Scandal? What Scandal?— Look what WikiLeaks dragged in—-39hj.,b43
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On March 5, 2015, John Podesta, former White House chief of staff and longtime Clinton family confidant, received an email from his daughter. “I’m heading back to NY tonight. Any chance you’re staying in nyc b/c of weather (or scandal)?” she asked. Podesta responded, “What scandal? A few e-mails that we’ve asked be made public?”
What makes this email remarkable, observes National Review‘s Jim Geraghty, is the date. It was three days after news had broken that Hillary Clinton improperly used a private email server during her time at the State Department and one day after Clinton had been served with a congressional subpoena for emails on that server. Podesta may have tried to spin his own daughter with his seeming insouciance, but about three weeks later, with the scandal of the private server rapidly metastasizing, Clinton’s IT guy had his infamous “oh sh—” moment. He realized he had forgotten to wipe her server clean, as he had promised to do. He promptly used the computer program BleachBit to delete all the emails even though, as the FBI later concluded, “at the time he made the deletions in March 2015, he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail data.” (The FBI investigators, as it turned out, gave him immunity, but this sort of data-destruction-despite-a-subpoena is not something you should try at home.)
The reason we’re privy to Podesta’s cavalier attitude about Clinton’s email scandal is that he now has email headaches of his own. Over a period of weeks, the shadowy WikiLeaks organization has been releasing hacked copies of Podesta’s emails dating back years. WikiLeaks almost certainly has ties to Russian intelligence and is obviously up to no good. The requisite caveat lector thus applies. But so far, every email under scrutiny appears to be genuine.
Taken in total, the picture Podesta’s emails present is of a man whose tentacles are adroitly moving all the levers of power. In retrospect, Podesta’s casual attitude toward Clinton’s email problems doesn’t look oblivious—it looks prescient. Why should he worry about disgrace for Hillary Clinton when he and his friends in politics, business, and the media dictate what becomes a scandal?
On March 4 of last year—again, right after the Clinton email scandal broke—Podesta sent the following email to Clinton aide Cheryl Mills (who also received an immunity deal from the FBI): “Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That’s the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but [it] seems like they will.”
President Obama first claimed, as with all allegedly unexpected calamities that have befallen his White House, that he didn’t learn about Clinton’s email scandal until he read about it in the papers. However, an item from Podesta’s inbox makes that denial seem less plausible. After the New York Times reported on March 7, 2015, “Obama Says He Didn’t Know Hillary Clinton Was Using Private Email Address,” Clinton aide Philippe Reines wrote to Podesta, “One of us should connect with the WH just so they know that the email will show his statement to not make sense.” That’s because, as was subsequently revealed, the president had been emailing Clinton at her private email server address.
According to FBI files released in late September, Obama was emailing Clinton using a pseudonym. “Once informed that the sender’s name is believed to be a pseudonym used by the president, [Clinton aide Huma] Abedin exclaimed: ‘How is this not classified?’ ” the FBI report says. “Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email.” Abedin was also granted immunity by the FBI.
Pretty soon all of America would have been asking: What did Obama know about Clinton’s illegal email server and when did he know it? There are intimations that sources inside the State Department and Department of Justice were giving the Clintons advance notice of developments in the email investigation, and while it’s unseemly, there’s no compelling evidence this was illegal. Podesta’s emails contain evidence of possible illegal coordination between the Clinton campaign and pro-Hillary political action committees, but that’s still being unpacked. Even the emails about Obama and Clinton’s correspondence have to be taken in broader context to be properly understood.
The Center for American Progress—the influential liberal think tank founded by Podesta—warns the Clinton campaign against backing a $15 minimum wage. “Substantively, we have not supported $15—you will get a fair number of liberal economists who will say it will lose jobs,” writes Tanden. While Tanden was right to warn against embracing the sort of populist socialism that Bernie Sanders’s campaign would promote, the Podesta emails suggest that Sanders’s critique of Democratic elites’ being in thrall to Wall Street is on target. According to the New Republic, the most damning of the lot is an October 6, 2008, email from Michael Froman, currently the U.S. Trade Representative. He formerly served as chief of staff for Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin in the Clinton White House and worked with Barack Obama at the Harvard Law Review. At the time he emailed Podesta, Froman was an executive at Citigroup and Podesta was co-chair of Obama’s presidential transition team. The email had the subject “Lists.” Attached to the email were three lists of people who could fill 31 Obama cabinet positions, organized by sex and ethnicity.
“[The lists] correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more,” notes David Dayen in the New Republic. “For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.” In other words, a month before the 2008 election, an executive at Citigroup, which would soon receive the largest federal bailout of any bank during the financial crisis, was basically dictating the makeup of the Obama cabinet.
If that weren’t enough to give the Bernie Bros an aneurysm, WikiLeaks released what they dubbed “an American journalism ‘holy grail.’ ” In Podesta’s emails were three transcripts of speeches Hillary Clinton was paid $675,000 to deliver to Goldman Sachs, the world’s most powerful investment bank and a favorite punching bag for liberal activists demanding more financial regulation.
While that seems like a benign enough sentiment, we learn from a previous Podesta email that Clinton’s other comments on Wall Street transparency were duplicitous and worrisome to her campaign. “If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” she said at a Goldman Sachs event. “So, you need both a public and a private position.”
She also disparaged the Dodd-Frank financial reforms as being the result of political panic, contradicting not just the Democratic narrative that reforms were being put in place to prevent another financial meltdown but her own New York Times op-ed, in which she praised Dodd-Frank for “curb[ing] recklessness on Wall Street.” Given what a flashpoint Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street were in the Democratic primary, NBC’s Chuck Todd speculated on the Today Show that had her remarks to Goldman Sachs been released earlier, it could have “possibly cost her the nomination.”
source–wikileaks, mark hemingway, national review, jim geraghty, cheryl mills, nyt, huma, neera tanden, think progress, new republic, michael froman, david dayen, john halpin, robby mook, dan schwerin, jennifer palmieri, sayeed farouk, chris hayes, msnbc, brent budowsky, cnn, brain stelter, mark leibovich, milia fisher, lisa caputo, sheara braun, hohn haywood, maggie haberman, bill ivey,