Apparently, Democratic National Committee insiders had it in for Donald Trump from the beginning — and perhaps because they worried Bernie Sanders would stand a better chance against the billionaire at the polls — they fabricated a plot to ensnare and accuse the GOP presidential contender of sexual harassment.
While that might seem to have the fingerprints of a tin-foil hat contrived theory, emails published by Wikileaks in the presidential election’s eleventh hour reveal DNC staffers scheming to do exactly that — and possibly more.
In an email dated May 19, 2016, DNC social media director Cate Domino writes to attorneys Graham Wilson and Jacquelyn Lopez — the former a partner and the latter an associate at Perkins Coie LLP — asking advice about, as the subject line states, “Approval: Craigslist Job Post,” stating:
“This is copy for a job we’d like to post on Craigslist. We’re aware that it might get taken down, and we’re comfortable with that, but we want to make sure we’re not exposing ourselves to any other action when we post.”
Other action apparently refers to the distinctly realistic possibility they could be sued for placing said ad — which is understandable, given its contents:
“Multiple Positions (NYC area)
Seeking staff members for multiple positions in a large, New York-based corporation known for its real estate investments, fake universities, steaks, and wine. The boss has very strict standards for female employees, ranging from the women who take lunch orders (must be hot) to the women who oversee multi-million dollar construction projects (must maintain hotness demonstrated at time of hiring).
Title: Honey Bunch (that’s what the boss will call you)
* No gaining weight on the job (we’ll take some “before” pictures when you start to use later as evidence)
* Must be open to public humiliation and open-press workouts if you do gain weight on the job
* A willingness to evaluate other women’s hotness for the boss’ satisfaction is a plus
* Should be proficient in lying about age if the boss thinks you’re too old
Working mothers not preferred (the boss finds pumping breast milk disgusting, and worries they’re too focused on their children).
We’re proud to maintain a “fun” and “friendly work environment, where the boss is always available to meet with his employees. Like it or not, he may greet you with a kiss on the lips or grope you under the meeting table.
Interested applicants should send resume, cover letter, and headshot to [email protected]”
Although Lopez responds, in part, “The defamation risk here is too high,” further communication in the chain indicates a phone conversation occurred between Domino and the attorney — and it would seem the dubious nature of this putative parody advertisement no longer sparked qualms among DNC staffers.
Domino explains as much to DNC Deputy Digital Director Tessa Simonds the following morning, May 20, writing:
“Just talked to Jackie – apparently because we’re talking about sexual harassment, the defamation risk is really high, but he hasn’t been litigious yet, so…
“When I told her that we pulled every example from solid news sources, that made her feel a little better. Basically, it’s up to the DNC if it’s worth the risk, but if we decide to go forward, she thinks we should make sure we’re really confident in our research back-up, and asked us to flag it for them first.
“What do you think?”
Then, three minutes later, before Simonds or other staffers copied into the chain can reply, Domino notes:
“New intel – she just called me back.
“Apparently Graham took this all the way to Marc [Elias, Perkins Coie partner and Clinton campaign general counsel], and he said no. So if we do this, we need to get Amy and Lindsey to agree that we’re ok with the possibility of getting sued.”
Shortly thereafter, DNC spokeswoman Christina Freundlich — who earned instant national notoriety for snapping a shameless smiling selfie in front of a deadly blaze in New York City in March 2015 — intones with the following reminder:
“However, Jackie said to Cate ‘if you think getting sued would be awesome publicity and Amy and Lindsey are willing to go there, then let’s talk, but…’”
In minutes, Simonds responds, “Great. Once research weighs in, Cate will take it to Amy and Lindsey if we decide to move forward,” before Democratic National Committee research director and head of the rapid response division, Lauren Dillon, weighs in:
“I’ll do the sign off which will probably slow it down a bit. For awareness.”
Simonds, contextually appearing a bit apprehensive about the plan, replies, “Rapid team has signed off, we just need to decide within this group IF we want to take this to lindsey / amy / luis”
Dillon, replying to the growing list of staff copied into the burgeoning plot for the fake Craigslist ad, writes [all errors original]:
“If we have a likelihood of getting sued I need to look at it closely too if you want to move forward.
“You can take it to them first to decide and if they say no that will save me time but I may end up making edits – or I may not – before it actually goes out.
“My team if great as you know but I lawsuit should be on my shoulders.”
Several issues arise in parsing the larger context of leaked documents — and the intended nature of this fabricated Craigslist ad is far from an exception. A simple explanation for the plan being simply a parody forgets those privy to the plot expressed apprehension about potential legal ramifications — were the ad a basic joke, such a possibility would seemingly discourage planners from moving forward.
Instead, the email chain appears to show intent to smear Donald Trump’s reputation to the brink of disaster, and a willingness to risk litigation in the process.
Another email appears to show the motivation for the perilous gamble.
Just one week before the Craigslist email chain began circulating, the DNC research team knew what a threat Hillary’s opposition presented — and that there was someone better suited to face Trump in the presidential race: Bernie Sanders.
“Bernie is stronger than HRC against Trump and they will make that case,” Joseph Oslund wrote, in part, to the DNC research team.
Indeed, during the same time period when one faction of the DNC plotted to release the fake ad, another worked to dishearten and perhaps tarnish Sanders’ popular image, in an email thread discussing an upcoming MSNBC report showing him losing ground to Clinton, whether or not that was true:
“This is a good story. Did we get them the info near the bottom? Bernie Sanders faces a ‘then what’ problem.”
Are these the signature marks of a political party and its favored campaign under fire from the start and looking to cheat its way out of the negative spotlight? Was this a satirical prank pulled despite damaging consequences? Or was this perhaps undertaken in hopes national controversy and outcry would lower the integrity of the already-contentious Trump presidential bid?
Those questions might go unanswered forever — or perhaps more will be revealed as Wikileaks publishes its apparently voluminous cache of documents, as Americans prepare to head for the polls in less than 24 hours.
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