WikiLeaks: Clinton Aides Cautious of Mayor de Blasio During Democratic Primary

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 2: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (R) speaks with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after speaking at a rally at the Javits Center on March 2, 2016 in New York City. The former secretary of state won seven states in yesterday's Super Tuesday. …
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The third batch of 1,190 emails hacked from Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta by WikiLeaks provided a glimpse of the behind the scenes workings of Clinton top aides. One series dealt with keeping New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at arms length away from Clinton during the Democratic presidential primary.

“I stay in touch with [de Blasio] and his team a lot,” Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest aides, wrote to Clinton’s top aides. “He has recently asked to have increased direct access to her so he can tell his progressive partners what she thinks about issues important to them. He also thinks he can be most helpful to her if he has that kind of relationship. He wants to be seen as the loudest progressive voice for her and in oder to do that he needs access.”

The email dated November 2014 suggested the start of a rocky relationship between de Blasio and Clinton before her announcement as aides were looks into ways to prevent the New York mayor from gaining “direct access” with the Democratic nominee.

“In the next six months, someone else will have to inherit this relationship because it will not be tenable for HRC,” Abedin continued.

Shortly after Clinton announced her presidential bid via video in April of 2015, de Blasio declined to endorsed her candidacy of his former boss on “Meet The Press.” De Blasio, in 2000 managed Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign, told host Chuck Todd he was holding out in supporting her candidacy until he saw a “clear bold vision for progressive economic change” from her campaign. 

Failure to automatically endorse his former mentor led to the mayor receiving the cold shoulder from the Clinton’s aides when he reached out to regarding his launch of his national campaign tour to promote liberal causes. The efforts called “Progressive Agenda,” was a ten-point liberal policy platform that included raising the federal minimum wages, income inequality and promote tax fairness to push during the 2016 presidential election and his national profile would become de Blasio main focus as he ignored his day job as New York City mayor. 

At the same, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Saul reached out to Clinton’s aide regarding whether the Democratic nominee agreed with de Blasio platform on income inequality, in which the campaign refused to respond for comment. 

“I’m likely not to respond here (unless others feel differently) given the BDB dynamics,” Jesse Ferguson wrote, referring to de Blasio by his initials.

“Correct. Do not respond,” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communication director replied.

In one email message, de Blasio reached out to Clinton aides of his dream to “organize progressive nationally to take on income inequality” with two upcoming events in Iowa and Wisconsin. He also planned to hold a presidential forum in Iowa just before the Iowa Caucus, but the event was scrapped when none of the Democratic candidates responded to the invitation. 

“I want to keep you updated on the next steps in our efforts to organize progressives nationally to take on income inequality,” de Blasio wrote to John Podesta, Robby Mook and President of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden. “Below is an email going out today for an event coming up in two weeks. I believe you will agree with much of this content. Please let me know if you want to discuss.”

The aides ignored de Blasio, emailing amongst themselves, asking whether de Blasio progressive national campaign was an effort they “should care about.” 

“Should we care about this?” Podesta wrote.

Tanden replied, “Politically, we are not getting any pressure to join this from our end. I leave it to you guys to judge what that means for you, but I’m not sweating it.” 

In August 2015, de Blasio was asked on a radio interview with WNYC of his “preferred candidate,” in which he again declined to endorse Clinton. However, de Blasio reached to Podesta for talking points regarding rumors of Vice President Joe Biden entering the race.

“I’m certain I’ll be asked about Biden as early as tmrw. What could I say that would be helpful?” de Blasio wrote.

“Great guy, serious, grieve with him on the loss of his son, he has to make up his own mind whether to run, no big clamor out there for additional candidates,” Podesta replied.

A week later, de Blasio repeated Podesta’s talking point from the email exchange during his interview on NY1 with Errol Lewis. “Joe Biden is a great human being. I think he’s done extraordinary things for this nation, and I also have to say on a human level, I think we’ve all been grieving with him over these last weeks. I can only imagine what he and his family have been going through,” de Blasio said. “But if you’re talking about the state of the presidential race, I think it’s pretty straightforward. We have a very impressive group of Democratic candidates right now. I don’t think we need additional candidates.”

Soon after Clinton publicly announced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the 10 key issue of de Blasio’s Progressive Agenda campaign, along with a list of 100 New York city, state and national Democrat leaders backing her presidency, the mayor and Clinton camps were in discussion about scheduling a public endorsement. The public endorsement never occurred and the endorsement was announced during an TV interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show late October. 

The endorsement received little to no attention from the Clinton’s camp as the race started to intense up. Days before the Iowa Caucus, de Blasio attempted to get back on Clinton’s good grace, by volunteering to campaign for the Democratic nominee even though the campaign rejected his offer for help. When it came time to the Democratic National Convention in July, de Blasio was given a non prime-time speaking slot.