Leaks: Clinton camp grappled with server
WASHINGTON — Purportedly hacked emails show that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was slow to grasp the seriousness of the controversy over her use of a private email server and believed it might blow over after one weekend.
Two days after The Associated Press was first to report in March 2015 that Clinton had been running a private server in her home in New York to send and receive messages when she was secretary of state, her advisers were shaping their strategy to respond to the revelation.
Among the emails made public Tuesday by WikiLeaks was one from Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill, who suggested that the issue might quickly blow over.
“Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term,” Merrill wrote on March 6, 2015.
It did not, and it has persisted as a theme among her campaign critics and rivals.
WikiLeaks began releasing Friday what it said were years of messages from accounts used by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Months after Merrill’s message, the campaign was still preoccupied with emails. In May2015, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon alerted other staffers that the Justice Department was proposing to publish Clinton’s work-related emails by January in response to requests by news organizations. Fallon, a former Justice Department spokesman, wrote that unspecified “DOJ folks” told him there It’s not clear who hacked John Podesta’s emails. was a court hearing planned soon in the case. The name and email address of the person who shared the information with Fallon had been deleted.
Donald Trump on Tuesday called Fallon’s email “unbelievable,” and his supporters said it showed collusion between the Obama administration and Clinton’s campaign.
The dates of court hearings would have been publicly posted in advance on the court’s docket. Fallon did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department declined to discuss Fallon’s email.
It wasn’t immediately clear who hacked Podesta’s emails, though U.S. intelligence officials last week blamed the Russian government for a series of breaches intended to influence the presidential election.
Podesta on Tuesday accused longtime Trump aide Roger Stone of receiving “advance warning” about WikiLeaks’ plans to publish the purportedly hacked emails and suggested the Republican candidate is aiding Russian interference in U.S. politics.
The Russian Embassy in Washington has denied any role in the cyber attacks, tweeting that U.S. officials are just “whipping up” antiRussia hysteria.
The messages stolen from Podesta’s account describe how Clinton’s closest advisers considered responding to key events during the campaign.
In emails from March 2015, Merrill suggested a strategy — ultimately nixed by Clinton herself — of having comedian Larry Wilmore and Bill Clinton joke during an event for the Clinton Global Initiative charity in Coral Gables, Fla., before having Hillary Clinton join them on stage.
In the end, Hillary Clinton’s team drafted talking points Clinton used at the news conference at the United Nations.
Clinton said she “fully complied with every rule that I was governed by” and that “there is no classified material” among her workrelated emails. Both of those statements were later proved false.
As the email controversy escalated in the summer of 2015, Clinton herself seemed slow to grasp the continuing political damage. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri in August expressed concerns that Clinton wasn’t “in the same place” on the issue as some on her campaign staff.
At the time, the political aides were working out details of revealing that Clinton had directed her staff to hand over her server and a thumb drive with copies of her emails to the Justice Department. Palmieri was writing other campaign aides to arrange for a Univision reporter to ask “a few questions on emails” during an interview that would otherwise focus on college affordability.
“As you all know, I had hoped that we could use the ‘server moment’ as an opportunity for her to be viewed as having take a big step to deal with the email problem that would best position us for what is ahead,” Palmieri wrote.