According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, an investigation of emails released as part of a lawsuit conveyed by Judicial Watch shows that Huma Abedin, the top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, forwarded sensitive State Department emails. Before every single Yahoo account got hacked, she even had forwarded to her personal insecure Yahoo account passwords to government systems.
This assurances that an account with high-level correspondence in Clinton’s State Department was obstructed by one or more of a series of security breaches and at least one of which was committed by a “state-sponsored actor.”
When Abedin was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, she consistently forwarded work emails to her personal email@example.com address. An FBI report states, “She would use these accounts if her (State) account was down or if she needed to print an email or document. Abedin further explained that it was difficult to print from the DoS system so she routinely forwarded emails to her non-DoS accounts so she could more easily print.”
An email released by the State Department in September 2017 shows that Abedin sent passwords from her government laptop to her Yahoo account on August 24, 2009.
In 2009, a long-time Clinton confidante Sid Blumenthal sent Clinton an email with the subject line: “Important. Not for circulation. You only. Sid.” The message began “CONFIDENTIAL… Re: Moscow Summit.” Abedin forwarded the email to her Yahoo address, theoretically making it noticeable to hackers.
The email was considered too sensitive to be released to the public and was redacted before being published according to the Judicial Watch lawsuit. The released copy states, “Classified by DAS/ A/GIS, DoS on 10/30/2015 Class: Confidential.” The unredacted portion reads: “I have heard authoritatively from Bill Drozdiak, who is in Berlin…. We should expect that the Germans and Russians will now cut their own separate deals on energy, regional security, etc.”
Abedin’s three email accounts that she used were firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Even though the emails released by the State Department partially redact her personal email addresses, the Yahoo emails are displayed as humamabedin[redacted].
In March 2009, Clinton forwarded Abedin an email titled “Ambassadors” from Denis McDonough, who served as foreign policy adviser to former President Barack Obama’s campaign and also White House chief of staff. Before being released to the public, the email was profoundly redacted.
In May 2009, Chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, Stuart Delery, emailed a draft memo titled “PA/PLO Memo,” seemingly referring to two Palestinian groups. The content was withheld from the public with large letters spelling “Page Denied.” Abedin also forwarded it to her Yahoo account.
According to messages released under the lawsuit, Abedin transmitted sensitive material through Yahoo multiple times, for example, notes on a call with the U.N. secretary-general.
Contemporaneous news reports acknowledged the security flaws of Yahoo even though Abedin used it nonstop. A July 2012 CNN article reported that the credentials to 450,000 Yahoo accounts were posted online. Abedin forwarded sensitive material to her own Yahoo email account five days later.
On August 16, 2010, an FBI report stated that Abedin did not remember the email that she had received “with the subject ‘Re: your yahoo acct.’ and provided that despite the content of the email she was not sure that her email account had ever been compromised.”
The FBI also asked her about forwarding other sensitive data to Yahoo. “Abedin was shown an email dated October 4, 2009, with the subject ‘Fwd: US interest in Pak Paper 10-04’ which Abedin received from [redacted] and then forwarded to her Yahoo email account…. At the time of the email, [redacted] worked for Richard Holbrooke who was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). Abedin was unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of materials that she received,” the FBI report said.
In March 2017, the U.S. charged Russian intelligence agent Igor Sushchin with hacking half a billion Yahoo accounts which were one of the biggest cyber-breaches in history according to the Associated Press In 2014; his original hack transpired in which it permitted his comrades to access accounts into 2015 and 2016 by using forged cookies. Sushchin was an intelligence agent with Russia’s Federal Security Service (the replacement to the KGB) and was also working as security director for Renaissance Capital, according to the Russian media. The indictment reports, “It is unknown to the grand jury whether [Renaissance] knew of his FSB affiliation.”
In 2010, the Renaissance Capital paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech that was attended by Russian officials and corporate leaders. From Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Clinton a thank-you note for his speech. Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov owns renaissance Capital. He also owned the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. In 2012, Prokhorov lost to Putin in the election for the Russian presidency.
Per Sushchin’s indictment, “the conspirators sought access to the Yahoo, Inc. email accounts of Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials,” and others. It also states that the Information about the accounts such as usernames and password challenge questions and answers were stolen from 500 million accounts. Abedin’s account was not mentioned in the indictment.
A hacker called “Peace” declared to be selling information from 200 million Yahoo users. The user data also incorporated people’s alternate email addresses by connecting a Yahoo user to an organization of interest. The hackers were skilled enough to create “nonces” that permitted them to read emails “via external cookie minting” for several accounts.
The 2013 hack according to the New York Times, which involved all Yahoo accounts, “Digital thieves made off with names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users that were encrypted with security that was easy to crack. The intruders also obtained the security questions, and backup email addressed used to reset lost passwords — valuable information for someone trying to break into other accounts owned by the same user, and particularly useful to a hacker seeking to break into government computers around the world.”
On September 22, 2016, Yahoo issued a statement, stating that “Yahoo has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.”
By conveying that it was merely a matter of convenience, Hillary Clinton days later downplayed the dangers of her email use.
At the second presidential debate on October 9, 2016, Clinton stated, “After a year-long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and there is no evidence that anyone can point to at all, anyone who says otherwise has no basis, that any classified materials ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have.”
“We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private email accounts of individuals with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her private account,” in 2016 then-FBI director Jim Comey said. Due to Abedin’s use of her personal Yahoo account, is consistent with the determination by the FBI that the staff for Clinton emails was compromised.