On March 2, 2015, Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta sent an email to venerable Clinton aide Cheryl Mills in which he counseled, “we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do sooner than later.”
The emails to which Podesta refers are, of course, those that were stored on then-Democratic presidential contender Clinton’s private email server. But what to make of the instruction to “dump” them? Does Podesta mean that the emails should be “dumped” in some sort of landfill, for emails, perhaps after loading the emails into an email wheelbarrow? Hmmm, it’s a real thinker. But the answer is no. Podesta wanted those emails disclosed.
This particular email has become something of a partisan Rorschach test, in which Clinton critics are hopeful that it means something much more nefarious than “make the emails public.” This is really a case in which the media should spend five minutes on forensic diligence, however, lest someone publish a report that leaves the reader in suspense, as this CBS News report does, or provide fodder for some Donald Trump campaign misinformation. Though, truth be told, the Trump team has already handled this with its trademarked pratfall comedy.
And, yeah, the most fact-free campaign in American history is gonna ride that pony.
So, what does “dump the emails” mean, exactly? Well, once you’ve ruled out the idea that Podesta is encouraging the Clinton team to break off a romantic relationship with some emails, the basic question becomes, “Does he mean delete or or does he mean disclose.”
The answer is “disclose.” The first indication that Podesta is not suggesting that the emails should be deleted is that he does not say, “Delete the emails,” a thing you would say if you wanted some emails deleted. Instead, he uses a bit of Beltway parlance: “dump,” as in “news dump” ― as in, get it out there, “sooner,” as opposed to “later.”
Here’s how we know this. The full email from Podesta reads: “On another matter....and not to sound like Lanny, but we are going to have to dump all those emails so better to do so sooner than later.”
Lanny, in this case, refers to crisis management guru and Clinton sycophant par-excellence Lanny Davis. And what was Davis “sounding like” around this time? He was sounding like a guy who wanted Clinton to be fully upfront with the public about this matter. Davis, in fact, made a March 9 appearance on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect” in which he “defended Hillary Clinton but [said], in hindsight, she should have immediately let everyone know about her email account and server.”
This isn’t the easiest thing to write, because typically, Davis is the absolute worst. But on this occasion, Davis is offering some very good advice, and Podesta is right to suggest it be followed. Disclose everything and be forthright about it. That’s the ticket. You know how, there’s another email in which Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook expresses the desire to “zap Lanny out of our universe?” Well, sure, do that. But first, follow this one piece of good advice.
In the parallel universe where Clinton was smart enough to just use the damn State Department email system and none of this ever happened, are all these Clinton confidants any happier? You’d like to think so, but knowing them, there was probably some whole other dumb thing.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.