6 Insights From the Latest Batch of Clinton Emails

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Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Over the past few days, thousands of pages of private correspondence have made their way out of John Podesta’s inbox and onto the open internet. WikiLeaks’s deluge of email exchanges between Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, her aides, her family members, and her favorite donors have provided fodder for countless news stories. Some of these — like reports that the Clinton campaign “colluded” with the Department of Justice during the latter’s investigation of the candidate’s emails — have proven dubious. Others, simply dull. (The story behind the emails’ release, by contrast, has grown evermore intriguing — on Wednesday, the FBI announced that it suspects Russian involvement in the email hack, while Russia’s leaders stopped issuing blanket denials in response to such allegations.)

But here are six eye-popping revelations from the emails, which shed new light on the Democratic primary, the politics of “ClintonLand,” and Blink-182’s concerns about UFOs.

1. It sure looks like the vice-chair of the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary.

On March 12, DNC chair Donna Brazile (then vice-chair) wrote Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri an email titled “From time to time, I get the questions in advance.”

In the body of her email, Brazile wrote:

Here’s one that worries me about HRC.

DEATH PENALTY
19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?

Palmieri replied, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.”

Clinton supports the death penalty in certain circumstances, while the Democratic Party’s grassroots favors its abolition. Thus, Brazile was, ostensibly, giving Clinton a heads-up that she would need to defend her stance at an upcoming town-hall event featuring both Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

In a statement on Tuesday, Brazile denied that she had leaked “debate” questions to the Clinton campaign.

“As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue,” Brazile said. “As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.”

The first part of Brazile’s statement has yet to be contradicted: As of this writing, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have not released statements saying that they received no suggestions from Brazile during the primary process.

But the second part of her statement appears to be true only when one emphasizes the word “debates.”

On Wednesday, Politico obtained an email exchange between Roland Martin and CNN producers that seems to confirm that Brazile leaked a town-hall question:

Roland Martin, a host on the TV One cable network who was co-hosting the town hall with CNN’s Jake Tapper, sent an email to CNN producers with three questions, the third of which dealt with the death penalty. POLITICO obtained that email, and here’s the text of the third question:

DEATH PENALTY
19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?


The wording, spacing, capitalization are identical.

In a separate email, Brazile tipped off the Clinton campaign to a “Twitterstorm” Sanders’s African-American outreach team was planning in January.

It isn’t terribly surprising that the DNC favored an Establishment candidate with deep party ties over an insurgent who’d only been a Democrat for a few months. And it should go without saying that Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic primary because she had an unusually polished answer on the death penalty at a CNN town hall.

Nonetheless, the DNC was supposed to stay neutral through the primary race. And the last DNC chair lost her job amid accusations of undermining the Sanders campaign.

2. Things are probably tense right now between Chelsea Clinton and Doug Band.

In 2011, Clinton Foundation head Doug Band was collecting one salary from that charity, one from Bill Clinton’s taxpayer-subsidized personal office, and another from his brand-new consulting firm Teneo. Band was very happy with this state of affairs.

Chelsea Clinton was not. Per Politico:

In December 2011, Chelsea Clinton sent a sharply worded email to top family confidants saying that people in London had raised “serious concerns” about the way Teneo was using her father’s name to set up meetings for clients, according to private emails released by WikiLeaks. “I will raise all of this and more with my father this evening,” she wrote. “Wanted to update you all in the meanwhile about my augmented concerns post London.”

Band did not appreciate Chelsea’s meddling.

“She is acting like a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she’s doing,” Band wrote to Podesta in November 2011. “Because she, as she has said, hasn’t found her way and has a lack of focus in her life.”

3. Hillary Clinton is less hawkish on Syria when she’s speaking with Goldman Sachs.

At the second presidential debate, Hillary Clinton reiterated her support for a no-fly zone in Syria. That policy has concerned some war-weary progressives, for reasons that Clinton articulated well in a June 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs.

“To have a no fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas,” Clinton said. “So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk — you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”

These concerns are no less relevant today than they were when Clinton voiced them. And now, establishing a no-fly zone in Syria could very well mean instigating a conflict with another nuclear superpower.

One way you could interpret the discrepancy between Clinton’s public position and her Goldman Sachs speech is that she is privately against escalation in Syria but believes its in her political interest to say otherwise.

4. Before Clinton decided to run for Obama’s third term, she flirted with running against the sitting Democratic president.

In June 2015, Clinton aide Huma Abedin wrote an email describing a rally the candidate had just held.

“She smacked down POTUS on trade and kept kicking for a little bit,” Abedin wrote. “Worth looking at the transcript but this seemed to really work for this crowd.”

During the same period, the New York Times reported that Clinton was seeking to rebrand herself as a populist alternative to Obama. By the end of the primary campaign, one of her central lines of criticism against Sanders would become the Vermont senator’s disloyalty to the first black president.

5. The “veepstakes” was as real as a WWE match.

Clinton seems to have settled on Tim Kaine as her running mate before the Democratic primary had even begun. Per ABC News:

In an email sent to John Podesta, Erick Mullen, a Democratic consultant and former top aide on Capitol Hill, purportedly wrote that another man, Bob Glennon, would not “stop assuring” senators at a dinner party that Clinton had “personally told Tim Kaine he’s the veep.”

“A little unseemly,” Mullen wrote in July 2015.

6. Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge may be the Clinton administration’s senior adviser on extraterrestrials.

DeLonge sent multiple emails to Podesta — a fellow UFO enthusiast — alerting the Clinton campaign chairman to new evidence that the U.S. government had covered up the crash of an alien vessel in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

In one of the emails, DeLonge offered to introduce Podesta to two high-level sources on this issue.

“I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic. Both were in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics,” DeLonge wrote in 2015. “Other words, these are A-Level officials. Worth our time, and as well the investment to bring all the way out to you.”

In another, DeLonge claims to be working with a former military official.

“He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware — as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base,” the vocal talent behind “All the Small Things” wrote in 2016. “General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago.”

It is unclear whether Podesta responded to these messages. Perhaps, on a subject this important, he chose to respond via a more secure means of communication.