Whistleblowing group WikiLeaks published over 2,000 emails from the server of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on Friday hours after the U.S. State Department officially blamed Russia for her email hacks.
The emails appear to date from 2008 to 2016 and come on the same day the U.S. State Department released 350 pages of Clinton's emails, after releasing 200 on Wednesday following a court order in June. WikiLeaks said it would release a total of 50,000 emails from Podesta in the days to come ahead of the election.
Many of the WikiLeaks' emails touch on daily foreign policy formalities, campaign strategizing and internal matters from the Clinton Foundation campaign, further revealing the blurred line between her staff at the State Department and those at her private non-profit. Much of the content is tame but shows the inner workings of a team dedicated to crafting Clinton’s public image.
In an introductory message to the leaks, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange points out one correspondence involving Russia, perhaps a jab at the State Department’s accusations that WikiLeaks takes direction from Russia.Clinton’s campaign had earlier denied allegations by the New York Times that as secretary of state she oversaw the sale of Uranium One to Russia, giving it access to one-fifth of uranium production—essential for the creation of nuclear weapons—in the U.S.
The Ghosts of Clinton's Past
The official that oversaw the sale, and who her campaign said had no contact with Clinton when he approved the sale, sent an email to Podesta a few days before her campaign confessing he “would like to do all I can to support Secretary Clinton” in her presidential campaign. In another leaked email, the official, Jose Fernandez, said he found his new position on the board of the Center for American Progress—the think tank that Podesta chairs—to be “extremely rewarding.”
As the hurricane in Haiti is reigniting criticism about the role of the Clinton Foundation in relief work in its 2010 earthquake, the emails narrate ongoing conversations that Podesta and his team had with billionaires over reconstruction. While the foundation’s aid was seen as minimal and of poor quality by Haitians, the emails claimed financial support from some of the world’s richest including Warren Buffett’s son Harold Buffett, Mexico’s richest man Carlos Slim and Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien.
Other major donors mentioned in the emails include major shareholders of the Keystone XL Pipeline—who donated over US$1 million to Bill Clinton shortly before she endorsed the project as secretary of state—and the Algerian embassy, whose US$500,000 donation to the foundation after the Haiti earthquake was not disclosed.
In Friday's statement, the government said disclosures of emails by WikiLeaks and hacking entities known as DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”
WikiLeaks has not identified the source of its leaks and criticized those who have claimed it was Russia. Guccifer 2.0 has identified itself as a Romanian hacker, but U.S. intelligence officials have concluded it and DCLeaks are both a front for Russian spy units.
"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," the statement said.
Podesta said public blaming for the hacks left one remaining question of "why Donald Trump continues to make apologies for the Russians."
Unsurprisingly, Podesta’s team, according to the latest leak, is not a fan of the Kremlin. In an email thread discussing drafts to a foreign policy speech last year, consultant John Anzalone suggests Clinton should “take on Putin” over his Syria position that defies “political reality” because it “would make her appear strong.” He also questions whether it is “enough to call just for vigilant screening” of Syrian refugees—and wins himself “a John Anzalone memorial paragraph in the speech.”
Jake Sullivan, foreign policy advisor to her campaign, chimes in that Clinton should “throw some more shade at the Arabs.”
Political communications consultant Jim Margolis responds, “I’m glad you’re bumping that up a bit. You cover regional responsibility, but this is a big flash point for voters.”