2016, as part of a release of thousands of emails from the private email account of Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. The Clinton campaign refuses to confirm the authenticity of any of the WikiLeaks emails.

However, during the second general election presidential debate in St. Louis, on October 9, 2016, Clinton  seemingly confirms the authenticity of this key email in one of her comments.

Martha Raddatz is a moderator at the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz asks Clinton: “This question involves WikiLeaks release of purported excerpts of Secretary Clinton’s paid speeches, which she has refused to release, and one line in particular, in which you, Secretary Clinton, purportedly say you need both a public and private position on certain issues. So… is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance on issues?”

Clinton replies: “Well, right. As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie called ‘Lincoln.’ It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment. It was principled, and it was strategic. And I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working at it. And, yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was a great — I thought a great display of presidential leadership.”

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 7, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

Clinton speaking at the presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016. (Credit: Getty Images)

In essence, Clinton acknowledges her controversial phrase “having a public and private position” in the Carrk email is authentic, by describing in detail what she meant when she said it.

Clinton then further replies to Raddatz’s question: “But, you know, let’s talk about what’s really going on here, Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that, as are other sites where the Russians hack information, we don’t even know if it’s accurate information, and then they put it out. We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election. And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.” (New York Times, 10/10/2016)

October 11, 2016: Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta blames Russia and Trump for the leak of his personal emails.

John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, publicly comments about the fact that WikiLeaks started releasing his personal emails on October 7, 2016.

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta speaks to the press on October 7, 2016 as Clinton’s Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri looks on. (Credit: Reuters)

He blames the Russian government for hacking his Gmail account, though he offers no specific evidence. “I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades, and this definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies, who seem to be doing everything they

can on behalf of our opponent.”

He also says that the FBI communicated with him on October 9, 2016, and told him the breach of his email account has become part of a larger investigation into recent hacks of US political entities, for which the US government generally blames the Russian government.

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Roger Stone (Credit: The Hill)

Podesta claims that it is likely the Russians are trying to help the presidential campaign of Donald Trump (R), due to Trump having policies that are more politically favorable to Russia. He points to a Tweet made by Trump confidant Roger Stone on August 21, 2016, in which Stone wrote that it would soon be “Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Due to this Tweet, Podesta says, “I think it’s a reasonable assumption, or at least a reasonable conclusion, that Mr. Stone had advanced warning and the Trump campaign had advanced warning about what Assange was going to do.” (The Washington Post, 10/11/2016)

The next day, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account posts the Tweet, “As we have already stated clearly: WikiLeaks has had no contact with Roger Stone.” (WikiLeaks, 10/12/2016)

One day after that, Stone claims that his Tweet was in reference to a separate story he was working on that would accuse Podesta of possible criminal wrongdoing. But he also says that he has had “back-channel communications” with WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange through a mutual friend. (CBS Miami, 10/12/2016)

October 12, 2016: The Clinton campaign suggests that some emails released by WikiLeaks could be forgeries, but experts have found no evidence of this.

Tim Kaine appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Tim Kaine appears on CNN’s “State of the Union” on October 9, 2016. (Credit: CNN)

Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing an average of about 2,000 emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta every day. Podesta and the Clinton campaign has admitted his account got hacked, but they have suggested that some of the emails could be forgeries. For instance, on October 9, 2016, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said in a CNN interview, “I don’t think we can dignify documents dumped by WikiLeaks and just assume they are all accurate and true. Anybody who hacks in to get documents is completely capable of manipulating them.”

However, Politico reports, “Clinton’s team hasn’t challenged the accuracy of even the most salacious emails… And numerous digital forensic firms told Politico that they haven’t seen any proof of tampering in the emails they’ve examined — adding that only the hacked Democrats themselves could offer that kind of conclusive evidence.”

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Laura Galante, a director of the cybersecurity company FireEye, says, “It’s very hard to go verify what is true and what’s not. Even the victims of the accounts that are getting exposed are having a hard time.”

Politico also comments, “Experts have warned for months about the possibility that the document leaks may eventually include a sprinkling of falsehoods to stoke their impact, noting that Russian and Soviet intelligence services had long used such techniques against their enemies.” The US government alleges that the Russian government has been behind some recent hacking of US political entities.

A WikiLeaks spokesperson dismisses claims some of the emails are fake. “Standard nonsense pushed by those who have something to hide. WikiLeaks has won a great many awards for its journalistic work and has the best vetting record of any media organization. … In fact, it’s completely legitimate to everyone in the journalism industry that [the emails] are exactly as we say they are, which is why everyone is running with them.”

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

Thomas Rid (Credit: Kings College, London)

However, some experts point out that hackers could have tampered with emails before giving them to WikiLeaks, or they may choose to only selectively hand over emails that promote a certain political agenda.

Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity researcher and professor, says, “Of course it would be more effective for [the Russians] not to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks in any way by altering documents. But if we look at their past behavior, that is certainly something that has been considered and actually done in the past.” (Politico, 10/12/2016)

October 17, 2016: Ecuador cuts the Internet access for the leader of WikiLeaks due to its impact on the US presidential election.

Julian Assange stands on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, on February 5, 2016.  (Credit: Getty Images)

On October 17, 2016, Julian Assange, the leader of WikiLeaks, announces that his Internet access has been cut off. Assange, an Australian citizen, was granted diplomatic asylum in 2012 by Ecuador. He has been living in the Ecuador embassy in London ever since, due to fears that he could be arrested by the US or Sweden.

In late July 2016, WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Since October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks has been publishing emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta on a daily basis, with the US presidential election due to take place on November 8, 2016.

One day later, the government of Ecuador says it had temporarily restricted Assange’s Internet access, due to WikiLeaks releasing documents “impacting on the US election campaign. … The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.” However, Ecuador reaffirms its commitment to giving Assange asylum.

Despite the restriction, WikiLeaks continues to publish new Podesta emails every day, and continues posting Tweets on the official WikiLeaks Twitter feed. WikiLeaks accuses Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring Ecuador into taking action. However, both the US and Ecuador governments deny that. (Politico, 10/18/2016) (Guardian, 10/18/2016)

October 28, 2016: Carl Bernstein says the FBI’s announcement must mean there is a “real bombshell” in the newly discovered evidence.

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Carl Bernstein (Credit: public domain)

Reporter Carl Bernstein, best known for his reporting on the Watergate scandal, comments on the FBI’s surprise announcement that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being reopened. “We don’t know what this means yet except that it’s a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the director of the FBI [James Comey] would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified emails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation.”

He also says, “Right now we’re all talking in a vacuum but I want to add here that in the last, oh, 36, 48 hours, there has been an undercurrent of kind of speculative discussion among some national security people that something might surface in the next few days about emails, and I think the expectation in this chatter — and I took it as just chatter but informed chatter, to some extent — was that it would relate to another round of WikiLeaks emails, which our Justice Department people seem to be saying is not the case, but there has been some noise in the national security community the last day or two of this kind of possibility of some kind of revelation.” (Real Clear Politics, 10/28/2016)

October 30, 2016: WikiLeaks promises a new phase of releases related to the US presidential election.

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

A tweet by Wikileaks introducing Phase 3. (Credit: Wikileaks / Twitter)

Wikileaks announces on Twitter that “We commence phase 3 of our US election coverage next week.” This comes only nine days before the US presidential election.

There are no further details or clues regarding what “phase 3” will be. Presumably, the first phase was the posting of 20,00 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails in July 2016, and the second phase was the posting of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta starting in early October 2016, which is still continuing. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

November 2, 2016: Fox News claims the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation is “a very high priority,” and it is “likely” it could eventually lead to an indictment.

Bret Baier appears on Brit Hume's show to clarify his statement about a possible Clinton indictment. (Credit: Fox News)

Bret Baier appears on Brit Hume’s show to clarify his statement about a possible Clinton indictment. (Credit: Fox News)

Fox News reports that the FBI’s Clinton Foundation has now taken a “very high priority.” This is according to unnamed “separate sources with intimate knowledge of the probe.”

The FBI had already collected a great deal of evidence and interviewed and re-interviewed multiple people. But in recent weeks, emails released on a daily basis by WikiLeaks, plus occasional Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) email releases, have provided many more leads. One source says, “There is an avalanche of new information coming in every day.”

FBI agents are “actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Due to all the new information, agents will be re-interviewing many people again, some for the third time. Agents are also double checking the FBI interview summaries (known as “302’s”) of Clinton and her top aides, to make sure their answers jibe with all the new information.

The FBI’s White Collar Crime Division is handling the investigation. (Fox News, 11/2/2016)

Fox News journalist Bret Baier claims that he spoke to the sources, and they told him that it is “likely” the investigation will eventually result in an indictment or indictments, “barring some obstruction in some way” from the Justice Department. (Real Clear Politics, 11/2/2016)

The next day, Baier modifies his claim about an indictment being likely. “I want to be clear about this, and this came from a Q and A that I did with Brit Hume after my show and after we went through everything. He asked me if, after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins, will this investigation continue, and I said, ‘yes absolutely.’ I pressed the sources again and again what would happen. I got to the end of that and said, ‘they have a lot of evidence that would, likely lead to an indictment.’ But that’s not, that’s inartfully answered. That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don’t move forward with a prosecutor with the [Justice Department], there would be, I’m told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.” (Fox News, 11/3/2016)