(…) Clinton’s team scrambled in the spring of 2015 to reaction to allegations made about the Clinton Foundation in “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
Emails show an elaborate response plan, even debuting a rapid-response website for grassroots supporters to get talking points.
“The biggest question for this group is if and how HRC engages on Clinton Cash this week and what are the ‘two lines’ she would deliver,” Jake Sullivan wrote on May 3 to 10 top aides, including Jennifer Palmieri, Robby Mook, Mandy Grunwald, Joel Benenson, and Jim Margolis. Benenson responded with a few lines for Clinton to say about the foundation’s “life-saving work around the world.”
“The notion that that anyone donating to the foundation was going to influence me in my job is absurd,” Benenson suggested Clinton say, to which Margolis suggested, adding “and never happened.”
Of the rapid-response website, Sullivan wrote, “John [Podesta] and I discussed yesterday and think it is important that supporters and press know that we will deal aggressively with unfair attacks, but our real focus and hers is her proactive vision. Important that we do not appear beleaguered.”
In April, the team looked for ways to have reporters thoroughly debunk “Clinton Cash” before its release. “Amy Chozick from the NYT called us to indicate she had obtained a copy of the book on her own and intends to file a separate story tomorrow. Her story will not unpack all of the book’s claims … she will do a more process-y story about the book’s existence, the fact that the publisher has approached multiple media outlets in advance of the book’s publication to spoon-feed them some of the book’s research,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon wrote to other Clinton advisers.
He added, “We think this story, though it was not originated by us, could end up being somewhat helpful in casting the book’s author as having a conservative agenda.”
When the author, Peter Schweitzer, stumbled through an awkward interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos — himself a Clinton Foundation donor — the comms team took a victory lap as they sent around the transcript.
“[G]reat work everyone. this interview is perfect. he lands nothing and everything is refuted (mostly based on our work),” wrote spokesman Jesse Ferguson.
“This is therapeutic to watch. George is cool as a cucumber, doesn’t rush into it, but just destroys him slowly but surely over the course of the interview,” chimes in Nick Merrill.” (Read more: Politico, 10/07/2016) (Archive)