Julian Assange promised/threatened Tuesday that WikiLeaks would release a trove of “significant material” relevant to the United States presidential election. It appears WikiLeaks has followed through: On Friday, Assange’s website dumped portions of transcripts that appear to be from some of Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches.
The documents, if authentic, apparently come from the hacked emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
Buzzfeed reports that in an email dated January 25, 2016, Clinton research director Tony Carrk sent an email to Podesta and other top staffers that flagged portions of Clinton’s speeches — including those she gave to financial firms, an issue that had dogged the candidate in the Democratic primary. Carrk highlights the excerpts, writing there’s “a lot of policy positions that we should give an extra scrub.”
The speech excerpts — which are rarely longer than a paragraph, and so lack some context — read as a laundry list of Clinton’s potential weaknesses as a candidate. Among the lines in her speeches that allegedly gave Carrk pause are those that seemed to highlight her perceived coziness with Wall Street; those that appeared to champion pro-trade positions; and those that seemed to advertise her State Department email miscues, including the security concerns surrounding her use of a Blackberry.
Here’s a portion of a speech Clinton allegedly gave to a Brazilian bank, Banco Itaú, in May 2013, that emphasizes those pro-trade points:
“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders. We have to resist, protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade.”
Another line of attack about Clinton — the sense that she’s a bit “out-of-touch” — is echoed in remarks she gave to an audience from Goldman Sachs BlackRock in February 2014:
“And I am not taking a position on any policy, but I do think there is a growing sense of anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged. And I never had that feeling when I was growing up. Never. I mean, were there really rich people, of course there were. My father loved to complain about big business and big government, but we had a solid middle class upbringing. We had good public schools. We had accessible health care. We had our little, you know, one-family house that, you know, he saved up his money, didn’t believe in mortgages. So I lived that. And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven’t forgotten it.”
And here’s Clinton on public perception of a “rigged” financial system in remarks delivered to an audience from Deutsche Bank two years ago, in October 2014:
“Now, it’s important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market’s transparency and integrity. So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there’s wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy.”
Clinton, in a gift to the Bernie-or-Busters, also acknowledges the role donations — including from the financial industry — play in politics at a speech at the Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in October 2013:
Secondly, running for office in our country takes a lot of money, and candidates have to go out and raise it. New York is probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle, and it’s also our economic center. And there are a lot of people here who should ask some tough questions before handing over campaign contributions to people who were really playing chicken with our whole economy.”
Yet, as Clinton calls out the money in politics, she also seems to lament that reality, as in this speech to General Electric’s Global Leadership Meeting in January 2014:
I would like it not to be so expensive. I have no idea how you do that. I mean, in my campaign — I lose track, but I think I raised $250 million or some such enormous amount, and in the last campaign President Obama raised 1.1 billion, and that was before the Super PACs and all of this other money just rushing in, and it’s so ridiculous that we have this kind of free for all with all of this financial interest at stake, but, you know, the Supreme Court said that’s basically what we’re in for. So we’re kind of in the wild west, and, you know, it would be very difficult to run for president without raising a huge amount of money and without having other people supporting you because your opponent will have their supporters. So I think as hard as it was when I ran, I think it’s even harder now.”
There are a few excerpts in the leaked document where Clinton references her time at the State Department and talks about security concerns over the use of handheld devices. For example, this quote from a speech to software firm Nexenta in August 2014:
“I mean, every time I went to countries like China or Russia, I mean, we couldn’t take our computers, we couldn’t take our personal devices, we couldn’t take anything off the plane because they’re so good, they would penetrate them in a minute, less, a nanosecond. So we would take the batteries out, we’d leave them on the plane.”
The authenticity of the WikiLeaks documents hasn’t been verified. There are hundreds and hundreds more emails, many of which log the inner and sometimes mundane workings of a campaign — things like tracking the press and social media and crafting statements.
Podesta challenged at least one of the details in the WikiLeaks release Friday night:
On Friday, shortly before this huge document dump, U.S. government officials said they were “confident” Russia orchestrated the recent hacks of DNC officials and others with the goal of disrupting the United States elections on November 8. These transcripts — along with a leaked video of Trump bragging about groping women — will, at the very least, throw a curveball at Sunday’s second presidential debate.
This post has been updated throughout.