Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers were unsure of her position on trade, according to recently released hacked emails.
A Democratic National Committee employee emailed Clinton’s staff in late February 2015 asking if the former secretary of state wanted to be included in a letter signed by former cabinet officials.
"There's a letter being drafted that will be signed by former cabinet officials, both D [Democrat] and R [Republican], in support of trade," wrote David Simas. "We've made sure that it isn't a letter that would be specific to just Secretaries of State, for example, but would include multiple agencies."
"Let me know how you would like to proceed and who the right person to engage on this issue," Simas said.
Robby Mook, who is now Clinton’s campaign manager, relayed the message to John Podesta, adding he did not know where Clinton stood on trade.
"I can't recall where we landed exactly on trade," Mook said. "Is she going to say she supports it?"
"Regardless of her position, signing a letter feels like poking the bear with labor to me," he said.
Podesta, who is Clinton’s campaign chairman, told Mook to avoid the issue altogether.
"I'd try to stay off this," Podesta said.
Clinton’s position on trade has been an issue for her campaign after she flip-flopped on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Clinton called the deal the "gold standard" while secretary of state, but announced her opposition to it during the Democratic primary under pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.). Republican nominee Donald Trump also opposes the deal.
The email exchange was posted online by Wikileaks. The U.S. director of national intelligence and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security have accused "Russia’s senior-most officials" of hacking and leaking emails posted to Wikileaks and other sites in order to influence the 2016 election.