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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Email Leak Reveals Wily Clinton Campaign

(CN) - Despite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's apparent internet connectivity issues at the Ecuadorean embassy, he managed to release another batch of emails recently obtained from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta.

The 12th batch of emails brings the total number of Podesta communications released to approximately 18,000. Perusing through the latest bunch confirms that as in past disclosures, there are no smoking-gun-type of emails or discussions that will unravel Clinton's presidential bid - but they continue to provide insight into the facade meticulously constructed by Clinton's active and experienced communications team.

Last October, Clinton speechwriter Dan Schwerin shared a draft of a speech the candidate was to deliver in an effort to make clear her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an unpopular agreement in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and frequently vilified by Sen. Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail.

"The goal here was to minimize our vulnerability to the authenticity attack and not piss off the [White House] any more than necessary," Schwerin wrote at the beginning of the chain.

Later in the chain Joel Beneson, the chief strategist for the campaign, weighs in with the following:

"The reality is HRC is more pro trade than anti and trying to turn her into something she is not could reinforce our negative around authenticity. This is an agreement that she pushed for and largely advocated for."

This comment lays the bare the type of criticism often leveled at Clinton throughout her campaign — she is a more of a test-the-wind-before-speaking candidate than a passionate advocate for issues a la Sanders.

Beneson and other staff members acknowledge Clinton advocated fiercely for the TPP during her stint as U.S. Secretary of State and, according to the emails, apparently still supports it.

However, they also seem to recognize the TPP is unpopular among voters, particularly Sanders supporters who seemed to accept his view of trade deals as harmful to American manufacturing and the blue collar worker.

Critics of the Democratic nominee who say she will say anything to get elected and move forward with divergent policy once in office will find plenty of evidence to back their claims in the Podesta emails.

In an email sent to Podesta in August 2015, Ann O'Leary, a senior policy adviser in the Clinton camp, sends the following missive regarding the opioid overdose crisis:

"I'll revisit it as a good policy idea on the other side of this election but not one for campaign fodder."

More evidence of Clinton and her team tacking according to popular opinion comes in an email chain dated October 2015, where members of her staff are seeking to distance Clinton from her past stances against same-sex marriage, including the fact that President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 defining marriage for federal purposes as exclusively between a man and a woman.

"I'm not saying double down or ever say it again," Schwerin wrote in the chain. "I'm just saying that she's not going to want to say she was wrong about that, given she and her husband believe it and have repeated it many times. Better to reiterate evolution, opposition to DOMA when court considered it, and forward-looking stance."

Here again, it appears Clinton has a stated belief in marriage as strictly between a man and a woman which she belies with her public pronouncements.

However, there are no major revelations, particularly as it relates to the email scandal, the pay-to-play allegations associated with the Clinton Foundation and others that have been bandied about in the press.

Also, Clinton and her team's reputation as being particularly strong on policy does not suffer one iota with the Wikileaks dump.

In an email chain from this past March, Jake Sullivan, the foreign policy advisor for the Clinton camp, comes up with a detailed policy prescription aimed at reducing public corruption. Some of the ideas include increasing government reporting, particularly as it relates to spending, strengthening of bribery laws, increased reporting of federal contract awards and more.

During the Flint water crisis, the Clinton team combed through legislation designed to provide $250 million in federal aid to Flint and other American cities afflicted by lead contamination, pausing to discuss how some of the fine-print elements of the legislation would help or not help improve the situation.

"The Flint package and the energy bill amendments would come to a vote only after the Senate gets unanimous consent to some procedural maneuvers," wrote Dana Chasin, a policy expert with the Clinton camp.

Chasin went on to describe how Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee put holds on the legislation and then lifted them according to various policy goals they were attempting to forward, using a level of detail, nuance and understanding rarely exhibited by the people who cover Capitol Hill.

Aside from the overall view of the campaign's internal workings, the latest batch of emails reveals Clinton's apparent disdain for the "Cadillac tax" aspect of the Affordable Care Act, demonstrating she would be willing to tolerate revisions to President Barack Obama's landmark domestic legislation.

Another email from Politico reporter Glenn Thrush shows he was willing to send Podesta a copy of his story prior to publication. Clinton critics claim this is evidence of media collusion with her presidential campaign, while Thrush took to Twitter to refute such claims saying he always fact checks his articles with sources.

Assange has indicated the full tally of emails obtained from John Podesta amounts to 50,000, meaning reporters will be busy over the final three weeks before Election Day.

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