Top aides to Hillary Clinton advised her to joke about her use of a private email server while secretary of state after the news of her server broke, emails released by Wikileaks show.
“I wanted to float idea of HRC making a joke about the email situation at the Emily’s List dinner tonight,” communications director Jen Palmieri wrote in a March, 2015, email to several Clinton aides, using HRC to identify Clinton. “What do folks think about that?”
The email exchange took place the same day the Associated Press contacted the campaign for comment regarding its then-breaking story that Clinton had used a private email server while secretary of state.
“I don’t think it’s nuts if we can come up with the right thing,” press secretary Nick Merrill replied. “But it could also be nuts … ”
Deputy communications director Kristina Schake chimed in, noting the email scandal could be used to leverage a communications effort already underway to get Clinton to crack more jokes.
“I think it would be good for her to show some humor,” she wrote on the email chain. “This is her crowd so the response would be great. Also Dan [Schwerin] is looking to add more humor overall so more jokes are welcome too.”
The idea was nixed, however, when political adviser Mandy Grunwald weighed in.
“We don’t know what’s in the emails, so we are nervous about this,” she wrote. “Might get a big laugh tonight and regret it when content of emails is disclosed.”
“If we’re worried about equal pay as we were, we should not joke about this,” added strategist and pollster Joel Benenson.
Months later, after the FBI announced it was launching an investigation into the server, Clinton did crack a joke about the server using a reference to the app Snapchat. “I love it,” she said at an August, 2015, dinner in Iowa. “Those messages disappear all by themselves.”
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