WikiLeaks has released over 5,000 emails that belong to Hillary Clinton’s campaign Chairman John Podesta and vowed to release more emails in the coming days. With less than a month before Election Day, the release couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Clinton campaign even though Donald Trump is facing a crisis of his own with the revelation of extremely lewd conversations captured on audio from Access Hollywood in 2005.
The Clinton campaign accused WikiLeaks of being a “propaganda arm of the Russian government,” who is seeking to help Republican nominee Donald Trump. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange rejected these claims and stated that “WikiLeaks has published more than 650,000 documents about Russia and President Putin, most of which is critical.”
We highlighted ten embarrassing leaked emails that the Clinton campaign wishes were never released:
1. Donna Brazile leaked Sanders campaign strategy to the Clinton campaign
Acting Democratic National Committee (DNC) head Donna Brazile told DNC employees not to read the Podesta emails leaked by WikiLeaks on Friday because they were “postmarked from Russia.” She referenced a White House statement as evidence and did not comment on whether or not the emails were legitimate.
A leaked email reveals that Brazile forwarded a message from Sarah Ford, Deputy National Press Secretary for Sanders campaign. The message details a “Twitterstorm” along with the hashtag to be used and suggested tweets. The Twitterstorm was to take place on January 5 and Brazile forwarded the message on January 4 to the Clinton campaign. Adrienne Elrod thanked Brazile “for the heads up on this.”
2. Donna Brazile disclosed a Town Hall question to the Clinton campaign
In another email, Brazile shared the transcript of a question on the Death Penalty to the Clinton campaign a day before the CNN Democratic Town Hall. The email titled “From time to time I get the questions in advance” shows that the question “worries” her.
Clinton’s Director of Communications, Jennifer Palmieri, instructed the director of media planning Betsaida Alcantara to provide Hillary Clinton with an answer. As expected, TV One’s Roland Martin asked Clinton the question the following day.
Donna Brazile issued a response on Monday afternoon to these emails:
For what it's worth, let me tell you what I know: there's plenty of emails from me to both team Clinton & Sanders. And lots of transcripts.
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) October 10, 2016
On Tuesday, Donna Brazile issued a more formal statement, seen in the tweet below:
Donna Brazile statement on Wikileaks emails pic.twitter.com/LqblQt6Kjo
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 11, 2016
In her statement, Brazile continues to say that Russia is behind the hacks, states that she supported all Democratic candidates, and asserts that she “never had access to questions and would never have shared them.”
3. Clinton preselected Tim Kaine as her running mate before the primaries began
The New York Times reported on April 23, 2016 that Hillary Clinton had begun considering running mates. Clinton’s team stated asserted that “[s]he does not have a front-runner in mind.” However, a leaked email dated July 15, 2015 from lobbyist Erick Mullen to John Podesta shows that Clinton had already chosen Tim Kaine for the top ticket a year in advance. Mullen stated that he’ll assure Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) that Hillary Clinton has “personally told Tim Kaine he’s the veep.” Ironically, Sen. Brown was believed to be a finalist in the selection process.
4. Rep. Gabbard received a condescending letter for supporting Bernie Sanders
In an email to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Darnell Strom and Michael Kives wrote that they are “disappointed” in the congresswomen’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders, “a man who has never been a Democrat before.” “You have called both myself and Michael Kives before about helping your campaign raise money, we no longer trust your judgement so will not be raising money for your campaign,” the email concludes.
Darnell Strom previously worked for the Clinton Foundation as a Millennium Network Director and now works for the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) as a Speakers Agent. Michael Kives is also an agent for the CAA and has previously hosted high-profile parties at his Hollywood home.
5. Clinton Campaign pitched a story to the Daily Beast to attack Bernie Sanders
The Daily Beast published an article titled: “Vermont’s Black Leaders: We Were ‘Invisible’ to Bernie Sanders.” The article, according to a leaked email, was pitched by the Clinton campaign to attack his record on issues that matter to African Americans. “This was a part of the Daily Beast story that we worked around aggressively, so I think [the narrative has] been pitched, but they may have other ideas of where to goGwith [sic] this,” wrote campaign staffer Christina Reynolds.
The Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief John Avlon responded to our request for comment and denied any collusion with the Clinton campaign:
The Daily Beast is non-partisan and does not collude with campaigns. While all sources are, of course, confidential, the freelancer who authored the story, David Freedlander rejects the suggestion that the campaign had anything to do with the story’s inception or execution, and this email in no way states otherwise.
The Clinton campaign also tried to pin the 1996 crime bill to Bernie Sanders, by tying his vote on it to the high incarceration rates of African Americans in the state. The controversial bill, which was signed by President Clinton and was supported by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, harmed communities across the nation and disproportionately affected African Americans. She used the term “superpredators” in an infamous speech to explain her support for the bill. Hillary Clinton later apologized for using the debunked term.
6. Clinton Staffers Struggled to Defend Clinton’s Position on DOMA
On October 23, 2015, Clinton appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC where she defended President’s Clinton vote on the controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which she previously supported:
On Defense of Marriage [Act], I think what my husband believed — and there was certainly evidence to support it — is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that. And there wasn’t any rational argument — because I was in on some of those discussions, on both ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would — you know, chime in and talk about, ‘You can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.’ But they were. And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further. It was a defensive action.
The LGBTQ community criticized those comments, calling them a revisionist history. The comments also earned four Pinocchios by The Washington Post and Bernie Sanders criticized them in a speech in Iowa the next day.
The Clinton campaign was under pressure to rectify the situation and analyzed many of her statements over the past 20 or so years to strike the right balance. In the process, director of speechwriting Dan Schwerin suggested that Clinton doesn’t want to say that she was wrong about her defense of DOMA:
I’m not saying double down or ever say it again. I’m just saying that she’s not going to want to say she was wrong about that, given she and her husband believe it and have repeated it many times. Better to reiterate evolution, opposition to DOMA when court considered it, and forward looking stance.
Another viewpoint was to say that Clinton wasn’t wrong, but was expressing one of many views at the time:
What about broadening the perspectives at that time? Acknowledging there were a lot of diff views vs she was wrong. ?
Eventually, they settled on the following statement issued by Brian Fallon:
Whatever the context that led to the passage of DOMA nearly two decades ago, Hillary Clinton believes the law was discriminatory and both she and President Clinton urged that it be overturned. As President, Hillary Clinton will continue to fight to secure full and equal rights for LGBT Americans who, despite all our progress, can still get married on a Saturday and fired on a Monday just because of who they are and who they love.
7. Clinton Campaign wanted to move the Illinois primary to avoid facing a moderate Republican
An email dated November 26, 2014 from Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, to John Podesta talks about a bill to change the primary date in Illinois. “The overall goal is to move the IL primary out of mid March, where they are currently a lifeline to a moderate Republican candidate after the mostly southern Super Tuesday. IL was a key early win for Romney in 12,” Mook wrote. This implies that Clinton’s team preferred not to face a “moderate” Republican in the 2016 presidential election.
Mook’s suggestion was to move the primary to April or May, with a “bonus of 10% extra delegates if they move to April and 20% if they move to May.”
“The key point is that this is not an Obama ask, but a Hillary ask. And the Clintons won’t forget what their friends have done for them,” writes Mook.
In the end, Illinois kept its mid-march primary date.
8. The DNC wanted to elevate “Pied Piper” Republican candidates
Another email released included a document from the Democratic National Committee dated April 7, 2015. The strategy was to elevate “Pied Piper candidates” so that Hillary Clinton would go up against an extreme conservative that would be “unpalatable to a majority of the electorate.” This corroborates the previous email showing that the Clinton campaign attempted to delay the Illinois primary to increase the chances of avoiding facing a moderate Republican nominee.
The candidates, according to the memo, would be lesser known candidates that would “serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right.”
The memo adds, “We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to them seriously.” The DNC named Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson as “Pied Piper” candidates.
9. Union leaders want to punish the NNU for endorsing Sanders
The Clinton campaign was furious about the role of National Nurses United in derailing an early endorsement by the AFL-CIO to Hillary Clinton. Citing Sanders’ strong track record in support of unions, the NNU, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, endorsed the Vermont Senator and had been a vocal and an active supporter of his presidential campaign.
A leaked email sent two days before the Iowa primaries, reveals that Podesta reached out to the president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten to inquire if she spoke with D Taylor, the president of UNITE HERE which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO – most likely to push for an early endorsement. “[Taylor] is psst,” replied Weingarten. “[W]e will go after NNU and there [sic] high and mighty sanctimonious conduct.“
10. Clinton’s team struggled to decide whether to support Glass-Steagall
Speechwriters for the Clinton campaign helped write an op-ed published in The New York Times on how she plans to “rein in Wall Street.” The speechwriters struggled to decide whether to include support for the new Glass-Steagall legislation that was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Mandy Grunwald wrote that she was “still worried that we will antagonize and activate Elizabeth Warren by opposing a new Glass Steagall. I worry about defending the banks in the debate.” Clinton’s plan would not separate “every day” banking from “risky” banking, Grunwald admits.
Grunwald recognizes that Clinton would “face phoniness charges” is she flip-flopped and endorsed breaking up the banks, but was worried that Elizabeth Warren might endorse Bernie Sanders as a result.
Progressive Army will continue to report on new leaks as they are released.