Podesta Ordered Clinton Campaign to 'Dump' Emails After Private Server Was Revealed

CAP founder John Podesta / AP
November 1, 2016

Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, directed her former chief of staff at the State Department to "dump all those emails" on the same day that Clinton's private email server became public.

Hours after the New York Times reported in March 2015 that Clinton may have violated federal records requirements by exclusively using a private server while serving as secretary of state, Podesta emailed Cheryl Mills, Clinton's top aide at the State Department, instructing her to erase Clinton's emails, the New York Post reported.

The exchange from March 2, 2015, was revealed in hacked emails from Podesta's private account that WikiLeaks released Tuesday. The U.S. government has accused Russia of penetrating American political networks to influence the 2016 election.

"Not to sound like Lanny, but we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do so sooner than later," Podesta wrote to Mills.

"Think you just got your new nick name," Mills responded.

With his "Lanny" reference, Podesta apparently was referring to Lanny Davis, a lawyer who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton. While Davis has been a Clinton loyalist and defended Hillary Clinton's actions during the Benghazi investigation in 2014, another WikiLeaks email from March 8, 2015, shows Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook's frustration with him after he publicly called for Clinton to be transparent about her emails.

"We gotta zap Lanny out of our universe," Mook wrote Podesta. "Can't believe he committed her to a private review of her hard drive on TV."

In December 2014, Clinton was forced to release to the FBI approximately 55,000 pages of emails from her tenure at the State Department. However, Clinton's actions were never revealed until the Times reported on the private server, the New York Post reported. Mills was behind the coordination of the email release to the State Department.

On March 10, 2015–a week after the Podesta-Mills exchange–Clinton addressed the email scandal, and announced she had deleted about 30,000 personal emails.

The Clinton campaign has declined to comment on specific WikiLeaks emails or authenticate hacked documents, which U.S. intelligence agencies attribute to the Russian government.

But Democratic allies say Podesta, who was blindsided by the email controversy, was advocating for transparency.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee were loyal to Clinton and defended her actions by referencing Clinton's tweet from March 2015, when she invited the public to look at her emails when they were released by the State Department.

Donald Trump has attacked Clinton on transparency issues and her private email server over the course of his campaign. He has specifically mocked Clinton for the 33,000 missing emails that she claimed were "personal." The Washington Free Beacon previously reported on a Virginia rally during which Trump went after Clinton's missing emails.

He said at his Virginia rally that Clinton had previously said that those emails mainly had to do with her daughter Chelsea's wedding and yoga classes.

"Remember she said, I think it was for her wedding, the wedding of Chelsea, it was for yoga classes," Trump said. "Thirty-three thousand emails."

He scoffed.

"That's a lot of yoga," he said. "That's a lot of yoga."