An email released on Monday by WikiLeaks shows members of the Hillary Clinton campaign discussing a “Trump swift boat project” with a political strategist with longstanding ties to the Clintons.
“I know you can’t look past Bernie and March primaries — but who is in charge of the Trump swift boat project?” Joel Johnson, the managing director of Glover Park Group, strategic communications firm, wrote in a Feb. 26 email to Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
“Needs to be ready, funded and unleashed when we decide — but not a half assed scramble,” he added.
Palmieri responded, sarcastically: “Gee. Thanks, Joel. We thought we could half-ass it. Let’s discuss.”
The email was hacked illegally from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account.
“Swift boat” is a reference to the organized political attack on John Kerry’s military service during the 2004 presidential campaign. A group of Kerry opponents calling themselves the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth aired ads calling the then-Massachusetts senator’s Vietnam service into question.
“Swiftboating” has become a catch-all term for organized political attacks that rely on information culled from a candidate’s past.
Trump underwent a swiftboating of sorts starting last month after the release of footage from 2005 of him speaking in vulgar terms about women with ex-NBC host Billy Bush. Numerous women have come forward since then accusing Trump of sexually harassing and, in some cases, sexually assaulting them.
Some observers have asserted that the onslaught is a coordinated political effort. There has not been any proof yet that it was.
Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook was asked on Sunday if the campaign has been in touch with any of Trump’s accusers. He said he was “not aware” whether any have been.
Reached for comment, Johnson of Glover Park Group said his email was a reference to opposition research in general.
“My way of saying oppo research,” he told The Daily Caller. “Usual unsolicited advice from outside.”
Johnson, who worked in the Bill Clinton White House, did not respond to a follow-up question about whether he knew of any specific opposition research, especially regarding any of Trump’s accusers.