A Peek Into the Clinton Campaign in Damage Control Mode, From the Podesta Emails

When Hillary Clinton came under attack last February for her 2001 vote in favor of a bankruptcy bill that made it more difficult for poor people to discharge their debts, she defended herself by saying she did it for women and children.

During an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week”, Clinton was confronted with a 2004 Bill Moyers video interview with then-consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, in which she explained that she had personally briefed Clinton on the bankruptcy bill but that large financial contributions from the credit card industry had helped sway the senator in favor of it.

Clinton responded by saying her vote was part of a process of strengthening the bill for women and children. “I faced a tough decision and I stood up for women and children,”she said.

“I was deluged by women’s groups and children’s advocates groups to do everything I could to make sure that child support and women’s precarious financial situation in case of divorce or not being able to get the kind of funding they needed from a partner or a spouse in bankruptcy would not be endangered,”she said. “So I did go to work on behalf of all these women’s groups and children’s groups because they needed a champion. And I got that bill changed.”

But behind the scenes, her campaign soon discovered they had a problem on their hands: They couldn’t find evidence of pressure from women’s and childrens’ groups in favor of the bill — because there was none. Those groups were in fact ferociously opposed. So the Clinton team went into damage control mode, trying to back the candidate up — without compounding the mistake, but without admitting it, either.

The emails that describe their response are among thousands of emails posted by Wikileaks over the past week from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account. U.S. intelligence officials maintain that the emails were hacked on orders of the Russian government, in an attempt to interfere with the U.S. elections. Wikileaks is in the process of publishing all of them, even though some have no legitimate public-interest value.

Shortly after the interview, Clinton public-relations consultant Mandy Grunwald suggested that the campaign enlist women’s advocates to back up Clinton’s story. “Since HRC spent so much time on 2001 bankruptcy bill today, should we get [women’s rights attorneys] Marcia Greenberger and Judy Lichtman and other women’s group advocates to put out statements backing up her story and attacking BS?” she asked.