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US Elections 2016

  • 10 revealing, juicy and quirky emails from the Clinton WikiLeaks dump

    For the past two weeks, WikiLeaks has released more than 30,000 emails from advisers involved in the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton. So far, the Clinton campaign has not verified the authenticity of the emails, instead lashing out at Russian hackers with ties to President Vladimir Putin. He has denied any involvement.
    The emails are from the hacked account of Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta, who left the White House in 2015 where he served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. 
    More than anything, the emails provide a fascinating insight into how Washington works. There are requests from friends, journalists and strangers for personal and professional favours.
    There are other emails related to the campaign itself and how to respond to crises, particularly the one that erupted in the spring of 2015 when it was revealed Clinton had used a private server for government business while secretary of state. Other emails reveal personality clashes both within the White House and on the campaign trail. 
    Here are some revealing, juicy and interesting emails from the dump:

    1) Back in March 2015, about a month before Clinton announced her candidacy, the early tension between Podesta and Philippe Reines, a Clinton family confidante and close adviser, was clear. The controversy over Clinton's emails was boiling and since she had not yet announced her candidacy, Podesta could not officially speak for her. But word was getting out among the press that Clinton would address the issue soon. "You got to stop this," Podesta wrote to Reines who later characterised that statement as "unfair". Podesta agreed the two needed to work out boundaries and wrote, "If we are going to be at each other's throats before we start, we are going nowhere". Clinton went public the next day at the United Nations expressing regret for her use of a private server.
    2) In that same email chain about her use of a server, Craig Minassian, chief communications officer with the Clinton Foundation, refers to their "favourite CNN source" feeding them information about newsroom gossip. That source, according to Minassian, was giving them a heads-up about a possible interview with Clinton over the emails. The "source" isn't named in the email. 

    3) One of the most persistent attack lines from Clinton opponents during the campaign involves her family's foundation. Critics argue she ran a "pay-for-play" scheme while secretary of state where foreign governments got exclusive access to her in exchange for a sizeable donation to the Clinton Foundation. In this January, 2015 email, Clinton aide Huma Abedin confirms the king of Morocco offered $12m "for the endowment" as long as Clinton participated in a meeting. It should be noted Clinton was not secretary of state at the time.
    Listening Post: WikiLeaks, political hacks and the US election
    4) It's no secret in Washington that former Vice President Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton did not get along. Even though they served together for eight years in the White House, there were reports of personality clashes and policy disagreements that left a bitter taste by the end. Al Gore endorsed Hillary Clinton in July and attended a rally with her in Miami, Florida this month. But back in November, 2015 Clinton advisers shared a story from People magazine where Gore refused to endorse her. "There is no love lost in this relationship," wrote Abedin.

    5) In a back and forth with Luke Albee from Engage Cuba, Podesta discussed the 11-hour Congressional grilling of Clinton last October by Republican lawmakers on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya on a US diplomatic outpost that left four Americans dead. Clinton was secretary of state during the attack and was widely criticised for failing to prevent it. "Laughing too hard is her authentic weirdness," Podesta wrote of Clinton.  
    6) Long before Clinton named Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate, many potential picks came courting her. But one potential pick was allegedly miffed that she wasn't courting him. According to this email, Podesta complained that staff for Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti were "dicking around with us". The reason? Marlon Marshall, a top Clinton campaign official, wrote in the same chain that Garcetti, "had been bitching that she [Clinton] hadn't called him" about a potential VP nomination.

    7) As the State Department email controversy continued to brew and cause problems for her on the campaign trail, her top advisers debated how to control the message. Neera Tanden, president at the Center for American Progress, wrote to Podesta that Clinton's decision not to do a national interview on the subject was becoming, "a character problem". Tanden advised there "was no downside in her actually just saying, look, I'm sorry". That’s exactly what she did two weeks later.
    8) In this email from March, 2015, the soon-to-be inner circle of the Clinton campaign discusses how to handle the response to a Politico story. "Wonder if we shouldn't parcel out reporters for each of us to call and say the only people they should trust are the people on this call," wrote Clinton pollster Joel Benenson. "Just trying to think if we can slow the key 10-15 key reporters."

    9) In April, 2015, Clinton legal, financial and political advisers debated how to take foreign campaign donations and whether they should take them at all. The issue was, and still is, a dicey one for Clinton following repeated charges that she accepted foreign cash for her foundation in exchange for meetings with foreign leaders while secretary of state. Marc Elias, a Clinton attorney, wrote, "This is really a straight up political call." Others asked how much money the campaign would actually be giving up. Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, wrote to the group, "Take the money!!"
    10) Podesta tweaked conspiracy theorists ears when he tweeted in 2015 that one of his biggest failures was not convincing the White House to declassify a number of UFO files. That prompted excitement among advocates for more openness on extraterrestrial existence. One of them was Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge. He wrote Podesta repeatedly according to WikiLeaks. In this email from January, 2016, it appears Podesta even set up a meeting with him, a possible nod to his commitment to revealing the truth about UFOs if he ever gets back into the White House.
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