Leaked campaign emails show ‘moderate’ side of Clinton
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.
In this Oct. 5, 2016 photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Women for Hillary fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in Washington.