Finally, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, and head of The Podesta Group, one of the largest lobbying and "public affairs" firms in the United States world, with a reported income from lobbying efforts in the United States alone in 2014 just short of $12 Million, has deigned to answer questions from the media regarding the release of selected emails from his account by Wikileaks.
What he had to say isn't surprising, but his comments are both nonetheless audacious and mendacious, in equal measure. From The New York Times:
“I’ve been involved in politics for nearly five decades,” Mr. Podesta told reporters aboard the Clinton campaign plane. “This definitely is the first campaign that I’ve been involved with in which I’ve had to tangle with Russian intelligence agencies,” he added, “who seem to be doing everything that they can on behalf of our opponent.”
Without verifying the authenticity of the emails, Mr. Podesta said that he had spoken with the F.B.I. “as a victim” of hacking. The Obama administration, like Mr. Podesta, believes the Russian government has been trying to help Mr. Trump with its hacking, including the theft of emails of the Democratic National Committee this year.
Mr. Podesta said Mr. Trump had “essentially adopted lock, stock and barrel” a foreign policy that would favor the interests of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Let me parse his remarks for you, just to make it clear exactly what John Podesta said and didn't say. He didn't verify the "authenticity of the emails" that have been released. In effect, he is refusing to confirm that anything in the ongoing database dump by Wikileaks is accurate in any respect. Yet, on the other hand, he claims to have spoken to the FBI "as a victim of hacking." Yes, that's right, he want to be seen as a victim without having to admit that emails are true and accurate copies of his emails. That takes a lot of cojones, my friends.
It's also a classic misdirection and distraction technique practiced by public relations firms and propagandists to bury the lead when you are accused of wrongful acts. In short, at all costs do not respond to any questions about the substance of the scandal that has been revealed, all the while beating one's chest loudly proclaiming that you are the real victim in this case. It's a textbook example of the "distraction principle" at work.
Not only does Podesta, and by extension Hillary Clinton, claim to be the victim, he has a ready made scapegoat at hand, one that many Americans, particularly those who grew up during the Cold War era are inclined to distrust: Russia. Specifically, he points the finger at the Russian Security Services as the hackers behind the release of these emails, though whether they are "real" or "fake" he refuses to say. But he goes farther than merely "blaming" the Russians. He deliberately, and without stating any hard evidence for his claim, declares that it is a fact Russia and it's President is attempting to influence the election on behalf of Donald Trump, and thus undermine our democracy.
"Russian interference in this election and apparently on behalf of Trump is, I think, of the utmost concern to all Americans, whether you’re a Democrat or independent or Republican," Podesta said.
Indeed, he directly ties Trump to Putin and Russia, by not so subtly implying that they are allies, and that Trump is doing Putin's bidding when he claims that Trump has "essentially adopted lock, stock and barrel” a foreign policy favorable to Putin. This is a classic example of the scapegoating technique. He effectively calls Trump a dupe at best, and a a traitor working for foreign agent, at worst.
In short, the major story about his released emails has nothing to do with the sleazy and unsavory actions of the Clinton campaign at all. According to Podesta, all the Wikileaks disclosures represent are a deliberate attempt by a foreign power to subvert our democracy. The facts that Wikileaks denies the Russians are its source for these leaks, or that the released emails are extremely damaging to Hillary Clinton, are simply ignored by Podesta. He puts all his efforts into creating an imaginative" tale that makes Trump, Putin and Julian Assange co-conspirators out to ruin our American way of life. From The Washington Post:
Podesta said that it would be "reasonable" to assume that the Trump campaign knew that WikiLeaks would release his email. He pointed to comments earlier this year by Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate and former adviser to the campaign, that he had been in contact with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. [...]
Podesta pointed to ties to Russia among Trump advisers, including Stone, and suggested there is a concerted effort to use Russian intelligence, surveillance or computer-hacking abilities to disrupt the U.S. election.
"Why would there be this active engagement by the Russians in the DNC and other Democratic organizations, [and] into my private email account? Well, I think you could start by looking at the positions that Mr. Trump has taken during the course of this campaign," Podesta said. "Ones that are more consistent with Russian foreign policy than with U.S. foreign policy."
He cited Trump's suggestion that he would not necessarily abide by the mutual defense clause of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which obligates military action on behalf of one member by the others. It is a foundation of the military alliance and probably the element that Russia most opposes.
Let's be very specific. First, in no instance does Podesta accept blame, on his own behalf or on the behalf of Hillary Clinton, for the revelations exposed in Wikileaks release. Indeed, he does his best to draw our attention away from any examination about the revelations in those emails: massive corruption in the Democratic Party, including, without limitation, the rigging of the Democratic nomination on behalf of his "client" through the coordinated efforts of high level operatives in the national media, the DNC, Clinton's Super Pacs and Hillary's campaign. He reinforces the narrative being advanced more openly by other Clinton surrogates and attack dogs that the emails contain forgeries and are faked.
Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in an email that, “Earlier today the U.S. government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy.”
He added, “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. Guccifer 2.0 has already proven the warnings of top national security officials that documents can be faked as part of a sophisticated Russian misinformation campaign.”
And the media is letting them get away with it, whether out of sheer laziness or through intentional sins of omission or commissions, who can say?
Second, Podesta never says that the FBI accepted the claim that Russia is behind the Wikileaks disclosures. He only mentions the FBI as the agency to whom he reported this outrageous hacking crime. What he does do is speak of Russian involvement as a known fact, though he provides no evidence for that allegation.
Then again, at this point the "Russian" narrative has been pounded into the public's mind by the media's wholesale acceptance of the Clinton campaign's talking points. Indeed, the media has been running with the Clinton story that the Russians are behind every leak since the initial DNC Wikileaks email releases earlier this year. It's become a "known known," as far as the media is concerned. Therefore, Podesta doesn't really need to provide any proof. The media coverage has consistently emphasized the "Russia did it" story for so long, that they never even consider asking him about the lack of any tangible evidence to support that narrative. Indeed, the NY Times article buttresses his argument when it asserts blankly that:
The Obama administration, like Mr. Podesta, believes the Russian government has been trying to help Mr. Trump with its hacking, including the theft of emails of the Democratic National Committee this year.
We're being played for suckers, my friends, by Podesta, by the Democrats and by the national media. Which isn't surprising, considering the Podesta emails themselves have revealed an unprecedented coordination between the Clinton campaign and major media outlets, reporters and pundits. The irony in all this is that Podesta's own firm has represented numerous human right violators around the globe, from Azerbaijan to Saudi Arabia, and, yes, Russia.
Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Eastern Europe, hired the Podesta Group to help powder up its public image, The Observer reports. [...]
In March, the Podesta Group registered with the U.S. government as a lobbyist for Sberbank.
The bank plays an enormous role in the Russian economy. It controls almost 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets, employs a quarter-million people and “is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution,” The Observer notes.
I'd like to think that there is a special place reserved in hell for slimy opportunists like John Podesta and the Clintons. Hopefully, one many, many levels lower than the one reserved for young women who won't automatically support Hillary.