Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin pressed campaign staff to consider whether the Democratic nominee could "survive" avoiding questions from the press during the first stage of her candidacy, according to newly released WikiLeaks emails.
"Can we survive not answering questions from press at message events[?]" Abedin wrote in a May 2015 exchange, Politico reported. "Her [David Dinkins Forum] speech and immigration message broke through because we didn’t take questions. Her community banks message got lost because she answered questions about the foundation and emails."
Abedin said Clinton should wait until the fall to begin participating in "avails at message events, interviews, and q and a with press," but noted the campaign should maintain "a series of policy proposals already announced and reported on that she could point to."
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta pushed back against Abedin’s suggestion, calling it "suicidal."
"If she thinks we can get to Labor Day without taking press questions, I think that’s suicidal," Podesta wrote. "We have to find some mechanism to let the stream out of the pressure cooker."
WikiLeaks released thousands of documents from Podesta’s email account this week, just days after the U.S. government on Friday formally accused the Russian government of hacking into political networks to influence the 2016 election.
Clinton has repeatedly come under fire from reporters for avoiding formal press conferences throughout her campaign that would allow journalists to ask the Democratic nominee a question on any topic.
Up until September, she had gone 275 days without holding a single press conference.