Leaked cam­paign emails show ‘mod­er­ate’ side of Clin­ton

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD - By Lisa Lerer

Hil­lary Clin­ton took nearly ev­ery pre­cau­tion to en­sure vot­ers would never know what she told in­vest­ment bankers, lob­by­ists and cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives in dozens of closed-door paid speeches be­fore run­ning for pres­i­dent.

Turns out, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee had good rea­son to do so.

The pri­vate com­ments strike a tone starkly at odds with the fiery mes­sage she’s pushed through­out her cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the hard-fought Demo­cratic pri­mary. Some of her re­marks give fresh fuel to lib­er­als’ worst fears about Clin­ton, namely that she is a po­lit­i­cal mod­er­ate, happy to cut back­room deals with cor­po­rate in­ter­ests and curry fa­vor with Wall Street for cam­paign dol­lars.

The Wik­iLeaks or­ga­ni­za­tion on Fri­day posted what it said were thou­sands of emails ob­tained in a hack of the Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man’s per­sonal email ac­count. Among the doc­u­ments posted on­line was an in­ter­nal re­view of the speeches con­ducted by cam­paign aides to sur­vey the po­lit­i­cal dam­age her re­marks could cause if they ever be­came pub­lic.

In what aides cal­cu­lated were the most dam­ag­ing pas­sages, she re­flects on the ne­ces­sity of “un­sa­vory” po­lit­i­cal deal­ing, telling real es­tate in­vestors that “you need both a pub­lic and pri­vate po­si­tion.” To in­vest­ment bankers from Gold­man Sachs and Black­Rock, Clin­ton ad­mits that she’s “kind of far re­moved” from the mid­dle-class up­bring­ing that she fre­quently touts on the cam­paign trail. She tells Xerox CEO Ur­sula Burns that both po­lit­i­cal par­ties should be “sen­si­ble, mod­er­ate, prag­matic.”

And in speeches to some of the coun­try’s big­gest banks, she high­lighted her long ties to Wall Street, ban­ter­ing with top ex­ec­u­tives and say­ing that she views the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try as a part­ner in gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion.

“Part of the prob­lem with the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, too, is that there is such a bias against peo­ple who have led suc­cess­ful and/or com­pli­cated lives,” she said, ac­cord­ing to an ex­cerpt from an Oc­to­ber 2013 dis­cus­sion with Gold­man Sachs CEO Lloyd Blank­fein.

Clin­ton ap­pears to ques­tion the im­por­tance of the di­vest­ment of as­sets that fi­nan­cial ex­ec­u­tives of­ten un­der­take to avoid the ap­pear­ance of con­flicts of in­ter­est when they en­ter gov­ern­ment ser­vice.

“You know, the di­vest­ment of as­sets, the strip­ping of all kinds of po­si­tions, the sale of stocks. It just be­comes very oner­ous and un­nec­es­sary,” she said.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign has re­fused to con­firm — or deny — the au­then­tic­ity of the thou­sands of emails, sug­gest­ing they were part of a Rus­sian ef­fort to in­flu­ence the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial race. “I’m not happy about be­ing hacked by the Rus­sians in their quest to throw the elec­tion to Don­ald Trump,” cam­paign chair­man John Podesta tweeted. “Don’t have time to fig­ure out which docs are real and which are faked.”

In an ef­fort to keep those speeches pri­vate, strongly worded con­tracts prohibited unau­tho­rized record­ings, re­porters were banned and, in some cases, blog posts about her re­marks pulled off web­sites.

Through­out her cam­paign, she has staunchly re­fused to re­lease tran­scripts, re­sist­ing pres­sure from pri­mary ri­val Bernie San­ders and the me­dia to do so.

The Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sures should be the kind of “Oc­to­ber sur­prise” that would thrill Clin­ton’s op­po­nents, who’ve spent years at­tack­ing her as un­trust­wor­thy and will­ing to say any­thing for per­sonal gain.

Yet Repub­li­cans have found them­selves largely un­able to cap­i­tal­ize on the mo­ment, con­sumed in­stead by the lat­est scan­dal of their nom­i­nee, a video show­ing Trump ad­mit­ting to mak­ing preda­tory and lewd ad­vances on women.

This isn’t the first time Trump has saved Clin­ton from dam­ag­ing po­lit­i­cal fall­out. The mem­ory of Clin­ton stag­ger­ing and stum­bling af­ter leav­ing a 9/11 memo­rial event last month was largely erased by Trump’s de­struc­tive per­for­mance in the first pres­i­den­tial de­bate.

But Clin­ton’s pri­vate com­ments, now pub­lic, aren’t go­ing away. If she wins the White House, they’ll trail her into the Oval Of­fice, plant­ing seeds of dis­trust among some of her lib­eral al­lies.

A January 2016 email from the Clin­ton cam­paign’s re­search di­rec­tor to top com­mu­ni­ca­tions staffers in­cludes ex­cerpts from 15 of the more than 100 speeches she gave af­ter leav­ing the State De­part­ment, ap­pear­ances that net­ted her $21.7 mil­lion.

One pas­sage puts Clin­ton squarely in the free­trade camp, a po­si­tion she has strug­gled with re­peat­edly dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion. Dur­ing the first gen­eral elec­tion de­bate, Clin­ton said she sup­ports “smart and fair trade.”

But nearly three years ear­lier, in a talk to a Brazil­ian bank, she said her “dream” is “a hemi­spheric com­mon mar­ket, with open trade and open bor­ders” and asked her au­di­ence to think of what dou­bling Amer­i­can trade with Latin Amer­ica “would mean for ev­ery­body in this room.”

In another speech that year, Clin­ton con­ceded that pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates need the fi­nan­cial back­ing of Wall Street to mount a com­pet­i­tive national cam­paign. That’s a po­si­tion that plays right into po­lit­i­cal at­tacks lev­eled by both San­ders and Trump, who’ve ac­cused Clin­ton of be­ing bought and paid for by Wall Street.

“New York is prob­a­bly the lead­ing site for con­tri­bu­tions for fundrais­ing for can­di­dates on both sides of the aisle,” she said at the Oc­to­ber 2013 in­vestor con­fer­ence, spon­sored by Gold­man Sachs. “There are a lot of peo­ple here who should ask some tough ques­tions be­fore hand­ing over cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to peo­ple who were re­ally play­ing chicken with our whole econ­omy.”

Three years af­ter her speech, her cam­paign and pro-Clin­ton su­per PACs have raised nearly $59 mil­lion from fi­nan­cial in­vestors, ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics.


In this Oct. 5 photo, Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks at a Women for Hil­lary fundraiser at the Hy­att Re­gency in Wash­ing­ton.

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