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10 More Things We’ve Learned From Wikileaks
With the presidential election right around the corner, still more emails are being released by Wikileaks. These new batches of emails provide a continuing look into what goes on behind the scenes in the democratic campaign, and are a sobering look at the real story behind the media crusade.
Laura Graham was deputy director of White House scheduling during Bill Clinton’s time in office, a job that required her to interview with John Podesta. She’s also become the Clinton’s chief of staff and the chief of operations for the Clinton Foundation, meaning that she is in the center of everything that is going on in the Clinton camp. Doug Band, who has been at the heart of newly-exposed comments regarding Chelsea Clinton, called Graham “the glue that holds it all together”.
The leaked emails suggest that not all is rosy behind the scenes at the Clinton Foundation. On December 8, 2011, Band sent an email warning about the state of Graham’s mental health. Not only did he tell other Clinton supporters that he had just talked Graham out of driving her car off a Staten Island dock and ultimately committing suicide in the water, he gave a reason, too. He writes, “She called to tell me the stress of all this office crap with wjc and cvc as well as that of her family had driven her to the edge and she couldn’t take it any more.” The email goes on to say that Chelsea would undoubtedly not care, and be more worried about what the press was saying about her in recent articles.
9The Hillary Victory Fund
Back in July of 2016, Wikileaks released some emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee that seemed to prove just how hand-in-hand officials and their fundraisers went. Those emails led to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, and put the spotlight directly on just what kind of things donations to the party could get you. Those included everything from a more prominent position at public events to VIP packages, luxury hotel rooms, and access to various Democratic officials.
More recently released emails from this latest batch of leaks shows that the trading of fundraising dollars for favors continues with the Hillary Victory Fund. Among the most damning evidence is an email from Minh Nguyen to John Podesta, in which he talks about “trying to land the campaign a big fat whale that can give between $100,000 to maybe $1 million”. That donation hinged on one thing: “If their ego can be reassured that they won’t be treated “just like any other donor.””
The email also says, in two different places, “I’m 100% sure this is out of protocol.” and “If it’s 100% unappropriate I understand”. Accusations of bending the rules about campaign funding have plagued the committee for months, and these emails (sent in December of 2015), suggest that the accusations weren’t unfounded.
8Bending DNC Fundraising Rules
In addition to trading donations for political favors, the Hillary Victory Fund has been associated with a practice that has been allowing for the bending and breaking of committee fundraising caps. Bloomberg took a closer look at what was going on behind the transfer of funds between the HVF and the DNC, and used the donations of S. Donald Sussman as an example.
Sussman first gave the HVF $343,400, an oddly specific sum that will definitely come into play. The HVF then transferred $33,400 to the DNC, which is the max donation he would be allowed to give for the election. The HVF then transferred $10,000 from his donation, bundled in a larger transfer of $179,000, to the Democratic Party of South Carolina. The same day – April 25 – the South Carolina Democrats funneled that same amount into the DNC. Since state parties transferring money to federal ones don’t have to disclose where all the money came from, it’s a work-around that allows more money than is legally allowed to be donated into a campaign from a single source. Election laws limit personal donations but not state, putting the Wikileaks emails in a whole new light.
7Receiving Town Hall Questions
When the above-mentioned Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned amid scandal, the position was taken over by Donna Brazile. According to the Wikileaks emails, Brazile sent Jennifer Palmieri an email on March 12, 2016, that began, “Here’s one that worries me about HRC”, and continued with a run-down of a series of statistics and a question on whether or not “Ohio and the 30 other states” should get rid of the death penalty. The email was titled, “From time to time, I get the questions in advance”.
The next day, Clinton was at a town hall in Ohio when she was presented with the same question – almost verbatim – from undecided voter Ricky Jackson, who had been wrongly convicted, sentenced to death, and eventually exonerated.
Brazile later said that she certainly had not shared the questions, and that she didn’t even know what was going to be asked. A similar position was held by TV One’s Roland Martin, who claimed first that not even his own executive producer knew what the questions were going to be, before saying (a few hours later) that he had sent the questions to CNN through that producer and his crew.
Brazile has also been implicated in the election rigging scandal recently uncovered by Project Veritas. More damning evidence on that front is due to be released on Monday.
6Pulling Strings for Special Cancer Treatments
Back in 2008, Nancy Pelosi made headlines after pulling some strings to help Fred Baron receive an experimental cancer treatment in spite of being denied by the drug’s manufacturer. The drug, Tysabri, was made by Biogen, Inc., and had been approved for use in the treatment of Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. It was being tested for use in treating bone marrow cancer, but Biogen refused to try it in Baron in case ill effects gave the drug a black mark that ultimately resulted in it being denied to other patients. Pelosi pulled strings, the drug was given, and it didn’t work.
The Dallas Morning News later ran a story about just how those strings got pulled. Baron was well-known to the DNC, as both a party fundraiser and as one of the key players in the John Edwards scandal that saw money funneled into an account to keep his mistress quiet. The DNC was not the only one coming to Baron’s aid, either, and buried in the Wikileaks emails is a conversation with John Podesta that talks about the board members of Biogen, a plea from Baron’s wife, and a reminder of the money that Baron had donated to the Mayo Clinic. Lisa Baron’s original email was also included, where she threatened to “take out full pg add in boston globe to ceo and board members” if they wouldn’t prescribe the drug.
Bill Clinton and other DNC party members went to bat for Baron in order to get the drug released. Lisa Baron was quoted as saying, “It’s not fair that other people can’t pick up the phone and make the government give them a drug.”
In March of 2016, Neera Tanden, Jake Sullivan and John Podesta were exchanging a series of emails that seems to hint about much, much bigger things that they were all aware of. They were talking about some ideas with the ultimate goal of trying to decide what was going to be put forward as official positions for Clinton’s campaign, and one reads, “Strengthen bribery laws to ensure that politicians don’ change legislation for political donations.”
It sounds like a favorable stance to adopt, and it’s the second suggestion in the list. Farther on in the email, it reads, “The second idea is a favorite of mine, as you know, but REALLY dicey territory for HRC, right?” Other suggestions include things like disclosing the donors who contributed to election commercials, and full, transparent reporting when it comes to government contracts, and limiting the money contributed to campaigns by lobbyists.
The only real response is “We will mull. I can see this either way.”
4The Trans-Pacific Partnership
On October 8, 2015, Clinton was quoted as saying, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.” At the time, that was a bit confusing, as while she was secretary of state, she sang the praises of the plan. Her stance as a part of the government was to call the plan all sorts of things, from “gold standard” to “groundbreaking”, and she even went as far as trying to get more nations on board with the plan.
That was after Wikileaks first got involved with the plan, releasing drafts of the free-trade agreement that, at the time in 2013, included 12 different countries. Now, Wikileaks has released emails that date from the same time as Clinton’s flip to suggesting that the trade agreement had some serious concerns that needed to be addressed before she would endorse it. Speechwriters debated on how to present her current position without undermining her previous comments, bringing up things like poor working conditions in some of the nations the agreement would be with, as well as environmental and public health concerns.
Going over drafts of speeches and comments, speech writers clearly had their hands full making it clear that she opposed the plan while adding in positivity, compliments and focus. Joel Benenson wrote, “But 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.”
The issue of whether or not Clinton deleted a whole bunch of emails that were stored on a private email server has been one of the sticking points of the campaign. The issue has been at the heart of countless debate and online discussion, and buried in the Wikileaks emails is one that shows a step-by-step, internal discussion on just what went into the process of sorting through emails and deciding which ones to give the order to delete.
In the emails, it was mentioned that a complete vetting process was undertaken to save the work-related emails that had been turned over to the government. There are also a list of “possible questions” and the answers that were approved for those questions, including one about whether or not the entire server was completely wiped of all emails afterward. The official answer is, “I asked that they be deleted, how that happened was up to the company that managed the server. And they are cooperating fully with anyone that has questions.”
Rumor has it that Wikileaks has all of the deleted emails and will be releasing them closer to the election.
2Pay-to-Play in Morocco
Accusations of accepting campaign donations in exchange for favors has dogged the campaign from the beginning, and the day after Clinton dodged the question in the last presidential debate, emails were released that suggested that is exactly what was happening on a massive scale. The country in question is Morocco, and the donation in question was a $12 million commitment from the nation’s King Mohammed VI.
News outlets originally reported that the Clinton campaign had accepted $1 million for a phosphate company owned by the Moroccan government, and also noted that it was highly unlikely that she would be heading to Morocco for an event that was scheduled for the month after her campaign kicked off in earnest. And, according to the recently leaked emails, that was a huge problem.
Huma Abedin wrote, “Just to give you some context, the condition upon which the Moroccans agreed to host the meeting was her participation. […] The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting.”
1The Million-Dollar Birthday Present
And speaking of donations for favors, there is also the decidedly massive $1 million “birthday present” that Qatar wanted to give Bill Clinton. According to the leaked emails, the topic was brought up in a 2012 meeting between the Clinton camp and ambassadors from Rwanda, Malawi, Brazil, Peru, and Qatar. The email in question contained talking points for each interaction, and at the top of the list was a request from Qatar.
It read, “Would like to see WJC “for five minutes” in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011.”
It was followed by a note saying that Qatar was more than open to hearing their suggestions on what investments they should make in Haiti, and it also noted that they’re happy to consider any suggestions that the Clintons made.