Before Jennifer Palmieri took a job as communications director for the Hillary Clinton campaign, she worked at communications director in the Obama White House. And it was in that capacity that in March 2015, Palmieri coordinated with Clinton’s team to craft talking points about the former secretary of state’s use of a personal email account.
The email exchange, which was hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account and released on Friday by WikiLeaks, is the first to show that someone from the Obama White House coordinated with Clintonworld about the fledgling scandal.
“Philippe and Nick — didn’t Condi also use a non-government account?” Palmieri wrote in a March 2, 2015 email to longtime Clinton adviser Philippe Reines and her press secretary, Nick Merrill.
“If so, think Nick has standing to go back to push NYT to make that clear and to push them to use all of Nick’s quote. It is not correct to say that Nick did not provide a reason for why she did not have a government account, his quote states the reason.”
The email was sent just after The New York Times published an article exposing Clinton’s exclusive personal email use. Palmieri was referring to former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice. But despite Palmieri’s inquiry, Rice never did use email while at the State Department.
Palmieri’s email to Clinton insiders, which she sent from her Gmail account despite White House restrictions on personal email usage, was not her only attempt at cleaning up the email mess. She also coordinated with the State Department to help contain fallout from the fledgling scandal.
Emails released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that Palmieri and then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki discussed strategies for ensuring that Secretary of State John Kerry would not be asked about Clinton’s emails during a scheduled interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” (RELATED: State Dept. And White House Coordinated To ‘Crush’ Clinton Email Coverage)
“Think we can get this done so he is not asked about email,” she wrote to Psaki on March 12, 2015.
Kerry appeared on “Face the Nation” on March 15. He was not asked about Clinton’s emails. Another email thread involving Palmieri and Psaki also included Ben Rhodes, the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes.
While Palmieri had already announced at the time of the email exchanges that she was leaving the White House for the upstart Clinton campaign, those emails are the first released to date which show that someone at the White House discussed Clinton’s emails with the State Department.
As for Palmieri’s use of Gmail, just a day after she contacted the Clinton insiders, White House press secretary reiterated the Obama administration’s stance on White House staffers using personal email accounts.
“And at the time there were very — there was clear guidance that was given to White House staffers that is consistent with the guidance that agencies give to their employees, which is that official U.S. government work should be conducted on official U.S. government email systems,” Earnest told reporters during a daily press briefing.