President Obama’s declaration that he first learned of Hillary Clinton’s private email server via the news media prompted Clinton’s staff to press for a quick “clean up,” according newly released John Podesta emails from WikiLeaks.
“We need to clean this up – he has emails from her – they do not say state.gov,” longtime Clinton adviser Cheryl Mills wrote in an email to Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday mimicked Obama’s claim to a lack of knowledge.
“I have no knowledge of it! I don’t know!” he mugged.
“This guy! He’s as bad as she is!” he said.
The London Daily Mail explained WikiLeaks published an email chain that “showed Clinton’s senior aide knew Obama had received emails from the private address she used to conduct government business.”
“The president, however, claimed he learned about its existence in news reports.”
The paper said the email, one of thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, “memorializes campaign insiders’ surprise when the president played dumb during a CBS News interview.”
The hacked emails reveal Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin contacting communications director Jennifer Palmieri on March 7, 2015.
“It looks like POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it in the news.”
The report said traveling press secretary Nick Merrill forwarded the message to Mills, who ran it up the flagpole to Podesta.
It was CBS News correspondent Bill Plante who asked Obama when he learned of the off-the-books system.
“The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports,” Obama claimed.
Watch the CBS News interview with Obama here:
However, Mills revealed that Obama already had seen the clintonemail.com address.
Trump said, “That means Obama is now into the act.”
“And now I understand that despite his hatred of the Clintons – ’cause I know one thing, Bill hates him! – but despite his hatred, now I understand why he pushed her,” Trump said.
“Because he didn’t want to be caught up in the big lie.”
The report said the “clean up” was launched by Josh Earnest in the White House, who admitted Obama had the private information but hinted “the president never thought it was operated without government oversight.”
“He was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up, ” Earnest claimed, “or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act.”
The New York Times noted Republicans already had been arguing that the Obama camp was coordinating with Clinton to “limit” the damage from the email issue.
“Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, declined to comment on Ms. Mills’s email to Mr. Podesta, just as the campaign has declined to discuss any of the tens of thousands of internal campaign-related emails that have been released by WikiLeaks over the last month,” the Times said.
The Times continued: “The president’s spokesman (Earnest) said Tuesday that Mr. Obama’s original comment that he had not known about the private email server was accurate. ‘I recognize that some of the president’s critics have attempted to construct some type of conspiracy about the communication between the president and the secretary of state, but they’ve failed to put forward a conspiracy that withstands any scrutiny.'”
The FBI ultimately decided that while Clinton’s actions were extremely careless, it wouldn’t recommended criminal charges against her. The decision was questioned yet again this week with the release of information that a Clinton associate contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign of the wife of the FBI supervisor who ultimately led the investigation.
The Times, however, discounted the significance, explaining that it just reveals “the kind of stagecraft and damage control that go on behind the scenes of a modern political campaign.”