NEW YORK – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign declined on Friday to address quotes purportedly to be from private paid speeches she delivered to Wall Street banks, renewing questions about her transparency on the topics discussed at events that earned her hefty sums.
The quotes are in one of the 2,000 e-mails published Friday by WikiLeaks that the group described as having been hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account. Wikileaks, Podesta and the Clinton campaign declined to respond to repeated requests for comments about either the origin or veracity of the comments.
In the quotes, identified by Clinton aides for their potential political risk, she voiced support for “open trade and open borders” and discussed being “kind of far removed” from middle-class life. Clinton, who has long struggled to be seen as trustworthy by voters, also spoke about what she saw as the need to have “both a public and a private position” in politics to make deals and said that, for political reasons, Wall Street should be held accountable for the 2008 financial crisis.
The e-mail appears to have been sent in January 2016 by Tony Carrk, the campaign’s research director, to Podesta and the campaign’s top communications aides. Carrk describes the quotes as “flags” identified by his team after pouring over speech transcripts provided by Harry Walker Agency, which represented her during the two years between her departure from the State Department and the start of her presidential campaign in April 2015.
“We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton,” spokesman Glen Caplin said in a prepared statement. Previous releases have “already proven the warnings of top national security officials that documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign.”
The material became public on the same day the Washington Post released a recording of her Republican rival Donald Trump talk about groping women and other crude, sexually aggressive comments. In the recording, the Republican presidential nominee speaks of trying and failing to seduce a married woman during a conversation with Billy Bush, a television host, that took place before they taped a segment for “Access Hollywood.”
While not as lurid as the Trump tape, Clinton’s purported comments about embracing free trade and open boarders are sure to provide fodder for Trump to use during Sunday’s second presidential debate, an edge he will need after his widely criticized performance during their first match up Sept. 26.
“Now we finally get confirmation of Clinton’s catastrophic plans for completely open borders and diminishing America’s influence in the world,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller. “There is a reason Clinton gave these high-paid speeches in secret behind closed doors — her real intentions will destroy American sovereignty as we know it, further illustrating why Hillary Clinton is simply unfit to be president.”
Trump has hammered the issues for months, blaming trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement for the loss of thousands of middle-class manufacturing jobs, and undocumented immigrants for crime and a decline in law and order.
Clinton faced pressure during the Democratic primary from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to release transcripts of her private speeches to banks and other financial firms as he argued that voters should know what Clinton was willing to say to groups that had given her six-figure paychecks that she wouldn’t say to the public.
“Whatever Secretary Clinton may or may not have said behind closed doors on Wall Street, I am determined to implement the agenda of the Democratic Party platform which was agreed to by her campaign,” Sanders said in a statement reported by NBC News. “Among other things, that agenda calls for breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country, re-establishing Glass Steagall and prosecuting those many Wall Street CEOs who engaged in illegal behavior.”
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