As I write this, President Obama is using his press conference to spin the Russia-Wikileaks hacked e-mails story. In addition to snidely implying that Americans are idiots for allowing such relative trivia to sway their votes when so much of substance was at stake (note that there is no evidence that any votes were thus swayed), the President referred to the content of the DNC e-mails as “gossip.” Gossip is generally defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.” Calling the contents of Podesta’s e-mails and others “gossip” is deliberate disinformation by Obama—a lie. The most important revelations were definitely not “gossip.” Like these:
- A 12-page memo written by Doug Band, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, describes using his consulting firm to raise money for the Clinton Global Initiative as well as direct personal income for the former president. It describes how Band rallied clients of his firm, Teneo, to contribute directly to Mr Clinton for “in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like” referring to that fund as “Bill Clinton Inc”.
The memo confirmed that several companies directly paid the former president for his speeches or advice, while making contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative. One client, Coca Cola, received a face-to-face meeting with the former president at his home in 2009, after contributing millions to the non-profit foundation.
Verdict: Not gossip, but smoking-gun evidence of Clinton influence peddling.
- On the fateful day that news of a private email server broke, John Podesta emailed Neera Tanden, who worked for the Clinton campaign in 2008 and has remained a close adviser, to complain, saying, “We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat”, he wrote in September 2015 as Clinton staff feared that Vice President Joe Biden would join the Democratic primary race. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts. Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.” In the email exchange, Mr Podesta also complained that Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, and former State Department staffers Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines “sure weren’t forthcoming here on the facts here”. Mrs Tanden responds “Why didn’t’ they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy.”
Tanden later answered her own question saying, “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”
Verdict: Not gossip. These were assessments of those who know Clinton best, and their questioning her judgment was significant, as is the last comment, which completely undermines the year-long Clinton camp denial that there was anything amiss with Hillary’s handling of e-mail at State. It would be admissible in court to show state of mind and that the Clinton camp had lied.
- President Barack Obama told an interviewer that he first learned of Mrs Clinton’s private email server at the “same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” Immediately, the Clinton campaign emailed each other to say that the president was not telling the truth. The evening after the interview aired, Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin emailed to say “it looks like POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it in the news”.
Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills responded, “We need to clean this up…He has emails from her – they do not say state.gov.”,, meaning that Obama was aware that Clinton was using a private email server rather than her State Department-issued email account.
Verdict: Not gossip. The e-mails strongly suggest that Obama was caught in a lie.
- Huma Abedin wrote about the ethical problems caused by a Clinton Foundation summit in Morocco. At the time of the 2015 meeting in Marrakesh, Clinton was no longer Secretary of State, but she was about to announce her candidacy for President. Four months before the summit took place, Abedin voiced concern about Clinton not attending. “If HRC was not part of it, meeting was a non-starter,” she warned. “She created this mess and she knows it.”
The leaked emails suggest that a $12m donation from the king of Morocco was dependent on Hillary Clinton attending the summit. “Her presence was a condition for the Moroccans to proceed so there is no going back on this,” Abedin wrote to campaign manager Robbie Mook in a November 2014 email.
Verdict: Not gossip. It was direct evidence that the Clintons were selling access, using the Clinton Foundation.
- Another leaked set of emails showed that Clinton told a Goldman Sachs conference in 2013 that she would like to secretly intervene in Syria. The comment was in answer to a question from Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, in a speech after she left office as secretary of state. “My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” she told employees of the bank in South Carolina, which had paid her $225,000 to give the speech. “We used to be much better at this than we are now. Now, you know, everybody can’t help themselves. They have to go out and tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: Look what we’re doing and I want credit for it.”
Verdict: Not gossip. Clinton’s unreleased speeches to Goldman Sachs were a campaign issue. The transcripts finally surfaced in the hacked e-mails.
- In another excerpt from one of the paid speeches to Wall Street bankers, Hillary said: “Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But 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. So, you need both a public and a private position.”
That’s our Hillary!
Verdict: Not gossip. What one says is not gossip about oneself. This was strong evidence, as if more were needed, that Hillary Clinton has at least two faces, and maybe more.
- Finally, my special favorite: the e-mails showed that Donna Brazile, while a CNN contributor, notified the Clinton campaign in advance of a question she would be asked at a “town meeting” hosted by CNN in March, “From time to time I get the questions in advance,” Ms Brazile, later chair of the Democratic National Committee, wrote in the subject line of a March email to Clinton aides. She went on to paste the text of a question about the death penalty that Hillary would be asked. The question, with very similar wording, ended up was indeed asked of Clinton. “FYI,” Brazile wrote to campaign spokesperson Adrienne Elrod, who responded: “Thank you for the heads up on this Donna.”
Verdict: Not Gossip. This was proof that Hillary and the Democrats lie and cheat. Brazile first denied everything, saying in an statement: “I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” Later, another leak showed that Brazile gave another question to Clinton before the Flint, Michigan debate. She was fired from CNN. For her part, Brazile said she was “proud” of her actions, and had no regrets.
There are more, but these make the point. The e-mails weren’t “gossip.” President Obama was lying, spinning, and redefining the news story so it would be misunderstood.
Update: Quoth CNN’s Jake Tapper:
“We’re hearing this from comments Hillary Clinton made last night and President Obama suggesting “there’s no doubt it contributed [the Russian hacks] to the atmosphere in which the only focus for weeks at a time, months at a time were Hillary’s e-mail, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC. That didn’t happen. There was no time during the election where the only thing we heard about was Hillary’s e-mail, the Clinton Foundation, political gossip surrounding the DNC.”