Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Campaign Plans to Get Ahead of ‘Hyper Sensitive’ Health, Tax Issues

Hillary Clinton at the September 11 Commemoration Ceremony on September 11, 2016 in New York City.
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Several messages in the latest Wikileaks dump of John Podesta’s emails show Hillary Clinton’s campaign planning to “control” discussion about her taxes and her health, which campaign manager Robby Mook describes as “hyper sensitive” topics.

Mook writes to campaign chairman Podesta, asking if he had brought up these issues with Clinton, in March of 2015 — before the official announcement of her intention to run for president.

‘Hyper Sensitive’

“Have you talked with her at all about taxes and health?” he says. “I’m [sic] know both are hyper sensitive but I wonder if both are better dealt with very early so we control them–rather than responding to calls for transparency.”

Mook asks this question directly to Podesta, forwarding a thread where several figures in Clinton’s inner circle — Nick Merrill, Jennifer Palmieri, Kristina Schake, Tony Carrk, and lawyer Marc Elias — discuss potential press questions about Clinton’s nascent campaign. Oddly enough, the earliest email in the thread shows Merrill suggest that details about Mook “wearing polo shirts and using a standing desk” could “[excite] the likes of Ken Vogel and other conspiracy theorists to delve into how we’re operating.”

Carrk expresses concern that reporters might “dig deeper into the paid speeches” or look into “who is funding the campaign.”

Any mention that she is using her personal money to pay for costs could lead some to use that as an opening to either a) dig deeper into the paid speeches; or b) demand her tax returns to know who is funding the campaign.

I don’t know how likely that is but the press is on a transparency kick. I do remember in 08 after it was announced she put $5 million into the campaign before Super Tuesday, the press wanted WJCs paid speeches and their tax returns. Our answer then was she was using money from her $8 million advance on living history.

No response from Podesta is seen in the emails Wikileaks has released so far.

‘Most Helpful Storylines’

A second email thread from July 31, 2015, shows Clinton’s Director of Speechwriting Dan Schwerin drafting a plan to roll out Clinton’s tax records and a letter from her physician Lisa Bardack. An attachment on this email provides questions and answers for the released tax returns — with many anticipated areas of scrutiny.

Schwerin proposes giving establishment news outlets some embargoed information on the physician’s letter, writing: “We expect the stories that pop at 2 pm to have headlines such as ‘CLINTON IN ‘EXCELLENT HEALTH,’ MEDICAL RECORDS SAY’ … ‘CLINTON RELEASES HEALTH REPORT’ … ‘CLINTON CAMP AIMS TO ONE-UP BUSH IN DISCLOSING FINANCES’.”

He says that once reporters do a deeper dive on Clinton’s tax releases, they may write more negative headlines, but the campaign’s proactive disclosure strategy will have given them the “best possible, ‘fighting’ chance of promoting the most helpful” narratives.

[B]ased on the framing performed in the earlier rounds of stories, we will have given ourselves the best possible, “fighting” chance of promoting the most helpful storylines (i.e., the superlative of being the first candidate to release her health records, the Clintons’ high effective tax rate, their call for a more progressive tax code that asks wealthy individuals like themselves to pay more, the heightened transparency of HRC’s tax returns as compared to Jeb’s, etc).

Podesta asks Mills for a copy of the doctor’s letter; this attachment is not yet seen in the emails Wikileaks has released.


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