Oct. 11, 2016 4:46 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Newly released emails show Hillary Clinton’s political team dealing with potential fallout over her use of a private email server by communicating with government agencies, enlisting help of congressional allies and managing public statements about the matter.
Hacked emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were posted by the website WikiLeaks this week, showing her staff candidly debating the tone and substance of responses to media after the disclosure of her use of a private email server while leading the State Department.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign hasn’t confirmed or denied the authenticity of the email trove posted by WikiLeaks, but a campaign spokesman said the release of apparently stolen internal communications showcases Russian attempts to interfere in the U.S. election on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s Republican rival, Donald Trump. U.S. intelligence agencies have publicly accused Russia of directing hacks and leaks aimed at top Democratic Party officials, but they haven’t reached a conclusion in the specific breach of Mr. Podesta’s emails.–
“The timing shows you that even Putin knows Trump had a bad weekend and a bad debate. The only remaining question is why Donald Trump continues to make apologies for the Russians,” said campaign spokesman Glen Caplin. The campaign declined to comment further.
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In several electronic exchanges, Mrs. Clinton’s staff appeared to be in communication with government officials about the email issue. The Obama administration has acknowledged some communication with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign staff, given that the emails involved government records and eventually a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe that was closed with a recommendation against the prosecution of Mrs. Clinton or her team.
In one thread, campaign spokesman Brian Fallon appears to have been in touch with the Justice Department about a case involving the release of Mrs. Clinton’s emails to the public. Mr. Fallon worked at Justice before joining the Clinton campaign in 2015.
“DOJ folks inform me there is a status hearing in this case this morning, so we could have a window into the judge’s thinking about this proposed production schedule as quickly as today,” Mr. Fallon wrote to his colleagues on the campaign.
The information Mr. Fallon shared with his campaign colleagues about the lawsuit was in the public domain at the time. It concerned a lawsuit brought by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold against the State Department. Justice Department attorneys were representing their colleagues at State in the matter.
In another case, an attorney for Mrs. Clinton appeared to know the contents of a State Department document release concerning speeches by former President Bill Clinton before it was made public. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the agency “does not comment on alleged leaked documents,” but that it is common practice for the department to contact any organization or person whose proprietary or personal information might be involved in a Freedom of Information Act release.
The Clinton attorney, Heather Samuelson, provided a detailed accounting of the speeches discussed in documents that were to be released by State. She also reported how much the former president, who commanded six-figure sums for his speaking engagements, was paid.
“There is one request where speaking fee would have been paid by Turkish govt—WJC’s office declined this,” Ms. Samuelson wrote, referring to Mr. Clinton. “And one speaking engagement with fee from Canadian government, which he did do.”
In another exchange among the leaked Podesta emails, senior campaign aides put the finishing touches on a tweet that would go out under Mrs. Clinton’s name. Philippe Reines, a former Senate and State Department aide, sent an email detailing what would be become Mrs. Clinton’s tweet. The wording, he wrote, had been “cleared with State” and was “HRC approved.”
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was also in touch with at least two Senate Democrats, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dianne Feinstein of California, as the campaign worked to quell a controversy about classified email discovered in Mrs. Clinton’s inbox.
“Talked to Leahy’s CoS [chief of staff] yesterday who says that they are working on another letter to State asking about over classification. He didn’t have a ton of details. Sounds like they are working with Feinstein,” one of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign staffers wrote to colleagues.
In other instances, Mrs. Clinton’s staff debated the tone of the campaign’s response and whether humor was politically risky. In one exchange, communications director Jennifer Palmieri floated the idea of Mrs. Clinton “making a joke about the email situation at the Emily’s List dinner tonight,” referring to a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women.
“We don’t know what’s in the emails, so we are nervous about this,” said Mandy Grunwald, a media consultant to the campaign. “Might get a big laugh tonight and regret it when content of emails is disclosed.”
—Rebecca Ballhaus, Peter Nicholas, Michelle Hackman and Allison Kite contributed to this article.
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Tags: Brian Fallon, classified information, content of emails, Donald Trump, government corruption, government cover up, Heather Samuelson, Hillary Clinton Campaign, Hillary Clinton’s Email, Jennifer Palmieri, Justice Department, Justice Department attorneys, Obama Administration, private email server, Putin, SCI, speaking engagements, speaking fees, top-secret, WikiLeaks