#Podesta16: WikiLeaks releases fresh batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton © Carlos Barria
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released a new tranche of emails from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

The organization had already released more than 26,000 emails by Saturday in a series of 15 consecutive daily releases.

Sunday’s leak includes Clinton aides corresponding about former Republican Party candidate Marco Rubio and concerns over President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy.

READ MORE: 'We are nervous about this': Team Clinton weigh email server jokes in #Podesta15 release

The leaks have offered extraordinary insight into the operations of Clinton’s campaign team, revealing details about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, ‘pay for play’discussions, Hillary’s Achilles heel, and addressing her server scandal through jokes.

Sunday’s release brings the total number of emails leaked online by WikiLeaks to 26,803.

Prominent members of the Clinton campaign team have accused RT of direct involvement in the email hack due to its swift reporting on the WikiLeaks releases, despite the emails being publicly available through the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks has been releasing the Podesta emails at around the same time every day for over a fortnight.

Rubio's ‘coordination’ with Citadel CEO

An email thread from October 29, 2015 reveals the Clinton’s campaign ‘intel’ at work. Chicago based attorney William Mahoney emailed Podesta informing him of an encounter he witnessed between Republican candidate Marco Rubio and Citadel CEO and founder Kenneth Griffin.

“Interesting sighting at our residence in Chicago. Walking in lobby from dinner. Marco Rubio leaving, escorted by Ken Griffin from Citadel - Griffin had small event for him at residence. Super pac money to follow - Thought you should know,” Mahoney wrote.

Podesta replied, “Wow! great intel”, and forwarded the message to Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, who commented that the meeting “smells like coordination”.

“So the guy bankrolling the new super PAC that has an ad using her Benghazi testimony is talking with the candidate who is attacking us on Benghazi,” Carrk added.

Hedge fund manager Griffin has been named as one of the financial backers of the Future 45 organization which supports Donald Trump’s presidential run. Future 45 produced the aforementioned video criticizing Clinton over the Benghazi attack in which four US citizens, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed. 

Concern over Obama’s Afghanistan strategy

Emails dated November 29, 2009 between Podesta and US army officer, Jon Soltz, who served in the Iraq War in 2011, reveal concerns from both men over Obama’s imminent plan on the future of US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Obama announced on December 1, 2009 that he would send over 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan.

Soltz, who founded the veteran support organization  VoteVets.org, was an outspoken critic of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 in which he had served as a captain. In the emails leaks Sunday, he sought advice from Podesta on how to deal with his reservations about Obama’s proposal.

I know our members who we have polled don't support what I think the Obama administration will unveil. We have always been supportive of them, even to be honest when they don't seem to include us on much,” he wrote.

Do you have any guidance on how to approach this. Obviously there is a donor component here and we have never really been in a position to disagree with our allies,” Soltz continued.

Podesta responded that he shared Soltz’s concerns, but was short on guidance: “I'm with you man. Not sure on advice. I think it is time to raise questions at a minimum or at least ask for answers from admin.”

Soltz replied that he would follow his gut on the issue, though he sought Podesta’s support on that, saying: “ I have to sleep at night. Just help cover me please.”

The veteran noted that despite his support for the Obama administration, his organization has never been included in discussions about the Afghanistan strategy. Soltz worried that taking a strong stance against the proposal risked exacerbating this.

Handing over that server

August 2015 was a hectic time for the Clinton camp as they prepared to handover a thumb drive and private email server containing thousands of classified emails, some top secret, to the FBI from her time as secretary of state. A newly released email thread from that period shows Clinton staffers strategizing on the issue.

On Saturday, August 8th 2015, Hillary speechwriter Dan Schwerin composed a potential “open letter” in an attempt to weather the media storm that was sure to accompany news of the surrender.

“Well, I took a stab at an open letter that would walk through more of the background and still make some strong points we want out there in her voice,” writes Dan. “I'm not convinced that this works or that it’s even a good idea. But take a look and see what you think.”

David Kendall, a lawyer from Williams and Connolly, clarified: “Just a factual point: we turned over the thumb drive on Thursday [August 6th] and are negotiating the turnover of the server. We should not give a specific day when she ‘decided’ or ‘directed’.”

The Clinton camp later provided a statement, rather than an open letter, from Clinton’s press secretary, Nick Merrill, on the surrender of the server  two days later.

Lobbyist and PAC funding

In messages dating back to February 2015, the Clinton aides sent an internal clarification among the team that they would accept funds from lobbyists and PACs, as failing to do so would be “a bit disingenuous”.

An email thread, started by Bloomberg journalist Jeanne Cummings, asked Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook whether Hillary “might adopt Obama’s ban on giving if she decides to run.”

Although Cummings didn’t receive a reply, the answer was firm. “FYI - not responding. So we're all on the same page, when I discussed this with our strategy team a while back we decided that we SHOULD accept lobbyist and PAC since it's a bit disingenioius [sic] not to,” Mook wrote to Dennis Cheng, who is currently the campaign’s national finance director.

“Obviously, we shouldn't respond to this, but flagging since I'm sure this will be covered when we launch,” he added. “Decision is final...we ARE taking it. Just wanted to flag that for everyone.”

More MSM coziness, dinner parties and 4-mile runs

Sunday’s leaks highlight more elements of a cozy relationship between the MSM, the Clinton campaign and Podesta.

The latest tranche of emails includes one dated  April 10, 2015 from Wall Street Journal journalist Colleen McCain Nelson thanking Podesta for a dinner party she attended at his house alongside members of “Team Clinton.”

Another email, written by chief CNBC Washington correspondent and New York Times contributor John Harwood centered on running times. Harwood inquires what time Podesta is making, to which he quips: “Why do you want to know that? Are you thinking of chasing me from my house to the office?

Harwood responds that he is using Podesta as a benchmark for being in good shape.

READ MORE: #PodestaEmails: Politico journalist seeks OK from Clinton before running story

Meanwhile, an email titled “Cecil the Lion” reveals a friendly relationship between Podesta and two New York Times reporters. Podesta asks deputy science editor Celia Dugger to forward a comment on “Cecil the Lion” to journalist Barry Bearak, who had previously spent time in a Zimbabwean jail. He then tells both reporters he missed them at a recent “reunion.”

However other emails reveal Clinton’s campaign team had some bones of contention with the Pulitzer Prize-winning NYT, which has publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

An email from November 2015 titled: “We haven't had a good war with NYT in a while” discusses the publication’s coverage – or lack thereof – into the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) review of Clinton’s emails.

In another email chain from March 2015 which discusses more elements of the email scandal, Podesta writes: “Looks like our friends at NYT are saving the personal emails story for a nice front page Sunday Times liar, liar pants on fire, all smoke no substance piece.”