What We Learned From the Purported John Podesta Emails From WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks is unveiling batches of what is says are Clinton campaign emails.
— -- The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has dumped thousands of emails this week that it claims came directly from the inbox of Hillary Clinton’s campaign Chairman John Podesta. So far, the Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the emails.
Podesta told reporters Tuesday that he is cooperating with an FBI criminal investigation into the hacking, and pointed a finger at Russia as a possible source behind the intrusion, echoing what U.S. intelligence officials said was the likely party behind the recent spate of hacking of political organizations in the U.S.
“I would say that Russian interference in this election and apparently on behalf of Mr. Trump is, I think, of the utmost concern to all Americans whether you’re a Democrat or Independent or Republican," Podesta said.
Prior to the purported Podesta hack, American intelligence agencies issued a rare public statement accusing senior officials in the Russian government of being involved in previous hacks targeting U.S. political entities, including the Democratic National Committee.
The emails are, for the most part, mundane: meeting plans, statements drafts, hiring decisions and advice (solicited and unsolicited) from friends and former colleagues. The 67-year-old former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton gets ads from West Elm and Starbucks, is a risotto aficionado and once had quite the mishap on a Megabus. His dinner dates read like a who’s-who of Washington, D.C. -- not surprising for someone who has worked at the highest levels of politics and government for over three decades, but fascinating to many readers to see in black and white.
However, some emails do purport to show at times deep tensions within the high-stakes Clinton universe of the campaign, the family’s foundation, and their large ring of top, high-profile aides. Overall, they provide a unique window in their world.
Here are some of the more notable emails and what they claim:
Firestorms in the Family and the Foundation
Several emails from 2011 and 2012 showcase extreme infighting between Chelsea Clinton and both staff of the Clinton Foundation as well as some of President Bill Clinton’s other top advisers.
In one fiery email addressed to Podesta, Doug Band, a longtime aide to President Bill Clinton, accuses Chelsea Clinton and her staff of leaking information about internal investigations into the Clinton Foundation to one of the Bush twins, which in turn made its way to the GOP.
“I just received a call from a close friend of WJC's who said that CVC told one of the Bush 43 kids that she is conducting an internal investigation of money within the foundation from CGI to the foundation," he wrote in January 2012, referring to William Jefferson Clinton, his daughter Chelsea and the Clinton Global Initiative. “The Bush kid then told someone else who told an operative within the Republican Party."
Headlines about donations and money in and out of the Clinton family’s philanthropic activities and nongovernmental work have plagued the former first family for years, and in another email exchange, Band blasts Chelsea Clinton for criticizing his consulting company.
"I don't deserve this from her and deserve a tad more respect or at least a direct dialogue for me to explain these things,” Band purportedly wrote in an email to Podesta. Band then wrote that Chelsea Clinton is “acting like a spoiled brat kid” who “has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she’s doing because she, as she has said, hasn't found her way and has a lack of focus in her life.”
The email correspondence came after Chelsea Clinton accused Band’s consulting company, Teneo, of evoking her father’s name without his knowledge, according to another email exchange released by WikiLeaks.
Band went on to suggest that Chelsea was more concerned with inappropriate ties between Teneo and the Clinton Foundation than the health of Clinton employees or her father’s reputation.
“But I'm sure Chelsea is more concerned with a mostly false story in the distinguished NY Post about MF Global and Teneo not her role in what happened to Laura/Bruce, what she is doing to the organization or the several of stories that have appeared in the NY Post about her father and a multitude of women over the years,” Band is allegedly have written in an email exchange with Podesta and Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills. Laura Graham was a former Bill Clinton chief of staff after his presidency and chief operating officer at the foundation. It's unclear who "Bruce" is in the email.
The foundation did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Help From the Party
The current, acting chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, frequently emailed with Clinton’s team too, the leaked emails suggest. Brazile has come under criticism this week from Trump and media critics after she allegedly forwarded Clinton's team information about upcoming press questions and events hosted by Sanders while she was a vice chair of the party and a CNN contributor.
“As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter wrote in response on Tuesday that political commentators are not with CNN reporters and producers during their debate or town hall planning sessions: “Secrecy is prioritized and access is restricted during the prep sessions.” Brazile emphasized to Stelter that "I had no access to any questions" for any debate or town hall.
CNN did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for further comment.
Brazile’s predecessor at the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was ousted after an earlier hack this summer that revealed her team had at times bad-mouthed Bernie Sanders and worked to help the Clinton team.
The ‘Veepstakes’ That Never Was?
Another note suggested Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine might have heard he had been tapped for the vice presidential slot a year in advance.
In an email sent to John Podesta, Erick Mullen, a Democratic consultant and former top aide on Capitol Hill, purportedly wrote that another man, Bob Glennon, would not “stop assuring” senators at a dinner party that Clinton had “personally told Tim Kaine he's the veep.”
“A little unseemly,” Mullen wrote in July 2015. None of the parties involved responded to ABC News' requests for comment. Bob Glennon advises Texas billionaire Robert Bass on campaign spending. Bass and Glennon have publicly said they back Clinton.
Clinton Campaign Courts Progressives But Writes Off Sanders
As late as December 2015, the Clinton campaign seems to have thought they could be the “presumptive nominee” by February, despite Sen. Bernie Sanders' rapid rise in the polls and jaw-dropping crowds. In an alleged internal memo included in the leak that breaks down the campaign’s broad game plan for the spring of 2016, one slide reads, “If we are not declared the presumptive nominee after a New Hampshire win, then a sweep of Super Tuesday states (minus Sanders’ home state of Vermont) may effectively close out the nominating process.”
“Our plan is to win Iowa and New Hampshire and, hopefully, end the nomination contest soon thereafter,” the memo continues, adding that if they cannot wrap it up by then, “the election becomes a delegate race and we must employ a strategy to acquire the most possible delegates within our current budget.”
Sanders crushed Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, and took four states to Clinton’s seven on Super Tuesday, effectively forcing her to compete through the California primary in early June.
In October of 2015, according to WikiLeaks, the campaign’s head of research sent an email to the campaign’s top brass with a splashy subject line: “PLS REVIEW: Sanders Hits.” It included extended bullet points of possible attack lines against Sanders, all of them wonky and based on policy (ranging from his opinion of the Export-Import bank to immigration).
“Per HRC’s request, we are doing a deeper dive on Sanders’s agriculture record to see if there is anything that could be problematic to Iowa,” the email goes on.
As the primary went on, several emails show a disagreement within the campaign about how to take on the underdog Vermont senator who had caught fire. Some campaign staff called for a strategy de-bunking his policy proposals, whereas others said she should focus on her personal story and inspirational message.
Podesta reached out to another one of Clinton’s primary challengers, Martin O’Malley, a few weeks after the former Maryland governor dropped out of the race in February 2016.
O’Malley replied that that he was glad to be home, adding, “No money, but no real debt. ... I'm now looking for work.” O’Malley made no mention of backing Clinton any time soon and in fact did not do so until that June.
In another email exchange, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio purportedly asked Podesta for “helpful” talking points to support Clinton when faced with a possible run by Vice President Joe Biden, though de Blasio had yet to formally back the former secretary of state and was still pushing the campaign for clarification on her position of the TPP trade deal.
The emails also show that as early as 2014, top campaign staff were courting de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but those early emails do not mention Sanders at all.
ABC News' Meredith McGraw, Alana Abramson and Ryan Struyk contributed to this report.
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