Huma Abedin, top aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, asked a speechwriter to shorten a potential statement to reporters because Clinton would not deliver it at a podium, according to the latest Wikileaks release of messages from John Podesta’s email accounts.
Dan Schwerin, Direct of Speechwriting for Clinton’s campaign, sent a draft of a “post-game statement [Hillary] could make to press” after she testified before the House Benghazi Committee in October 2015. The statement, at 253 words, would take the average speaker less than two minutes to deliver.
“I would make it shorter only because it’s a bank of Mics and no podium,” Abedin replied.
Based on contemporaneous news reports, Clinton’s team appears to have scrapped a “post-game” statement altogether — since Clinton ultimately sat and talked for 11 hours over the course of the hearing. During that time, Clinton suffered a coughing fit for several minutes while answering questions from Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Schwerin’s email is time stamped 5:48 PM on the day that Clinton testified. While the time zone is not specified, Clinton’s hearing adjourned around 9:00 PM eastern; Schwerin’s message, at the earliest, would have come near the end of its seventh hour. Abedin responded at 7:49 PM.
In a sit-down interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow the next day, Clinton said that after the hearing, “I had my whole team come over to my house and we sat around eating Indian food and drinking wine and beer” and talked about TV shows.
Clinton appeared to deliver a condensed version of Schwerin’s draft to an early question in the Maddow interview:
I said I would do it and I did it because if there is anything new, which is unlikely after the eight prior investigations that have been held, we should know about it because the point is, what are we going to do to both honor the people that we lost and try to make sure this doesn’t happen again? And as I said yesterday, we have had horrific incidents. We lost so many Americans in Beirut for a bombing of our embassy, then a bombing of the Marine barracks. We lost so many Americans in Beirut, first a bombing of our embassy, then a bombing of the Marine barracks. We lost Americans in the Al-Qaeda bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. We had more than a hundred attacks on our facilities around the world since 2001. So we live in a complicated, dangerous world. And so we do want to have a, a good conversation where people come to the table ready to actually learn about what we can do. I’m afraid that’s, you know, not necessarily what this particular committee is doing, but we have learned a lot from our previous investigations, and I’m certainly, you know, committed to doing all I can to make sure we do save lives.
Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump has questioned whether she possesses enough “stamina” to perform her duties as president. This week, Trump’s campaign released an attack ad with footage of Clinton’s security detail dragging her into a van during a medical episode she experienced on September 11th, 2016.
A statement from Clinton’s physician Lisa Bardack said that the candidate had been diagnosed with pneumonia several days before the incident.