A batch of emails released by WikiLeaks includes correspondence between members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign allegedly showing how the team wanted to present the story of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
The team apparently crafted the wording of statements to be made by Clinton about potentially classified information discussed over the private server, and at one point “floated the idea” of making a joke about it at a dinner with a pro-choice PAC.
Below are excerpts from the emails, which purportedly originated from the account of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta:
March 3, 2015: Proposing a joke
Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, proposed making a joke about the email scandal at the Emily’s List dinner. Clinton consultant Mandy Grunwald replied that they “might regret it.”
Palmieri: “I wanted to float idea of HRC making a joke about the email situation at the Emily's List dinner tonight. What do folks think about that?”
Grunwald: “We don't know what's in the emails, so we are nervous about this. Might get a big laugh tonight and regret it when content of emails is disclosed.”
The final transcript of the speech included jokes about her “grandmother’s glow” and the viral dress photo that took the internet by storm last year.
March 7, 2015: ‘Opening a can of worms’
Clinton’s group debated whether or not to deflect blame to prior secretaries of state on the use of a private email server.
Campaign Strategist Robby Mook expressed concern over “opening a major can of worms” mentioning her predecessors.
A draft of the statement included a reference to a conversation between Clinton and Colin Powell about the use of a private server.
Mook: “The one thing in here I feel strongly about is that she NOT include the part about meeting with other former secretaries and that they told her she should do this. I recognize that the boss will have to approve, but if she wants to include that, I'd say we should discuss with her. I worry it opens a major can of worms and deflects the heat in a potentially unhelpful way.”
Grunwald also suggested they cut a portion of a statement in which Clinton was to make a self-deprecating joke about her tech-savviness.
Grunwald: “Our big suggestion is to cut the "bemused" paragraph about HRC's relationship to technology. This seems more appropriate for HRC to say in person than on paper. Additionally, we worry that the word ‘bemused’ will drive ‘this is no laughing matter’ reactions.”
August 22, 2015: Adjusting position on classified information
Press Secretary Brian Fallon apparently expressed concern over whether the campaign should acknowledge the possibility of classified information being discussed on the private server.
“Our position is that no such material exists, else it could be said she mishandled classified info,” he allegedly wrote. The emails also suggest he wanted to avoid the word “serious” so as to not “suggest wrongdoing.”
Fallon: 1. I also dislike the current reference to her 2007 Blackberry. As written, it seems like a strained attempt to make her seem relatable. If the point of it is to say that she was used to having only one email when she was a senator, and simply wanted to continue that arrangement when she became Secretary, then the Blackberry reference would make sense bc it would help explain how she made this decision in the first place. But it needs to be rewritten to be understood that way.
2. This line - "This process of looking backwards to see if something should have been classified at the time is fine" - is problematic. We should not think it is fine to find something that "should have been classified at the time." Our position is that no such material exists, else it could be said she mishandled classified info. We need to clarify to make clear we mean that it is fine to perform redactions today, but in doing so it doesnt mean that the material was classified at the time it was sent.3. In this line - "Some will be serious, some will be personal or mundane" - the word "serious" reads ominously/ suggestive of wrongdoing. I would say something like "some will give a real window into the day-to-day workings of the State Department..."
The validity of the Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks has not been verified. Podesta claimed earlier this week that the hacking of his account is part of a Russian attempt to alter the U.S. election.