Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE’s advisers are ramping up attacks on WikiLeaks and the Russian government over a damaging email hack, lashing out at Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE and the media for failing to treat the breach as a threat to national security.
The Clinton campaign gathered its top national security advisers for a blistering conference call with reporters on Friday, framing the email dump as a provocative cyber-attack by foreign adversaries with ties to terror groups.
The advisers described the hacks as unprecedented interference in the U.S. election that threatens the nation’s sovereignty, and warned there would be “consequences” for the hackers and potentially the “Russian state actors” supporting them.
The campaign lashed out at Trump, arguing he is encouraging the behavior. They questioned whether he and his advisers, driven by their own foreign business interests, have conspired to aid the Russians.
And Clinton’s allies fumed at the media’s coverage of the leaked emails, saying the focus has been on trivial political minutia rather than the national security implications.
“I’m not saying this as a Democrat or a Republican. I’m not saying this as someone who has endorsed Hillary Clinton. I’m saying this as someone who cares deeply about our national security,” said former CIA acting director Mike Morell. “I’m simply enraged by these Russian hacks.”
WikiLeaks, led by founder Julian Assange, a fierce Clinton critic, has been publishing batches of emails stolen from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Between now and Election Day, WikiLeaks is expected to release up to 40,000 more emails, in what appears to be a bid to undermine Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The intelligence community has said the Russians are behind the hack. The FBI is investigating the extent to which Moscow may have been involved.
The emails have been catnip for Washington insiders, giving an unvarnished glimpse inside Clinton’s inner circle and the day-to-day activities of her political machine.
But there have also been several potentially damaging revelations that Trump has vowed to make the centerpiece of his campaign in the final weeks before the election.
Clinton was revealed to have said she has different views on certain issues depending on whether she’s in “public or private;” something she struggled to account for at the last debate.
In a private speech given to a Wall Street banks, Clinton apparently touted her support for “open borders.”
One exchange appeared to show now-Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile tipping Clinton off to a question ahead of a debate against Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants MORE, although Brazile has denied that happened.
And one of Clinton’s top advisers, Jennifer Palmieri, has been criticized for an email disparaging Catholics and Christians.
The Clinton campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the emails and has sought to cast doubt on the exchanges by insinuating that the hackers and WikiLeaks may have doctored the contents.
Now, they’re ramping up pressure on all of the involved parties, including the press, warning that the hack represents a grave threat to U.S. interests and should not be exploited for political purposes.
“It shakes me to my core,” Morell said. “This is a direct assault on our democracy. It’s a direct assault on how we choose our leaders. And quite frankly, I can’t think of a more serious issue at the moment than Russia trying to interfere in our election.”
The Clinton campaign is using the emails to hammer Trump, accusing him of “using Moscow talking points;” of encouraging further attacks by reading WikiLeaks releases at rallies; and of sewing disunity among U.S. allies as an “unwitting ally” of Putin.
Clinton’s advisers are suggesting that Trump has gone easy on Putin because of his business interests in the region, and have warned that if elected president, he would exploit his relationship with Russian leaders for personal financial gain.
And they alleged that Trump’s allies, like former campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime ally Roger Stone, “may have relationships” with the Russians and could be involved in “getting this material out.”
“It is hard for me to even understand how someone who is a aspiring to be president would encourage these types of attacks, which are so unprecedented in terms of our democracy,” said Matt Olsen, a Clinton supporter and the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
The Clinton campaign is leaning on the media for its coverage of the emails, saying their focus needs to be redirected from the political impact and the insider gossip to the “geo-strategic” implications.
“What’s frustrating to me as someone involved with the media over the years — each little detail gets out in the press but the whole story, all these little pieces of the puzzle, are not put together in a way that educates the American people about the significance of this act of cyber-sabotage,” said Jamie Rubin, a national security adviser to Clinton.
So far, the emails have been overshadowed by the mounting accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump.
But the Clinton campaign is worried about the contents of future releases, and furiously pushing back at reports of new details from email threads they say provide only partial information or have been mischaracterized by their political rivals or the press.
“We have to have Donald Trump condemn the cyber sabotage conducted by Russia,” said Rubin. “At a minimum, we have to have information about the extent to which his people worked with or not, the Russian organizations. And we have to have information about the extent to which the Trump organization has business interests in Russia that could be affected.”