State Dept. May Have Used ‘Friendly’ Reporters to Manage Clinton Email Fallout
The Department of State apparently considered assisting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by providing information to “friendly” reporters who would hopefully report on her email scandal the way her campaign wanted, newly-leaked emails from Clinton’s campaign reveal.
The email chain is part of a massive Wikileaks dump of emails in the inbox of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. In the chain at issue, several Clinton campaign staffers tossed around various talking points to use for damage control once the State Department confirmed that Sidney Blumenthal produced 16 emails to Clinton during her time at State that Clinton later failed to turn over to the State Department.
During the conversation, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill chimed in to say that he had spoken to the State Department, and learned exactly what was planned for the next day.
“Just spoke to State a little more about this. A few updates,” Merrill says in the email, continuing:
The plan at the moment is for them to do this tomorrow, first thing in the morning. What that means specifically is that they are going to turn over all the Blumenthal emails to the Committee that they hav (sic) along with some other HRC emails that include a slightly broader set of search terms than the original batch. That of course includes the emails Sid turned over that HRC didn’t, which will make clear to them that she didn’t have them in the first place, deleted them, or didn’t turn them over.
Intriguingly, Merrill then indicates that the State Department is going to work with “friendly” reporters to stop Republicans on the Benghazi Committee from using the Blumenthal revelations to attack Clinton.
“They do not plan to release anything publicly, so no posting online or anything public-facing, just to the committee,” Merrill says. “That said, they are considering placing a story with a friendly at the AP (Matt Lee or Bradley Klapper), that would lay this out before the majority on the committee has a chance to realize what they have and distort it.”
Merrill then says it would behoove the campaign to work with both the State Department and the Associated Press to nip the story in the bud.
“We think it would make sense to work with State and the AP to deploy the below [talking points]. So assuming everyone is in agreement we’ll proceed,” Merrill says.
The next day, Lee and Klapper published a lengthy piece about the Blumenthal emails. Some, but not all, of the Clinton campaign’s talking points are included in the piece, though they are buried at the bottom. It’s unclear whether the State Department followed through on its plan of “placing” the story with them.
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