In the past 24 hours, news media has been in a frenzy sparked by a New York Times story published Thursday night suggesting that current 2016 Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was the subject of a “criminal probe” over her use of personal email while serving as secretary of state. As the hours ticked by, the story changed, was decried, and eventually corrected. Here’s a timeline of how it all went down.
Last night: The New York Times publishes an article titled “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email.”
Later that evening: The Times slightly (but importantly) changes its headline and story: “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account.”
3:11 a.m. ET: Statement from Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responding to The New York Times report: “Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, [Clinton] followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials. As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.”
10:07 a.m. ET: Statement from Rep. Elijah Cummings knocking down that the referral is a criminal investigation:
I spoke personally to the State Department Inspector General on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email usage. Instead, he told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the FOIA review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified.
12:09 p.m. ET: The Justice Department official releases a statement explaining that the referral is not criminal in nature. “The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a CRIMINAL referral.”
12:59 p.m. ET: The Wall Street Journal publishes an article entitled, “Hillary Clinton Sent Classified Information Over Email While at State Department, Review Finds.”
An important note from that Inspector General review: Cummings’ team posted the Inspector General’s summary online with the detail that the classified emails were not marked classified: “We note that none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network.”
1:47 p.m. ET: Hillary Clinton comments on the story: “It’s because there have been a lot of inaccuracies as congressman Cummings made clear this morning, maybe the heat is getting to everybody. We all have a responsibility to get this right. I have released 55,000 pages of emails. I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions before the house committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right and I will do my part, but I’m also going to stay focused on the issues, particularly the big issues that really matter to American families.”
2:07 p.m. ET: The New York Times issues this correction to its story:
Msnbc’s Joy Y. Wang contributed to this article.