Planned Attacks on Sanders Included in WikiLeaks' Third Batch of Podesta Emails
Emails include list of "hits" on Bernie Sanders and attempts to spin media coverage in Hillary Clinton's favor
By: Nika Knight
WikiLeaks released the third installment of its cache of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta's hacked emails early Tuesday, revealing the inner workings of the Clinton camp's efforts to spin news items and influence reporting; their strategies to take down the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); and the often cozy relationship between Podesta and corporate lobbyists.
For instance, one email featured Gordon Giffin, a lobbyist for TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, asking Podesta personally to secure a seat for him at the White House state dinner with Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Giffin is a [so-called] 'Hillblazer' who has contributed or raised at least $100,000 for Clinton and her joint funds with the Democratic Party," Politico observed.
Another exchange shows top aides struggling to spin contentious moments, including a statement Clinton made last February about her vote for a 2001 bankruptcy bill that favored credit card companies. Clinton said she was pressured to vote for the legislation by women's groups.
"She said women groups [sic] were all pressuring her to vote for it. Evidence does not support that statement," Clinton campaign senior policy adviser Ann O'Leary wrote.
The emails reveal prominent Clinton supporters outside of the campaign were frightened by the unexpected success of Sanders' campaign and often provided advice on how to defeat him. (Photo: ABC/flickr/cc)
Other notable exchanges reveal the Clinton campaign's attack lines on Sanders' presidential run: one shows Clinton aides soliciting an op-ed from current transition team head (and former Interior Secretary) Ken Salazar that slams Sanders' record on immigration, which Salazar readily provided.
Another, titled "Sanders hits," features a list of points of attack against the Vermont senator. It includes such items as Sanders' record on gay marriage and gun rights, which became popular lines of attack from the Clinton camp during the close Democratic primary contest.
And many emails involving journalists, such as one from Patrick Healy of the New York Times, often reveal the campaign's forthright efforts to manipulate media coverage of Clinton—a tactic that prior email dumps have also shown, as The Intercept reported.
Occasionally, the exchanges also reveal Clinton aides expressing views that oppose the candidate's own: one email from Podesta shows him urging another Clinton staffer to "drop the gmo's [sic]" when the aide tells Podesta she is suffering from a bad migraine. Clinton supports GMO crops and the biotech industry.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks and others continued to sift through the thousands of emails previously published by the group and highlight particularly notable ones:
The emails also reveal prominent Clinton supporters outside of the campaign were frightened by the unexpected success of Sanders' campaign and often offered unsolicited advice on how to better appeal to voters. "A good amount of exposure of Hillary holding, feeding and playing with her adorable grandchild would greatly help the public understand her," wrote longtime Clinton ally Andy Manatos last fall.
And other missives illustrate that the Clinton campaign was at times pressured to adopt more progressive views. For example, The Hill columnist Brent Budowsky argued to Podesta in March that Clinton should attempt to dovetail with Sanders' policy recommendations, rather than attack the progressive senator, if Clinton hoped to win Sanders' supporters' votes in the future. Budowsky wrote:
[...] Hillary should stop attacking Bernie, especially when she says things that are untrue, which candidly she often does. I am one of the people with credibility to suggest Bernie people support her in November, and she and [chief campaign strategist Joel] Benenson and others have no idea of the damage she does to herself with these attacks, which she does not gain by making. Instead the smart move would be to look for issues where she can dovetail with Bernie. One I am definitely going to suggest would be to take his proposal for a free public college education paid for by a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation and add one new dimension....that to receive this benefit young people should devote one year to some form of community or public service.... There is no reason Hillary cannot not support this.... Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump....she has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify.....even a clown like Ted Cruz would be an even money bet to beat and this scares the hell of out me.....
In response to the WikiLeaks trove, Clinton surrogates and supporters have said that the leaks were orchestrated by Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, despite no evidence to support that claim. "It is absolutely disgraceful that the Trump campaign is cheering on a release today engineered by Vladimir Putin to interfere in this election," Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin said Monday in a statement.
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