WikiLeaks has released the fifth batch of emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, containing 673 messages.
This is the first time the whistleblower website has published two batches of the Podesta emails in the same day, following the release of 1,193 messages earlier on Wednesday.
WikiLeaks claims to have 50,000 messages in total, and has been releasing them since last Friday. The previous releases have revealed the campaign’s cozy relationship with the media, resentment at the primary campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, attack strategies targeting Republican candidate Donald Trump, disparaging comments about Catholics and Southerners, and even talk of space aliens.
Among the emails released on Wednesday afternoon are revelations on how the campaign has crafted Clinton’s message, from speeches and tweets to op-eds, as well as some lighter stuff about international travel.
Long speeches and ‘spontaneous’ tweets
The March 7, 2015 email from Podesta to Clinton aide Cheryl Mills contains a draft of Clinton’s first official statement about using a private email server, drafted by Philippe Reines. Clinton delivered the explanation about the “simplicity of using one device” three days later, on March 10.
One email chain deals with the need to keep Clinton’s speeches short. When Dan Schwerin sends along a 515-word draft for a speech for Iowa, in January 2016, Clinton aide Huma Abedin replies with, “you know i love you people very much and you are the smartest minds in america but this is LONG. this will be impossible to nail without a podium.”
Podesta responds with, “How did we get from 45 seconds to this?”
On March 9, 2016, Podesta’s assistant Milia Fisher sent out for approval a list of tweets to accompany the upcoming Univision debate between Clinton and Sanders, ending with, “As always, call me if you’d like to add any spontaneity to the mix!”
Aiming for both Sanders and Trump
The op-ed on gun control, solicited by the New York Daily News, took several days and multiple edits to hammer out, according to the email chain starting on March 15, 2016
“Should we directly hit Sanders in this NYDN oped right now? I’m a bit skeptical,” Podesta wrote at one point.
“My theory is that we do not want to be in a one on one with Trump – but want to hit him occasionally,” communications director Jennifer Palmieri responded. “In which case, we also need to be hitting Sanders occasionally so we can credibly say we are not only focused on the general.”
“I think we should do the oped [because] NYDN really cares about it and they offered us the space. So good politics on a few fronts,” Palmieri concludes at the end of the chain.
Sanders and the teachers’ union
Campaign manager Robbie Mook sent an email on July 11, 2015, quipping that Sanders is “in for a very frustrating fall” after the American Federation of Teachers endorsed Clinton. An email chain earlier in the day showed the Clinton campaign getting live updates from the AFT meeting that discussed the endorsement, which was seen as a done deal.
“I understand there will be some debate and will not be unanimous but we are on track,” wrote Nikki Budzinski, the campaign’s labor outreach coordinator.
‘Hosing down’ supporters on DOMA
In October 2015, when questions arose about Bill Clinton signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, the campaign scrambled to put forth a statement how the country has since “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage.
“I have no understanding of the issue – but clear this has a head of steam,” wrote Palmieri, adding, “we need a plan for how to hose down anxious friends.”
The Taiwan junket
In August 2015, Podesta urged Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to take a “free trip to Taiwan with [Tom] Daschle”, referring to former US Senator from South Dakota who worked as a Washington lobbyist.
When Sullivan replied “I think we’re okay!” Podesta shot back, “Don’t be such a scrooge. One of your kids might like a free trip.”
The Democrats have not challenged the authenticity of the emails, choosing instead to claim the existence of a nefarious Russian plot. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon called WikiLeaks “a propaganda arm of the Russian government, running interference for their pet candidate, Trump.”
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