From media collusion to evidence of corruption, a guide to the most important leaked Podesta emails.
Since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange began publishing emails hacked from Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account, Americans have been deluged with damaging and embarrassing revelations about the former secretary of state.
Even if the broadcast networks have barely noticed.
“Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC. Most I can probably ID but not all.”
Some of the emails confirm what Clinton’s critics suspected all along. Others depict a campaign staff driven to search for the political angle at every conceivable turn. And still others reveal just how negatively the Clintonistas describe various groups of Americans when they think the rest of the world is not listening.
So quickly have the revelations come — WikiLeaks have been releasing thousands of emails almost daily — that it can be difficult to keep up. So here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of the most important things we’ve learned since the first Podesta email drop on Oct. 7.
1) Damning evidence of Clinton Foundation corruption. Perhaps the most incriminating set of emails to be released over the past week did not even come from WikiLeaks. ABC News used emails that the Republican National Committee obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from Clinton’s tenure of secretary of state to make a strong case that the State Department under her leadership favored Clinton Foundation donors with lucrative contracts to rebuild Haiti after a 2011 earthquake.
“Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC [Bill Clinton],” a senior State Department official wrote to a Clinton Foundation aide.”Most I can probably ID but not all.”
Applicants deemed “WJC VIPs” or FOB (Friends of Bill) got special attention, while those who did not pass that test got referred to the general government website, according to ABC.
State Department emails obtained by Citizens United, meanwhile, show that a taxpayer-funded poll of Haitians included a question assessing Bill Clinton’s favorability.
Another email, published by WikiLeaks, shows the government of Qatar pledged in 2012 to donate $1 million to the foundation despite Hillary Clinton’s promise not to accept new donations from foreign governments after she became secretary of state.
2) Clinton dreamed of “open borders.” A paid speech that Clinton delivered in 2013 to the Brazilian bank Banco Itau included this potentially politically problematic passage: “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”
Despite pressure from Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, Clinton resisted releasing transcripts of speeches she delivered for hundreds of thousands of dollars after leaving government service — and now we know why.
Republican opponents long have used “open borders” as a pejorative to describe Clinton’s immigration proposals. But even her harshest critics likely never imagined she would admit it so unambiguously.
In response to a question following a speech at the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit in October 2013, Clinton complained about a “backward-looking view” of America that was skeptical of immigration and government investment.
“They have to be rejected because they are fundamentally un-American,” she said, according to the transcript provided by WikiLeaks.
3) Hillary takes public and private positions. Courtesy of WikiLeaks, the world now knows that Clinton thinks politicians cannot be transparent with the public.
“You just have to sort of figure out how to — getting back to that word, ‘balance’ — how to balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that’s not just a comment about today,” she told the National Multi-Housing Council on April 23, 2013. “It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”
4) The Clinton camp used journalists — sometimes with willing participation. The WikiLeaks emails show a level of collusion with the mainstream media that even critics of the news business found breathtaking. In a January 2015 memo, campaign spokesman Nick Merrill assured the staff that Politico reporter Maggie Haberman — now with The New York Times — was a friendly journalist.
“We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed,” he wrote.
The might be embarrassing for any reporter’s integrity. But at least there is nothing in the emails from her pointing to favoritism. That is not the case with her current colleague, Mark Leibovich, who gave Clinton veto power over quotes in exchange for access for a long profile that ran in the The New York Times magazine section in summer 2015. Campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri singed off one email with, “Pleasure doing business!”
“We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed.”
CNBC correspondent John Harwood — widely panned for his overly aggressive questioning of Republican Donald Trump during one of the GOP primary debates — offered advice to Podesta.
“Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general [election],” Harwood wrote, including a link to video clips of an interview he did with the retired pediatric neurosurgeon.
And then there is the behavior of Donna Brazile, who last year was a commentator for CNN but seemed to think she was still in her previous role as Democratic Party operative. The emails reveal that she tipped off the Clinton campaign to a question that Hillary would receive at an upcoming town hall event the cable network hosted during the primary season.
Brazile wrote that she was concerned that the question about the death penalty might cause Clinton problems. That revelation was a double-whammy — both raising doubts about the integrity of CNN as a news network and undermining Brazile’s supposed neutrality in the primary fight between Clinton and Sanders.
5) Clinton advisers found loophole to keep emails secret. In a March 2015 conversation with Cheryl Mills, former State Department chief of staff and Clinton campaign aide, Podesta discussed a strategy for withholding emails from the former secretary of state’s private email server.
The idea was to use “executive privilege” to refuse to give the department emails with Obama.
“Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That’s the heart of his exec privilege,” Podesta wrote. “We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I seems like they will.”
Indeed, according to a Politico report in September, the State Department cited the “presidential communications privilege” in indicating that it would not release emails between Clinton and Obama. That allows the president to keep those emails hidden from the public for a period of five to 12 years after Obama leaves office.
6) Hillary allies are nasty in private. And that includes even pro-Clinton pols. Even as they were courting New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s endorsement publicly, they were venting outrage behind his back that he was sending positive tweets about Sanders.
“Wow. What a terrorist,” campaign manager Robby Mook wrote.
Palmieri replied, “Told you!”
In February 2012, left-leaning Voices for Progress founder and President Sandy Newman wrote to Podesta arguing for a “Catholic Spring” to foment an “end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church.”
Podesta assured Newman it was happening.
A scholar at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that Podesta founded, emailed his thoughts on conservative Catholic converts. He called it an “amazing bastardization of the faith.”
Palmieri, then-president of the think tank, agreed. “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
Clinton supporter Mark Siegel — former executive director of the Democratic National Committee — called Sanders supporters “self-righteous ideologues” in an email to the Clinton campaign.
The lecturer-in-chief can’t help but disparage Americans unhappy with his failed tenure
It’s couched in fancy language, and he doesn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but President Obama’s message in a new piece written in The Economist is clear: Trump supporters are a bunch of racists descended from intolerant movements of the past.
In a column titled, arrogantly enough, “The Way Ahead,” Obama asserts the current moment “reflects any number of eras in which Americans were told they could restore past glory if they just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control.” He adds, “We overcame those fears and we will again.”
The president wants to see himself as the Lincolnesque warrior making a stand against neo-racists who would secretly like nothing better than to reinstall Jim Crow.
What a stunning remark, dripping with contempt for the Americans whom he supposedly represents and who, in many cases, are suffering because of his policies.
Let’s start with the beginning of his phrase, in which he says, “Americans were told.” It’s the paternalism of a liberal speaking, and a particularly condescending one. Poor, stupid, gun and Bible-clinging Americans, who believe what they are told to think.
And look what they are receptive to, a message that they’d achieve “glory” if they could enact their racist fantasies by getting “some group or idea that was threatening America under control.”
Obama’s implication is obvious. Trump supporters are responding to the same call once issued by the leaders of the lynch mob, which got people “under control.”
Obama says that everywhere he goes, people — no intellectually advanced souls such as himself in America and overseas — constantly ask him why America “has suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism.” Why, they want to know, “have some on the far left and even more on the far right embraced a crude populism that promises a return to a past that is not possible to restore — and that, for most Americans, never existed at all?”
That is, Trump’s legions dream of the good old days, when swarthy immigrants and African-Americans stayed in their places and white working folk clocked out of the factory and returned home to wives named Betty who served them and their 2.1 children roast chicken and potatoes before everyone gathered around the TV to watch Milton Berle.
Actually, what Americans are hoping for is an economy that grows by more than Obama’s 1.5 percent and some decent-paying jobs, instead of the globalization and welfare state expansion that is driving people out of the workforce, stunting wage growth, creating hopelessness, and helping feed an epidemic of heroin use.
But for Obama, the Trump movement is not about the pocketbook or concerns that, with unlimited immigration, a great culture may be changing too rapidly. For him, it’s about hatred of the unfamiliar.
“Much of this discontent is driven by fears that are not fundamentally economic,” Obama pontificates, proceeding to delineate specific racist movements of which Trump supporters are simply the latest incarnation.
“The anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, and anti-refugee sentiment expressed by some Americans today echoes nativist lurches of the past — the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Know-Nothings of the mid-1800s, the anti-Asian sentiment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” Obama writes.
Comparing Trump’s movement to the Know Nothing Party, a sometimes violently anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant movement that flourished briefly in the 1850s, is contemptible. Invoking late-19th century discrimination against the “yellow peril” of the immigrant Chinese is equally egregious. Obama is saying that Trump’s millions of backers are a bunch of rank bigots.
The president wants to see himself as the Lincolnesque warrior making a stand against neo-racists who would secretly like nothing better than to reinstall Jim Crow and boot everyone with a tanned or darker complexion out of the country.
But the movement behind Trump has legitimate, rational concerns that an immigration spigot that never closes introduces a foreign culture into America too quickly for assimilation to occur, threatening to adulterate — rather than slowly enhance — an American way of doing things that has succeeding brilliantly and made the entire world a better place.
Turning off the spigot is exactly what America did in the early 20th century, after millions immigrated from Central and Eastern Europe. For decades, immigration came to a halt as the country successfully absorbed alien cultures and fashioned them into a new, but not wholly changed, America.
The person who actually has a “crude” understanding of social forces is Obama. Blinded by his instinct to vilify his enemies and consumed by the egotistical self-absorption that makes him need to understand himself as a Great Man fighting the forces of evil, Obama misunderstands the sentiment that has arisen in rebellion against his policies.
Trump’s voters are not “anti-immigrant” or “anti-Mexican.” They are against unlimited immigration, a substantial amount of it illegal.
They are not anti-refugee or anti-Muslim, but are concerned that we are allowing into this country too many people whose world outlook is hostile toward the United States and who may bring terrorists with them.
Americans who support Trump are not driven by hate. They are driven by love, the love of a nation and a culture they see slipping away under a president who doesn’t understand the country’s history and, worse, holds large swaths of it in contempt.
Keith Koffler is the editor of the website White House Dossier and the newsletter Cut to the News.
Pence put on a strong display of how to be prepared, pivot, and punch back
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence won Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate by a landslide, offering a polished, poignant performance some are suggesting Donald Trump could learn from ahead of his second face-off with Hillary Clinton Sunday.
As Pence and Virginia Sen. Time Kaine clashed during the debate in Farmville, Virginia, the well-prepared Pence maintained his cool in the face of Kaine’s incessant interruptions. In deftly dodging Kaine’s darts and refusing to become bogged down by his attacks, the Indiana governor winsomely presented the Trump campaign’s strong vision for implementing change in Washington and restoring greatness to the nation.
“This is exactly what Trump needed,” Ingraham said. “But what could Donald Trump learn from the way Mike Pence handled himself?”
“This is exactly what Trump needed,” LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham said Wednesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” “But what could Donald Trump learn from the way Mike Pence handled himself?”
Ingraham said despite the fact Pence and Trump are “totally different people” with vastly differing styles, the GOP nominee could nevertheless garner some practical insights.
“Donald Trump is not going to be Mike Pence. He’s not gonna be someone who doesn’t react to all attacks,” Ingraham said, noting that Trump cannot afford to “squander precious time” on trivial things that don’t matter.
“I think [Trump] can learn a lot from Mike Pence about the pivot, which is something you have to do in these debate settings. You can’t stay on whatever the moderator wants you to answer. You have to move to your points.”
Byron York, the chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner, told Ingraham the next debate for Trump will be his “last chance” to make up for his rough first performance.
“Remember we were saying that about the first debate, that it was so critical and Trump has this huge opportunity. It is a one-time opportunity. Well, it was kind of a one-time opportunity, but I do think he has another chance,” York said, noting that President Obama made a magnificent comeback in his second debate during his 2012 bid for re-election — after suffering a crushing defeat in the first one to then-GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
“It’s possible he could have another chance. But he has to be better, and to do that, he has to have been working this last week or so on a lot of this traditional stuff,” York said.
York and Ingraham pointed to how Pence spent weeks preparing for the vice presidential debate, participating in mock debates and reviewing Kaine’s old debate footage during his runs for the Senate and for Virginia governor. In stark contrast, Trump eschewed these “traditional” preparation methods.
“[Pence] was 12 years in the House of Representatives in the leadership and he’s been governor of Indiana for three years. He’s been studying and working with policy for years and years. Donald Trump has not, so he can’t just do that,” York said. “But, Trump is Trump, and he has the advantage on issues over Hillary Clinton. And if he performs well, then I think he really does have a chance to get back in it.”
Both Ingraham and York agreed that Trump should decrease the number of rallies he gives just before each of the two remaining events. The GOP nominee participated in a rally the day before the first debate, and he is scheduled to give another one the day before the second debate.
“I mean, I’m not giving him advice, but man — I would just have him stay put, get rested, and just focus on that debate, because I think the debate is really important,” Ingraham said.
York added, “Obviously, I think Trump thinks that it gives him a sort of push of energy, this extra boost, this wind under his wings to do that. But, a debate is not a rally, and this one truly is, I think, his last chance to come out and do well before a massive TV audience.”
If Trump can pull a solid second debate performance, the polls — which have been swinging up and down before meeting the middle in a continuous cycle for months — could stabilize and give Trump the edge he needs to win, York said.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a campaign surrogate for Trump, agreed that Trump’s poll numbers depend on his ability to churn out a solid second debate performance.
“Now I think he can begin an ascent toward Election Day because the issues, as you indicate, reflect the concerns of the American people. Nobody is protecting their interests,” Sessions said. “So I think if we can get this message and this campaign back to those fundamental issues and why Donald Trump’s policies will make America stronger, better and more prosperous, then he’ll be on track to regain the lead that he had twice moving forward.”
In the end, Sessions believes that Trump has always had the edge over Clinton in terms of his campaign message and his willingness to both listen to and champion the concerns of the American people. If Trump can make this clear in the second debate, then he can build on Pence’s boost in momentum and claim victory on Election Day — because Clinton represents “the epitome of the global Establishment special interest camp.”
“This is about the concerns of the American people. They have been ignored. Hillary Clinton calls them ‘irredeemable deplorables.’ I mean, this is the mindset of the mainstream of Establishment power groups from globalists to Washington, D.C. They’re used to running things their way, and they’ve stiffed the American people in their interests,” Sessions concluded. “This is the kind of thing that creates an opportunity for us to elect somebody who’s in tune with where the people are, and I think Donald Trump’s message is there.”