April 23, 2015: A Clinton aide outlines a strategy to encourage Donald Trump and two other “Pied Piper” candidates to help Clinton win.

Marissa Astor (Credit: Twitter)

Marissa Astor (Credit: Twitter)

Marissa Astor, assistant to Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, sends an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and other Clinton aides. It includes an attached memo on strategies to help Clinton to win the 2016 presidential election. It lists three main strategies:

“Force all Republican candidates to lock themselves in to extreme conservative positions that will hurt them in a general election.”

“Undermine any credibility/trust Republican presidential candidates have to make inroads to our coalition or independents.”

“Muddy the waters on any potential attack lodged against [Clinton].”

Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Dr. Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz hold their hands over their hearts for the singing of the U.S. national anthem before the start of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada December 15, 2015. (Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters)

Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz pose for the national anthem before the start of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 15, 2015. (Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters)

The memo then has a section on “Pied Piper Candidates.” It states: “There are two ways to approach the strategies mentioned above. The first is to use the field as a whole to inflict damage on itself similar to what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012. The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party. Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson. We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to them seriously.” (WikiLeaks, 10/7/2016)

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016.  It is unclear if Astor writes the attached memo or is just passing it on.

April 23, 2015: Petraeus is given a remarkably lenient plea bargain despite his serious security violations.

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

A federal judge sentences former CIA director and general David Petraeus to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine for giving his biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell, access to notebooks, classified information about official meetings, war strategy, and intelligence capabilities. Petraeus had been the CIA director from 2011 to 2012, but he was forced to quit due to the scandal. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015) 

The FBI seeks jail time for him, but doesn’t get it due to the plea bargain with the Justice Department. The New York Times will later report that FBI Director James Comey made the case to Attorney General Eric Holder that “Mr. Petraeus deserved to face strenuous charges. But the Justice Department overruled the FBI, and the department allowed Mr. Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.” (The New York Times, 10/16/2015) The sentence is considered surprisingly light, given the evidence.

In 2016, the Washington Post will report, “FBI officials were angered by the deal and predicted it would affect the outcome of other cases involving classified information.” One former US law enforcement official will complain the deal “was handled so lightly for his offense there isn’t a whole lot you can do.” (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016)