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Clinton Staffer Calls Wall St. Speeches ‘Accommodationist’

(CN) - With Hillary Clinton looking increasingly likely to secure the presidency, her full speeches to Wall Street bankers show a willingness to accommodate the moneyed interests that diverges sharply from her campaign statements in the past few months.

Wikileaks' latest offering makes nearly 26,000 emails by Clinton campaign chair John Podesta leaked so far.

One of the more profound insights is the transcripts of three paid speeches Clinton delivered to a group of Goldman Sachs investment bankers on three separate occasions in 2013, the first coming four months after she stepped down as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

The fact the speeches ever occurred at all was brought up repeatedly by Sen. Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail, as he fought Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Sanders said the existence of the speeches showed Clinton was too cozy with Wall Street and indicated she won't do enough as president to enforce regulations on an industry that is widely seen as responsible for triggering The Great Recession.

Sanders repeatedly called on Clinton to release transcripts of the speeches. She refused, fueling the flames of critics who see her as secretive and averse to the truth.

An email released as part of the nearly 1,600 uploaded on Monday provided a glimpse into a Clinton ally's dismay with the Goldman Sachs speeches and their potential to hurt Clinton's campaign.

"It's pretty bad," Democratic Party political consultant Mandy Grunwald said in an email to several Clinton staffers. "She is critical to some extent of what led to the crash but the more memorable stuff is totally accommodationist."

In the second of three speeches Clinton delivered to Goldman Sachs in 2013, she told a crowd of investment bankers that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a landmark piece of legislation signed by Obama in 2010 that attempted to introduce more rigorous regulations on the banking industry, was done for "political reasons."

"If you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing, but what you do is really important," Clinton told the bankers during the speech, according to transcripts.

She continued, "I do think that there has to be an understanding of how what happens here on Wall Street has such broad consequences not just for the domestic but the global economy, so more thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don't kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here."

Grunwald flagged the excerpt as noteworthy in her email, and also expressed concern regarding Clinton's "tepid" viewpoints toward the Affordable Care Act as forwarded in the speech.

Indeed, Clinton does not give a full-throated endorsement of Obama's landmark domestic legislation often referred to as "Obamacare."

"And on the Affordable Care Act, I think there's going to be a few months to see whether or not it can be operating the way it should, and then people can have a rational discussion about what, if anything, can be done, and then they can be arguing it out in the election," Clinton told the bankers.

While, the speeches clearly reveal Clinton's pragmatic approach to issues and demonstrate that she does not share the anti-Wall Street zeal possessed by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, they also show a seasoned politician in full command of the facts.

In the first Goldman Sachs speech Clinton details foreign policy talking points with little effort, providing insight into the character of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and how escalations in the South China Sea can be tackled. She also advocated for covert involvement in Syria, asserting a slight but substantive divergence from Obama's preferred method of staying entirely out of the complex military conflict.

In that speech, Clinton also decries politicians who are so possessed by ideological fervor that they dispense with evidence and favor partisanship over cutting deals and getting work done for the nation.

"And there are other ways that we can put ourselves on a better footing, like passing a decent immigration law and dealing with our budget and being smart about it and realizing there are two sides to the equation," Clinton said. "You've got to have spending restraints and you've got to have some revenues in order to stimulate growth."

Thus, the portrait of Clinton that emerges from the Wall Street speeches and the latest emails is not markedly different from the one she presents to voters: a seasoned politician less concerned with passionate advocacy for a viewpoint and more intent on pragmatism, compromise and getting things done.

As Matt Yglesias of Vox wrote about the Wall Street speeches in particular, and the Podesta emails in general:

"The secret that is revealed is exactly the thing everyone already most clearly knows about Clinton — she's a veteran political insider who likes to see all the angles and make her play accordingly, not a reformer who's going to show up and clean house."

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