Some of Hillary Clinton’s top advisers were in the dark about the scope and depth of her controversial email system as the scandal broke in March 2015, with even her now-campaign manager professing ignorance about the private system at the time, according to emails released Thursday by WikiLeaks.
One close ally, Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden, was still fuming months later, pressing now-Campaign Chairman John Podesta on who gave Clinton permission to use the system.
"Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered?" Tanden wrote in July. “Like whole thing is f---ing insane.”
The tenor of the emails belies the assuring tone Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and her campaign took as they publicly downplayed the controversy in the months after it broke. The emails showing Hillaryland’s initial reaction to the news were discovered in a batch of more than 33,000 hacked from Podesta’s account and subsequently posted to anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.
While some of Clinton’s closest aides, particularly those who worked with her at the State Department, such as Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, appeared to be well aware and deeply involved in her email setup, others apparently were not.
On March 2, Podesta wrote to current Campaign Manager Robby Mook asking if Mook had “any idea of the depth of this story?”
"Nope. We brought up the existence of emails in research this summer but were told that everything was taken care of," Mook wrote back at 1:32 a.m. on March 3.
Podesta also wrote to Tanden airing his concerns on March 2, the day the story about Clinton’s private email account broke.
“Speaking of transparency, our friends [attorney David] Kendall, Cheryl and Phillipe [Reines] sure weren’t forthcoming on the facts here,” Podesta wrote.
Tanden replied, implying that keeping the email setup a secret was likely Mills’ doing.
“This is a Cheryl special,” Tanden wrote. “Know you love her, but this stuff is like her Achilles heel. Or kryptonite. She just can’t say no to this s---. Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy.”
Tanden added: “I guess I know the answer they wanted to get away with it.”
Six months later, Tanden still appeared upset at Clinton, writing to Podesta after Clinton gave an interview on Sept. 4 that the former secretary of state still owed the American people an apology.
“Everyone wants her to apologize. And she should,” Tanden wrote in September 2015. “Apologies are like her Achilles heel. But she didn’t seem like a b---- in the interview. And she said the word sorry. She will get to a full apology in a few interviews.”