Leaked emails: Zuckerberg wanted to pick Podesta’s brain on immigration

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According to leaked emails, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to learn how to “move the needle” on policy issues, including immigration, from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. 

“He’s begun to think about whether/how he might want to shape advocacy efforts to support his philanthropic priorities and is particularly interested in meeting people who could help him understand how to move the needle on the specific public policy issues he cares most about,” Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, said in an email to John Podesta, who leads the Democratic nominee’s White House bid.

{mosads}“He wants to meet folks who can inform his understanding about effective political operations to advance public policy goals on social oriented objectives (like immigration, education or basic scientific research).”

The request was included in the latest tranches of hacked emails released by WikiLeaks. It is unclear whether a meeting between the two men ever occurred.

A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment.

Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin said it will not verify the authenticity of individual emails but said, referring to the hacks broadly, in a statement that “[Republican nominee] Donald Trump is cheering on a Russian attempt to influence our election through a crime reminiscent of Watergate but on a more massive scale.”

Law enforcement officials reportedly suspect Russian intelligence in the hack of Podesta’s emails. 

The request opens a small window into Zuckerberg’s interest in politics and policy. He has previously publicly backed immigration reform advocacy and donated to candidates from both parties.

Sandberg said in her August email that she couldn’t “imagine you have any free time at all, but in case you do on this trip to the Bay area or another, wondering if you would be willing to spend some time with Mark Zuckerberg.” She also said “we will all understand” if the meeting had to be delayed until after the end of the campaign.

“Happy to do,” Podesta responded. “My schedule is a little squeezed on this trip probably my best times are Wednesday evening or late afternoon Thursday, but I’m back often and could get on his schedule in a more reasonable way.”

Another Facebook employee later offered to schedule an hourlong afternoon meeting for the two men.

Facebook has become increasingly involved in the political process and sponsored some of the general election presidential debates.

At times, however, it has faced charges of having a left-leaning bias. Earlier this year, Facebook officials met with conservatives after allegations that curators for its “trending” feature had downplayed news stories and sources popular with the right.

Zuckerberg has not endorsed a presidential candidate. It is not uncommon for the CEO to meet with elected officials around the world.

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