Leaks show Clin­ton in­ner cir­cle grap­pling with email is­sue

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - WEATHER - By Michael Biesecker, Julie Bykowicz and Chad Day

WASH­ING­TON >> Hacked emails show that Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign was slow to grasp the se­ri­ous­ness of the con­tro­versy over her use of a home­brew 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 op­ti­misti­cally 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 be­came the lead­ing ex­am­ple of Clin­ton’s pen­chant for se­crecy, which has per­sisted as a theme among her cam­paign crit­ics and ri­vals through­out her elec­tion sea­son. Clin­ton did not pub­licly con­firm or dis­cuss her use of the email server un­til March 10 in a speech at the United Na­tions, nearly one week after AP re­vealed the server’s ex­is­tence.

Wik­iLeaks be­gan re­leas­ing on Fri­day what it said were years of mes­sages from ac­counts used by Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podesta. He has ac­knowl­edged his emails were hacked. Podesta warned that mes­sages may have been al­tered or edited to in­flict po­lit­i­cal dam­age but has not pointed to any spe­cific case of this.

Months after Mer­rill’s mes­sage, the cam­paign was still pre­oc­cu­pied with emails. In May 2015, 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 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 from AP. 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.

On Tues­day, Rus­sian Am­bas­sador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak dis­missed the ac­cu­sa­tions as un­true.

“We are watch­ing very care­fully the elec­tion cam­paign in this coun­try,” Kislyak said at a dis­cus­sion of bi­lat­eral af­fairs at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity’s cam­pus in Wash­ing­ton. “We don’t in­ter­fere (in) the in­ter­nal af­fairs of the United States, nei­ther by my state­ments nor by elec­tronic or other means.”

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