WikiLeaks release offers glimpse of Clinton team's early thoughts on Trump

The website WikiLeaks dropped its third installment of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on Tuesday, providing an inside look into the campaign’s discussions over everything from her private email server to Donald Trump.

The unfiltered look into Podesta’s electronic communications, which now number more than 5,000 exchanges, began last week with a round of emails that included one flagging potentially embarrassing comments Clinton may have made in paid speeches to Wall Street firms before launching her presidential campaign.

The latest release of 1,190 new emails includes one from Clinton confidante Neera Tanden in August of 2015 suggesting the candidate turn her email server over to a third party. That was well after the Justice Department had initiated an investigation.

“Isn’t it going to leak out of the FBI anyway,” Tanden wrote.

Much of the correspondence centers on internal discussions over the campaign’s messaging, from trade and the Keystone XL Pipeline to the Black Lives Matter movement. The emails also provide insight into the Clinton team's early thinking on how to publicly discuss Trump's controversial rhetoric.

For instance, one exchange centered on whether Clinton was underplaying Trump’s comments calling undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists.”

In July of 2015, communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote: “We should be jamming this all the time.” Another email showed how the campaign tried to mitigate public relations damage when Clinton overstated the role of women’s groups in pressuring her to support a 2001 bankruptcy bill.

Others offer insight into how the campaign viewed her political challengers, including one from Tanden, a longtime adviser who worked on Clinton’s 2008 campaign, describing the former secretary of State as “obsessed” with Jeb Bush.

The campaign is not confirming nor denying the authenticity of the messages. Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest batch. The campaign says the Russian government is behind the hack in an effort to influence the U.S. election.

The releases "removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy," Caplin said in a statement last week.

Another email shows how Podesta tried — and failed — to obtain an invitation to a state dinner honoring Canada in March of this year for a lobbyist working for a company advocating for the Keystone XL pipeline, which Podesta is on the record opposing.

Trump took to Twitter to react to the release, calling it "disgraceful behavior," without specifying.

The most potentially problematic release so far remains the initial dispatch, which identified excerpts from Clinton’s paid speeches, including one in which she expressed support for a hemispheric open trade zone and open borders. That’s a position at odds with her campaign platform in which she’s been critical of trade agreements.

Monday's release included a note from current Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile from when she was working as a DNC vice chair. In January of 2016, she forwarded to Clinton officials an email from Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign announcing a "Twitterstorm" from Sanders’ African-American outreach team. “FYI” Brazile wrote in the forwarded message.

“Thank you for the heads up on this Donna,” replied Clinton campaign spokeswoman Adrienne Elrod.


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