January 13, 2015: Clinton’s press secretary has “teed-up stories” for a New York Times reporter before and she has “never disappointed.”

Maggie Haberman (Credit: public domain)

Maggie Haberman (Credit: public domain)

Nick Merrill, Clinton’s campaign press secretary, writes an email memo to Clinton’s other core staffers (including John Podesta and Robby Mook) who are developing a strategy that is described as being “designed to plant stories on Clinton’s decision-making process about whether to run for president.”

The email names Maggie Haberman who at the time writes for Politico, but will switch to covering the election for the New York Times one month later. Merrill writes, “We have ha[d] a very good relationship with Maggie Haberman of Politico over the last year. We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed. … [F]or this we think we can achieve our objective and do the most shaping by going to Maggie.”

According to a later article by the Intercept, “The following month, when she is at the Times, Haberman publishes two stories on Clinton’s vetting process.”

The Intercept will be given this email and others by the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 in October 2016. The Intercept will comment that the email is just one of many “Internal strategy documents and emails among Clinton staffers” that “shed light on friendly and highly useful relationships between the campaign and various members of the US media, as well as the campaign’s strategies for manipulating those relationships. … At times, Clinton’s campaign staff not only internally drafted the stories they wanted published but even specified what should be quoted “on background” and what should be described as “on the record.” (The Intercept, 10/09/2016) (Wikileaks, 10/13/2016)

February 1, 2015: Clinton’s staff asks the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to report Hillary’s economic policies in a “progressive” light.

Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill writes an email to several Clinton staffers, describing two stories the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are preparing to publish that will be covering Clinton’s economic policies.

Nick Merrill holds an umbrella for Clinton, as Jennifer Palmieri looks on, in Ashland, Ohio, on August 1, 2016. (Credit: Andrew Harnick / The Associated Press)

Merrill writes, “Both will have a dose of personnel name-gaming, and I’ve spoken to both to steer them towards progressive names, which they seem to both have on their own. I want to give both stories something on the record that addresses the core of the story, but also speaks some of the things we all felt needed a little proactive addressing, like inevitability and timing.”

Merrill then suggests the core of the stories will be about, “Increasing access to opportunity and fighting for upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers in every job she’s held. You heard it from her on the campaign trail last fall, where she laid out the challenges we face. She’s casting a wide net, talking to a wide range of people on a range of specific topics. There’s no red X on a calendar somewhere, but make no mistake, if she runs, she will take nothing for granted, she’ll present bold ideas, and she will fight for every vote.” (Wikileaks, 10/24/2016)

Amy Chozick (Credit: Google Plus)

Amy Chozick (Credit: Google Plus)

One week later, the New York Times publishes an article by Amy Chozick, entitled “Economic Plan is a Quandry for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” As hoped, the core of the story Merrill mentions in his email is covered in the article and is included as a quote by Bill Clinton’s previous treasury secretary:

“’It’s not enough to address upward mobility without addressing inequality,’ said Lawrence H. Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration who is among those talking with Mrs. Clinton. ‘The challenge, though, is to address inequality without embracing a politics of envy.’”

Chozick then “steers” readers to several other “progressive names” and writes, “Several of Mr. Clinton’s former advisers, including Alan S. Blinder, Robert E. Rubin and Mr. Summers, maintain influence. But Mrs. Clinton has cast a wide net that also includes Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality; Alan B. Krueger, a professor at Princeton and co-author of ‘Inequality in America’; and Peter R. Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist who focuses on retirement issues, is also playing a prominent role.” (New York Times, 2/7/2015)

Laura Meckler (Credit: Tout)

Laura Meckler (Credit: Tout)

A few days after that, The Wall Street Journal publishes an article by Laura Meckler entitled, “Hillary Clinton Economic Plan to Chart Center-Left Course.” The article appears to be less “steered” by the Clinton campaign, it doesn’t include “a dose of personnel name-gaming” and offers a more balanced approach between what the liberal base of the Democratic party hopes for, as opposed to Clinton’s more centrist economic positions. (Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2015)

Because one of the recipients of this email is Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, it will be released by Wikileaks in October 2016.

April 9, 2015: John Podesta hosts an “off the record” dinner for 20 reporters who will be “on the bus” with Clinton’s campaign.

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / Washington Post)

An email written by Clinton’s Deputy Press Secretary Jesse Ferguson is addressed to several Clinton staffers and states, “We wanted to make sure everyone on this email had the latest information on the two upcoming dinners with reporters. Both are off-the-record.”

Ferguson lists the first party to occur on, “April 9th [2015] at 7:00p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).”

The second party is to occur the following evening on, “April 10th at 6:30p.m. Cocktails and Hors D’oeuvre at the Home of Joel Benenson. … This is with a broader universe of New York reporters.”

A total of thirty eight reporters commit to attend one or both of the “off-the-record” parties. The email will be publicly released in October 2016 by WikiLeaks.

A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox. (Wikileaks, 04/06/15) (Wikileaks, 04/09/2015)

April 10, 2015: Clinton’s staff hosts a private “off-the-record” cocktail party with 38 “influential” reporters, anchors, and editors.

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

Jesse Ferguson (Credit: Tom Williams / Congressional Quarterly / Roll Call)

In an April 10, 2015 email, Clinton’s deputy press secretary Jesse Ferguson describes an “off-the-record” cocktail party for “key national reporters, influential reporters, anchors and editors. … Especially (though not exclusively) those that are based in New York.” Top level Clinton staff are also invited. It is to take place one day later in the home of Clinton strategist Joel Benenson, in the Upper East Side of New York City.

The memo also lists the pre-campaign goals Clinton’s staff hopes to achieve by having the cocktail party:

  • Give reporters their first thoughts from team HRC [Clinton] in advance of the announcement
  • Setting expectations for the announcement and launch period
  • Framing the HRC message and framing the race
  •  Enjoy a Friday night drink before working more

Thirty-eight “influential reporters, anchors and editors” are also listed, and agree to attend the party. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

A second email sent on Apil 6, 2015 indicates a second dinner party is also planned for “April 9th at 7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Home of John Podesta. … This will be with about 20 reporters who will closely cover the campaign (aka the bus).” (Wikileaks, 10/16/2016)

A list of media outlets who attend one or both parties are listed as follows: ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, Daily Beast, Glover Park Group, Huffington Post, MORE, MSNBC, NBC, New Yorker, New York Times, People, Politico, Vice and Vox.

These emails will be released by Wikileaks in October, 2016.

April 29, 2015: Politico’s chief political correspondent says to Podesta, “Because I have become a hack, I will send u the whole section that pertains to u.”

Glenn Thrush (Credit: Politico)

Glenn Thrush (Credit: Politico)

Politico’s chief political correspondent and senior staff writer Glenn Thrush emails Clinton campaign chair John Podesta a large portion of a piece he is writing, entitled “Hillary’s Big-Money Dilemma.”

Thrush appears to be asking for Podesta’s approval of a story he is writing about Clinton’s problems with building a small donor base.

Thrush writes to Podesta, “Hey sir— sorry to bother — OTR [off the record] question. Was working on a fundraising story… Been talking to bundlers who told me that one of the reasons you need to get [Clinton] out on the road was simply that the Hillfunders mid-level strategy was[n’t] getting enough traction and you had to mine the old ’08 crowd a little quicker than u thought…  Also – to be a pain in the ass – I’ve heard that u were never entirely on board with the whole ‘flat’ idea in the first place.  Cheers/Thrush”

John Podesta (Credit: Carlo Barria / Reuters)

John Podesta (Credit: Carlo Barria / Reuters)

Podesta replies, “I’m the sultan of flat. My whole pitch is all are welcome and grow the network.”

Thrush then asks Podesta, “Can I send u a couple of grafs [paragraphs], OTR [off the record], to make sure I’m not fucking anything up?”

Podesta replies “sure.”

Thrush writes back, “I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this. Tell me if I fucked up anything.” He includes five paragraphs from the article he is preparing to publish.

The following day, Podesta tells Thrush, “no problems here.” (WikiLeaks, 10/17/2016)

The five paragraphs appear in almost identical form in the final version of the article that is published two days later on May 1, 2015. (Politico, 5/1/2015)

After Thrush’s email is released by WikiLeaks in October 2016, Thrush will be accused of lacking journalistic ethics. On October 17, 2016, he will post the following tweet: “My goal in emailing Podesta: TO GET HIM TO CONFIRM STUFF I HAD FROM LESSER SOURCES. It worked. Nobody controls my stories but me. Troll on!” (Twitter, 10/17/2016)

May 18, 2015: A journalist gives Clinton’s campaign manager extensive advice on how to improve Clinton’s campaign.

Hill columnist Brent Budowsky writes an email with the subject heading “John, be careful” to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta about attacks Clinton opponents will launch during the 2016 race.

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Brent Budowsky (Credit: public domain)

Budowsky writes, “I am not going to raise this publicly, but one of [Clinton’s] opponents will soon charge that she is running an ‘imperial campaign.’ If it is the right opponent, Democrat or Republican, the charge will resonate.”

He suggests that “probably 90 percent of the total media coverage of [Clinton] has a negative slant, from her paid speeches to foundation donations to not answering questions from the press.”

Budowsky also warns, “Her caution on policy has created a news vacuum that is filled by these other stories. While I don’t have the highest regard for most of the campaign press corps, they are getting dangerously unhappy about [Clinton] refusing to answer questions. If we look at a long curve of her numbers, there is reason for serious concern if trends continue, and I see nothing today that will change them unless Clinton changes her strategy,”

He also voices concern that “he’s heard from many, many Democrats and that there is something off-key about her campaign. The hope that Republican candidates are so bad she can win by playing cautious. That is a very dangerous way to run for president.”

Budowsky concludes, “There is a missing element in her campaign and it is troubling. The ‘imperial campaign’ charge will resonate when the right candidate figures it out.”

Podesta responds, “Message heard, although I think caution will ultimately be measured by what she says and what she’s for rather than how many press gaggles she does.”

The email will be released by WikiLeaks in October 2016. (Wikileaks, 10/12/2016)

September 20, 2015: Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, hosts a dinner party for Clinton’s campaign communications director.

Chuck and Kristian Todd arrive for a State Dinner at the White House on October 18, 2016. (Credit: Zach Gibson / Getty Images)

Chuck and Kristian Todd arrive for a State Dinner at the White House on October 18, 2016. (Credit: Zach Gibson / Getty Images)

The political director for NBC News and host of Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, and his wife Kristian Todd, host a dinner party at their home in honor of Clinton’s Campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and her husband Jim Lyons.

On July 11, 2015, two months after Clinton officially announces her bid for the presidency, Kristian Todd sends an email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta that includes a link to a paperless invitation for him and his wife Mary.

It is not known what the occasion for the party is. However, most of the other people on the invitation list of less than a dozen are prominent members of the Clinton campaign, such as Jennifer Palmieri and Josh Earnest, or key aides to President Obama, such as Lisa Monaco or Valerie Jarrett.

The party occurs on September 20, 2015.

This email will be released in October 2016. (Wikileaks, 10/17/2016)

 

January 11, 2016: The Clinton campaign plots a “hit” on a key Bernie Sanders issue with the help of a MSNBC reporter.

Clinton works with Dan Schwerin, director of speechwriting, on a few last-minute changes to her speech before declaring victory in the Democratic presidential primary on June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Barbara Kinney / Politico)

Clinton works with Dan Schwerin, director of speechwriting, on a few last-minute changes to her speech before declaring victory in the Democratic presidential primary on June 7, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. (Credit: Barbara Kinney / Politico)

The Clinton campaign and MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes show All In set up a phone in interview between Hayes and Clinton, with a plan to carry out a “tax hit” on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Emails released by Wikileaks in October 2016 shows the discussion of this plan among Clinton staffers, with the apparent compliance of reporter Chris Hayes to help set the stage.

Clinton campaign speechwriter Dan Schwerin writes the script Clinton will use during the interview, but first runs it by several other campaign staffers, asking for their opinions and suggestions before the final draft is given to Clinton.

Schwerin writes, “[Clinton] is going to call into Chris Hayes’ show this afternoon to do her tax hit. How does this look to you guys?” He includes Clinton’s plan to add “a new ‘fair share surcharge’ on multi-millionaires and closing loopholes to make it harder to game the system.”

Chris Hayes has a call-in interview with Clinton during his show All In, on January 11, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Chris Hayes has a call-in interview with Clinton on January 11, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

When the live interview begins, Chris Hayes poses the question, “Hillary Clinton is expanding her efforts to challenge Bernie Sanders on his signature issue, the economic inequality, and I got a chance to speak earlier with Secretary Clinton and joining me by phone, from Iowa, we discussed everything from  the electability question to what Bernie Sanders said today about her campaign. But I start by asking about her proposed tax hikes for the highest earners.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Clinton responds to Hayes’ question by reading Schwerin’s written script, almost word for word. A video is also provided that highlights the event.

Hayes will then follow up  with an interview of Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, and allows a response to Clinton’s new “fair share surcharge” plan. (MSNBC Transcript, 01/11/2016)

March 12, 2016: Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, appears to leak a debate question to the Clinton campaign in advance.

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Donna Brazile (Credit: Getty Images)

Brazile writes an email to Clinton’s campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. It is CCed to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Podesta’s email account will later be hacked, resulting in the release of the email by WikiLeaks on October 11, 2016. Brazile is also a CNN and ABC contributor at the time. In July 2016, she will be promoted to the interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brazile tells Palmieri, “From time to time I get the questions in advance. Here’s one that worries me about HRC.” Brazile then includes a question that will be asked at a town hall (a format similar to a debate) between Clinton and her main primary opponent Bernie Sanders, scheduled to occur the following day, on March 13, 2016. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and TV One host Roland Martin are to co-moderate the event.

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Jennifer Palmieri (Credit: Gerry Broome / The Associated Press)

Brazile’s question reads: “DEATH PENALTY 19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?”

Palmieri responds in the email, “Hi. Yes, it is one she gets asked about. Not everyone likes her answer but can share it.” (Wikileaks, 10/11/2016)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

Roland Martin (Credit: public domain)

On October 12, 2016, the day after WikiLeaks releases the email, Politico will write about the similarities between the question Brazile wrote and the actual question Roland Martin asked at the town hall. According to the CNN transcript, Martin asked, “Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?”

Politico will write that Martin initially said in an interview that he did not “share my questions with anybody. Literally. My executive producer wasn’t even aware of what I was going to ask.” In a follow up interview, Martin will say that he did send his questions to CNN via his producer and his TV One team. In a third follow up email, Martin will say he did not believe had had consulted with Brazile ahead of the town hall.

Brazile will deny that she notified the Clinton campaign of the proposed question, despite the clear evidence of the leaked email. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did.” (Politico, 10/11/2016)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Jake Tapper (Credit: public domain)

Two days after the leak, CNN anchor Jake Tapper will blast Brazile and TV One host Roland Martin for their apparent involvement in leaking the Democratic town hall question to the Clinton campaign: “It’s very, very troubling… whatever took place here, and I know that I had nothing to do with it, and I know that CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents, you couldn’t even, they weren’t ever emailed around. … We wanted to put her in a tough situation. You [Clinton] support the death penalty and here’s somebody who was almost killed by the death penalty, what’s your reaction to him?… To find out that somebody was unethically helping the Clinton campaign and tipping them off, is just very, very upsetting.” (WMAL, 11/13/2016)