Hillary Clinton’s top aides privately debated whether to joke about her emerging email scandal, if they should shift some blame to former secretaries of state and how to frame, explain and defend her use of a homebrewed server in a series of purported March 2015 emails revealed by WikiLeaks this week.
The emails, which originated on the Gmail account of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, paint a portrait of a political team alternately worried and defiant in the face of their boss’ mushrooming email disclosure. Through the early days of the email revelations, and even throughout the summer as further discoveries turned up the heat, Clinton’s group sweated the minutiae of her carefully crafted responses in an attempt to keep the campaign’s preferred narrative on track.
As the scandal evolved during the summer of 2015, aides suddenly had to combat reports that classified information may have been emailed, leading Clinton to eventually modify her original denials to say she had never “sent nor received any email that was marked classified.” On Aug. 21, her team was debating a new statement addressing the issue. Press secretary Brian Fallon emailed communications director Jennifer Palmieri to flag a potential issue.