The following is a timeline of events that is based on one first devised by author Thomas Del Baccaro , which will be continually updated and modified by Spero News.
2015: Hillary Clinton, while serving as then-President Barack Obama's secretary of state, chose to use a private email account and server for official, classified communications, including while traveling overseas. In 2015, the FBI and Department of Justice realize that Obama was contacting Hillary through her non-official email account. At the time, Obama used an email account and a pseudonym to mask his own identity. Some observers contend that the practice was illegal, and that it was known to government authorities for several years.
Because the communications could have implicated then-president Obama, critics say that the FBI and DOJ forestalled any effective investigation.
June 2015. Businessman Donald Trump announces his intention to campaign for the presidency.
2016. In March, Trump wins enough Republican delegates to win the GOP presidential nomination.
March 4, 2016. The New York Times reports on Hillary’s private email server. Three days later, Obama tells CBS News that he had learned about Clinton’s emails “the same time everyone else learned it through news reports.” Senior staffers at the Clinton campaign know that this is not true. Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s chief of staff at the State Department, emails campaign chairman John Podesta: “We need to clear this up – he has emails from her – they do not say state.gov.” This means that Hillary was sending emails to Obama that were not from an official State Department server.
Obama then seals his email communications with Clinton, citing presidential privilege. Subsequently, White House staff changes Obama’s original statement that he had known nothing of the Clinton’s private email to mean that he had known nothing of her private server, even though he knew she occasionally used private emails. However, the point critics made is not which private server she was using but that she was not using the State Department server, which is designed to provide maximum security against hacking.
April 10, 2016. Then-president Barack Obama tells Fox News’ Chris Wallace: “I do not talk to the Attorney General about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations.” Obama said in the interview, “I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case.” "I guarantee it. I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, not just in this case but in any case. Full stop. Period,' he said."
Obama also said that Hillary had no intention of putting national security into jeopardy. When he made that statement, neither Hillary nor many other witnesses had been interviewed by the FBI concerning her use of private non-secure communications. In the case of the alleged crime she committed, her intention was not relevant as to whether or not her actions should be prosecuted as crimes.
The Hillary campaign and Democratic National Committee begin funding research by the Fusion GPS opposition research firm which engages ex-British spy Christopher Steele to produce an uncorroborated dossier about Donald Trump. To conceal payments for the dossier, the campaign provides funds to a law firm that in turn pays for the dossier, which is a possible violation of campaign law. If the payment by the campaign had been properly disclosed, the dossier would probably have been also disclosed in the summer of 2016 and thus hampered Hillary’s campaign and precluded its use by the Obama administration to use it to later obtain a warrant from a secret federal court to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, which then led to other surveillance and ultimately to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
May 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) bows out of the presidential race, thus confirming Trump as the Republican nominee.
FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page seek to end the investigation into Hillary and her email use. FBI Agent Strzok heads the Hillary investigation, which bears the moniker Mid-Year Exam (MYE). At the time, Strzok and Page are having an affair. Page and Strzok have conducted frequent text messages. When Page texts Strzok that Cruz dropped out, Strzok replies: “What?!?!?!?!” and later states: “Now the pressure really starts to finish the MYE.”
Long before interviewing Hillary and other witnesses, then-FBI Director James Comey begins writing a memo about the forthcoming conclusion of the Hillary probe. The original memo stated: "There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information." The finding of “grossly negligent” handling of secret information would be enough to charge Hillary with a federal crime.
May 2016. State Department officials Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, both of whom were Hillary’s aides, allegedly mislead the FBI about Hillary’s email habits. Even though they knew about Hillary’s email practices long before the timeframe they provided to the FBI, they are not charged with lying to the FBI. “Making false statements” is the common name for the United States federal crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which prohibits knowingly and willfully making false or fraudulent statements, or concealing information, in "any matter within the jurisdiction" of the federal government. Among the persons who have been convicted under this law are: former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, and financier Bernard Madoff.
Mills and four other persons associated with Hillary are granted immunity. As part of the immunity agreement, the FBI destroys evidence in the middle of an investigation.
June 20, 2016. FBI Agent Peter Strzok changes the “grossly negligent” language in FBI Director Comey’s memo to “extremely careless,” thus all but ensuring that Hillary will not be indicted.
June 27, 2016. Former president Bill Clinton meets Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the Phoenix airport tarmac. After claiming that they had conversed about their respective families, information leaked from the meeting. While the FBI sought to find out who leaked the information, there was no equally serious effort to expose what Clinton and Lynch were talking about despite the fact that Clinton had named her U.S. Attorney for Eastern New York in 1999 and that the FBI was investigating Hillary at the time.
June 30, 2016. A draft of FBI Director Comey’s memo read: “[Clinton] also used her personal email extensively while outside of the United States, including from the territory of sophisticated adversaries. That use included an email exchange with the president while Secretary Clinton was on the territory of such an adversary.” That same day, a revised draft removed the reference to Obama and replaced it with a reference to “a senior government official.” By July 5, however, that reference was also dropped. The identity of the “senior government official” in could not have remained hidden in the face of inquiries by Congress and the media. The final statement by Comey on July 5 omitted any mention of those with whom Clinton was in contact.
July 1, 2016. Attorney General Lynch accepts the FBI Director Comey’s “determination and findings” about the Hillary investigation. Page then sarcastically texts to Strzok that: “It’s a real profile in courage, since she knows no charges will be brought.”
July 2, 2016. Hillary interviewed by the FBI, but not under oath and therefore no transcript and thus impossible to charge her with lying to the FBI. Hillary is allowed to have aides Cheryl Mills (a witness to the email crimes) and Heather Samuelson present during the interview as attorneys. Mills had been granted immunity by then.
July 5, 2016. Comey goes on TV, lays out case against Hillary, but claims that since he found no intent that there should be no prosecution. Comey clarified that while Hillary may have dodged federal law, he applies Obama’s “intent” standard and states no prosecutor would indict her. However, it is not within the purview of an FBI Director to decide who is prosecuted. Comey was careful to say he had not informed Attorney-General Lynch of what he was going to say.
Summer of 2016. Then-FBI official Andrew McCabe is aware of more of Clinton’s emails but delays a review. Hillary’s emails are recovered from former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Weiner is the husband of Huma Abedin, Hillary’s aide. This prompts observations that having classified emails on his laptop is a violation of federal law. Hillary, Abedin, and Weiner are never prosecuted for the violation.
McCabe, whose wife was running for political office in Virginia as a Democrat and received support from Terry McAuliffe - a Clinton ally -- delays review of the new discovered emails into later months.
A volunteer aide to the Trump campaign, Carter Page travels to Moscow where he has long had ties. He had been under FBI surveillance, which can only be based on an allegation that Carter was an agent for a foreign government. While the Trump campaign is aware of his trip to Russia, it had not known of the FBI surveillance.
As the presidential year goes into the final stretch, the government’s attention shifts from the ostensibly exonerated Hillary to Donald Trump’s campaign and purported ties to Russia. A first attempt by Comey to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to conduct surveillance on Carter Page is denied.
FBI begins a counter-intelligence investigation into George Papadopoulos -- a volunteer to the Trump campaign -- that Russia has information about Hillary. No connection is found between Papadopoulos and Page. Given Hillary’s use of a private non-secure email server, fears are aired that Russia may indeed have compromising information about her and the State Department.
August 2016. In an August 11, 2016, text to Page, Strzok emphasized the seriousness with which he viewed the allegations against the Trump organization. “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS,” he texted. A few days later, after a meeting he and Page conducted with FBI official Andrew McCabe, Strzok texted Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office [Andrew McCabe is the FBI deputy director and married to a Democratic Virginia State Senate candidate] for that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40 …” Republicans have singled out this text as troubling evidence of efforts to thwart Trump, given that previous exchanges between Page and Strzok had dubbed Trump an “idiot” and “loathsome human,” et al.
September 2016. Page and Strzok were preparing talking points for then-FBI Director Comey. On September 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok, writing that she was preparing the material because "potus wants to know everything we’re doing." Potus is an acronym for president of the United States.
On Sept. 28, 2016, Strzok wrote to Page, "Got called up to Andy's [McCabe] earlier.. hundreds of thousands of emails turned over by Weiner's atty to sdny [Southern District of New York], includes a ton of material from spouse [Huma Abedin]. Sending team up tomorrow to review... this will never end."
According to a recent Senate report, this text raises questions about when FBI officials may have learned about emails relevant to the Hillary email investigation on the laptop belonging to Weiner, the husband of Hillary aide Huma Abedin.
Nellie Ohr, the wife of DOJ official Bruce Ohr, is hired by Fusion GPS -- the opposition research firm that was hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign -- that served as a conduit to between the Hillary Campaign and dossier author ex-British spy Christopher Steele. The FBI was aware of the connection between Fusion GPS and the Democrats. Ohr later funnels information from his wife to the FBI. The Steele dossier contains allegations about Trump that former FBI Director Comey would later dub “salacious and unverified.”
October 2016: On October 28, 2016, Comey said in a letter to Congress that the FBI was reviewing new emails related to Clinton's tenure as secretary of State, thus throwing the election into turmoil. .
A second Comey FISA request incorporating the Steele dossier is presented to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. FBI official Andrew McCabe later clarifies that without the dossier, there would have been no FISA warrant.
Seeking to bolster the credibility of the Steele dossier, Comey cited a Yahoo! News story. There are allegations that Comey knew that the story was planted by Steele and thus was not an independent verification of the dossier.
Steele tells DOJ official Bruce Ohr that he is "desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president." The FBI contemplates paying Steele for more research but rescinded the offer after Steele had briefed reporters about the dossier and thus broke FBI rules.
Comey announces that the FBI was reopening the Hillary email review. However, before the election, he clears Hillary again.
On November 6, 2016, Comey tells Congress that a review of those newly discovered Hillary emails had not altered the FBI's view that she should not face criminal charges.
Trump wins the presidential election. Hillary’s campaign blames Russian interference, thus engendering a narrative that endures for more than a year. FBI lawyer Page wrote on Election Day, "OMG THIS IS F***ING TERRIFYING" to Strzok. He replied, "Omg, I am so depressed.”
On November 13, 2016, Page wrote, "I bought All the President's Men. Figure I need to brush up on Watergate." On the next day, she wrote: “God, being here makes me angry. Lots of high fallutin’ national security talk. Meanwhile we have OUR task ahead of us.” While Page’s intention may be unclear here, when coupled with Strzok’s August 15 text about an “insurance policy,” a February 2018 Senate report suggested that further investigation is warranted to find out what actions the two may have taken.
December 2016. The Obama Administration seeks to change the rules on sharing intelligence about Americans, which previously stipulated that the names of Americans would be masked in intelligence documents based on surveillance conducted on foreigners. When the Obama administration eased the sharing of the actual names, some of those name may have been those of Trump’s transition team. Reportedly alerted by an intelligence official, Trump moves his transition headquarters from Trump Tower to his golf club in New Jersey.
The FBI and the DOJ reapplied three times for renewing a FISA warrant but never told the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Court of any previous omissions and/or misrepresentations. Currently serving in the Trump administration is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was one of the officials who made a FISA warrant reapplication. He also supervises the probe into supposed Russian meddling in the 2016 election undertaken by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
2017. In July, FBI Attorney Lisa Page leaves special counsel Mueller's team before any of the text messages are revealed. Strzok departs two weeks later after the derogatory messages came to light and was demoted to the human resources department of the FBI. In December 2017, the New York Times reports that Strzok, who had been the top FBI representative assigned to the Mueller probe, was removed from the team because of the texts. A report by the Wall Street Journal reported that the Strzok-Page texts attacked not only Trump but also other politicians on both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Chelsea Clinton, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
In April, the House Ethics Committee announces that is investigating whether Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, had "made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.” Nunes blames the “several left-wing activist groups,” and calls the charges “entirely false and politically motivated.” Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) would temporarily take charge of the committee’s Russia investigation.
House Speaker Ryan issues a statement: “Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe. He continues to have that trust.” Ryan says he “fully supports” Nunes' decision to temporarily step aside.
In December, the House Ethics Committee releases an analysis of Rep. Devin Nunes’ public statements about the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee were reviewed “by classification experts in the intelligence community” and concluded that information he disclosed was not classified. “The Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed.” Nunes says that charges that he
Nunes repeats that the charges were “frivolous” and says he was “dismayed that it took an unbelievable eight months” to resolve. He asks the Ethics Committee to release all transcripts related to his case.
Dec. 19, 2017: Then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the House Intelligence Committee. No transcript is released.
Dec. 28, 2017: Nunes writes a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein condemning the Deparment of Justice and the FBI for its “failure to fully provide responsive documents and provide the requested witnesses” in response to the August subpoena Nunes had submitted. He demands interviews with six FBI officials, and details “concerning an apparent April 2017 meeting with the media involving DOJ/FBI personnel, including DOJ Attorney Andrew Weissman. Nunes writes that the “delays and discrepancies” and the “intransigence” of the agencies “can no longer be tolerated. … At this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.” He sets Jan. 3 as a deadline. Meanwhile, Nunes is preparing a classified memo that summarizes findings by members of his staff about the Page/Strzok texts.
2018. Jan. 3: Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray meet with Speaker Ryan about Nunes’ request for interviews. Nunes releases a statement saying that he spoke with Rosenstein, and believed that an agreement had been reached to provide “access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested.” Nunes' spokesman says the conversation with Rosenstein was by telephone.
Jan. 11: The House of Representatives passes reauthorization of the FISA program, which had allowed the Obama administration to snoop on Carter Page. Nunes says in a statement that the legislation “provides new, rigorous measures to protect Americans’ privacy and to ensure the program is used properly to target foreign terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other threats to Americans’ safety and security.”
Jan. 16: The FBI provides 384 pages of new text messages involving FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok to the House Intelligence Committee and other House committees.
Trump called the texts evidence of “treason” in a Wall Street Journal interview. Later, on Twitter, he called the texts "one of the biggest stories in a long time." Then DOJ announces that a technical issue prevented the collection of text messages between Page and Strzok and others at the FBI who were using FBI-issued Samsung 5 cellphones between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.
A mention of a "secret society" in a text between Strzok and Page leads some Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, to take issue with the comment. He said, "I've heard from an individual that ... there was a group of managers within the FBI that were holding meetings off site." Attorney General Jeff Sessions orders a probe of the texts, vowing that he and the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz will “leave no stone unturned.” Then, on January 25, DOJ reportedly informs members of Congress that the missing text messages have been recovered.
Jan. 29: The House Intelligence Committee votes to provide Nunes' memo to the White House. It rejects motions to release a second memo written by Democrats at the same time.
Jan. 30: Ryan says, “There's a very legitimate issue here as to whether or not an American's civil liberties were violated in the FISA process.” Ryan says he sees “no reason” why Deputy AG Rosenstein should be fired but adds: “I think the people at the FBI, at the DOJ need to cleanse their own house if there are problems in their own house.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, invites House members to look at the Democrats' classified memo written by his staff.
February 2018. Feb. 2: After Trump declassifies the Republican memo, the House Intelligence Committee releases it to the public.
Feb. 5. The House Intelligence Committee votes to release the Democrats' classified memo, which reportedly rebuts the Republicans' memo. .
Feb. 6. The White House reviews the Democrats memo. Reacting to it was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Bloomberg News reported that he said of the Democrats' document, “This is not as clean a memo as the first one.” Kelly said “Where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is a lot less clean,” adding that it is also “more lengthy.
According to a document released by Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham in February 2018: “On March 17, 2017, the Chairman and Ranking Member were provided copies of the two relevant FISA applications, which requested authority to conduct surveillance on Carter Page. Both relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims, and both applications were granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). In December of 2017, the Chairman, Ranking Member and Subcommittee Chairman Graham were allowed to review a total of four FISA applications relying on the dossier to seek surveillance of Mr. Carter Page, as well as numerous other documents relating to Mr. Steele.” Carter Page eventually left the Trump campaign. In September 2018, Carter Page filed a 400-page defamation lawsuit against Yahoo! News and the Huffington Post. Page admitted in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he worked as an informal adviser to the Kremlin.
Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017