Trump Lawyer's 'Drawn and Quartered' Threat Ripped From Neera Tanden Playbook

CAP President Neera Tanden speaks to the Democracy Alliance
December 1, 2020

A Trump campaign lawyer's widely condemned remark that a former Department of Homeland Security official should be "drawn and quartered" appears to be lifted from the playbook of longtime Democratic operative Neera Tanden, who suggested the same punishment for aides to Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

Tanden, President-elect Joe Biden's choice to lead the powerful Office of Management and Budget, suggested in 2015 that whoever told Clinton that it was acceptable to set up a private email server be "drawn and quartered," according to emails obtained by WikiLeaks.

"Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered?" Tanden wrote in an email to John Podesta, the campaign chairman for Clinton's failed presidential bid. Tanden reiterated her call for the punishment in a subsequent email, noting the "power of torture."

"I repeat, why hasn't this person been drawn and quartered?" Tanden wrote to Podesta. "I'm reading wolf hall. There is something to be said for the power of torture."

Emails sent from Neera Tanden to John Podesta obtained by WikiLeaks

Wolf Hall is a historical fiction novel about Tudor-era England, when dismemberment by tying limbs to horses was a common punishment for traitors.

The remark from Tanden, a loyal Democratic Party operative, could be a barrier to her chances of being confirmed to a cabinet post in the Biden administration. Her attacks against Republican senators all but ensure she stands no chance of winning approval should Republicans maintain control of the Senate. 

"The Senate doesn't generally confirm partisan operatives who've made their career attacking half of its members," one longtime Senate Republican strategist told the Free Beacon.

It remains unclear who advised Clinton that it was proper for her to set up a private email server to use while acting as secretary of state in the Obama administration. A report from the agency's inspector general found that Clinton never sought approval for the email system from the State Department, and would not have received it if she did.

Trump campaign lawyer Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, on Monday said that Chris Krebs, a former DHS official charged with maintaining election security who spoke out against President Trump's claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential race, should be "drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot." DiGenova's remark was widely condemned, including by the White House communications director.

Krebs is considering legal action against diGenova, who says his remark was "obviously sarcasm meant in jest."