WikiLeaks: The toxic culture of Team Clinton
For a couple weeks now, I have spent hours going through each day’s release of the Podesta Emails from WikiLeaks.
At first, like many others, I was hoping to stumble on some explosive revelation or scandalous smoking gun.
But over time the thing that struck me in reading all these emails was the overall culture within the Clinton Campaign.
It’s downright toxic.
Their candidate is so deeply flawed and has so much baggage, it doesn’t shock me that the campaign is having such a difficult time even justifying her candidacy let alone advancing her campaign.
But the biggest problem Team Clinton has is both the candidate and many around her are deeply paranoid and secretive.
The most interesting dynamic I’ve seen in these emails has to do with Team Clinton’s near apoplectic response to leaks.
Now, keep in mind, these guys are thrilled to have people within DOJ, State, the press and Congress who leak to them.
But when it comes to people within the campaign leaking anything, they go into full-on rage.
There are two camps within Team Clinton. There are the campaign people working to get Hillary elected. And there are the Hillary die-hards working to make sure Hillary is protected.
And these two camps don’t always get on.
While both camps do not like it when something is leaked to the press, it’s the Hillary die-hards who become completely unhinged when it happens.
In fact, they assume people are “blabbing” even if nobody is “blabbing.”
The Hillary die-hards are so paranoid they don’t trust anyone outside of their camp.
This is completely understandable. These people have worked for Hillary for years and years. She is paranoid and secretive and I’m sure it rubs off.
The division between these two camps is plain as day in an email I found from today’s release.
On March 9, 2015 – the day before Hillary gave her first statement and press conference about her private server, Nick Merrill forwards to Team Clinton an email from CNN’s Brianna Keilar:
I understand Sec. Clinton will not address emails today. Can you help me with managing my network’s expectations? They have me live at 11a, though I was not initially expecting to be…
When Jennifer Palmieri replies that she had heard that Mika Brzezinski also reported that Hillary was to be addressing the email flap, Philippe Reines gets huffy.
How do you know that?
Nick Merrill tells Reines that Mika said it on air.
To be helpful, Kristina Schake provides links to on-air remarks about the possibility that Hillary would be making a statement any day on the email flap.
Reines is not mollified:
I’m sure this isn’t news, but this is creating trust problems on her end.
Reines is from the Hillary die-hard camp.
He has worked with her since 2002 – first as her press secretary when she was a Senator, then he moved over to the State Department when Hillary became Secretary of State.
You can’t spend that much time around Hillary Clinton and not become as paranoid and suspicious as she is.
Besides, anyone in the Clinton inner circle knows that Hillary has a lot of skeletons in her closet that must never be released.
Palmieri, on the other hand, is a campaign hire. From all the emails I’ve read, it’s clear that she doesn’t reside in this creepy bubble the Hillary die-hards do.
Her response to Reines’ paranoid reaction pretty much proves it:
If you are asking if I talked to any press or anyone outside of our internal team about our plans, I have not.
l have a 20 year reputation of not leaking and not starting now.
I have not even spoken to anyone at the White House about this.
In fact, I have removed myself from WH discussions about emails. Think that is cleaner for both sides. Told Eric he should call Philippe to help with prepping Josh.
Palmieri was so irritated by Reines’ paranoia, she forwards the email chain to Robby Mook with this message:
I am telling you right now that if there is any hint of trust issues with me, I am not taking this job. See below email from Philippe saying the leaks are creating “trust issues” for HRC.
The Hillary die-hards have a different agenda from the campaign hires.
Sure, they want her to win the White House. But for them, their job is to preserve and protect Hillary no matter what. And their obsession with leaks, their fear of people “blabbing,” all of it tends to make them a little suspicious.
This paranoia and suspicion runs rampant throughout these emails.
In an email chain from later that same day, Phillip Reines forwards to John Podesta, Cheryl Mills and Hillary evidence of further “blabbing” going on in the campaign.
This time news that Brianna Keilar was reporting that Hillary would be interviewed by Andrea Mitchell about the email scandal.
Ok, this has gone too far. The email below is from Craig to Nick to me where someone knows an interview with Andrea was on the table. Seperately [sic], Andrea just sent Nick this: “we are hearing news conference tomorrow?”
The Andrea part especially should only have been known to 10-12 people, 3 of whom are John, Cheryl & me.
John Podesta seems to straddle both the die-hard Hillary camp and the campaign camp.
His initial response to Reines is scathing:
You got to stop this. The press is trading in rumors that can easily originate in their own newsrooms. If someone wanted to leak juicy tidbits, they have a lot more to work with than our press planning. If we are going to be at each others [sic] throats before we start, we are going nowhere.
But Podesta feels the same way about leaks. His concern is clearly rooted in the “make sure Hillary is protected” mindset of the die-Hard camp. Later in the chain, Podesta writes this:
I don’t condone leaks, but she has a very tough job to do tomorrow. Do you really think it helps get her in the right head space to tell her she can’t trust anyone she just brought on board? Why are you fanning this with her? CNN thinking Andrea Mitchell is getting an interview is about the least of our problems. I am happy to fire someone for leaking whether they did or they didn’t just to make the point, but let’s try to get through the next few days.
Podesta even forwarded this exchanged to Jennifer Palmieri who replied:
Nice. I cant tell you how many emails there have been from him about leaks. I stopped reading them. Got real work to do, people! It is really crazy, worse than I thought. Thank you for both of these.
“Really crazy, worse than I thought.” This is the response one would expect from someone who is not in the die-hard camp.
Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have created this toxic, suspicious environment over decades. The people who have become invested in the Clintons are bound to get caught up in it.
I think it’s fair to say the reason Hillary is in the deep shit she is in today has a lot to do with the fact that these die-hard Clinton people put covering for Hillary ahead of everything else.
Even if it hurts her politically.
It is bound to put a wrench in any campaign when most of your time is spent making sure all the dirt your candidate lugs around doesn’t ever seen the light of day.
And all of this conflict is clear as day when you read through these Podesta emails.
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