Clinton's advisers wanted her to set the record straight on her secret email when it was first revealed - with a bizarre 'light-hearted' chat with Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore
- Hillary Clinton's traveling press secretary Nick Merrill devised a 'crazy' plan to help his boss' email scandal go away in the days after the news broke
- He thought Clinton should join her husband, who was sitting down with Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore at a Clinton Global Initiative event
- There the former secretary of state could 'address this seriously,' but the interview would also show the 'human side of HRC'
- 'Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term,' Merrill said
As the public was first becoming aware of Hillary Clinton's secret email server, one of her top aides had a 'crazy' idea on how to make it go away quickly.
Clinton's traveling press secretary Nick Merrill wrote an email to communications director Jennifer Palmieri suggesting that the presidential candidate sit down with Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore, who was already scheduled to appear with her husband at a Clinton Global Initiative event.
'HRC is not slated to join, but maybe she should,' Merrill mused.
'It would be just light-hearted enough while giving her the opportunity to address this seriously, but a little conciliatory as discussed, and then get back to a discussion about CGI etc.,' Merrill explained. 'Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term.'
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Hillary Clinton's (left) traveling press secretary Nick Merrill wanted her to appear with Comedy Central's Larry Wilmore (right) and explain why she used a private email server
Hillary Clinton, pictured campaigning in Ohio yesterday, had no interest in addressing her email scandal at a CGI event with her husband and comedian Larry Wilmore
Merrill's conversation with Palmieri, which was cc-ed to other top aides, was made available to the public through a hack of Podesta's emails, which were released through Wikileak's website earlier this week.
The traveling press secretary laid out his pop culture-centric plan five days after the New York Times broke the story that Clinton had been using an unsecured email server while working at the State Department.
In an email dated March 7, 2015, Merrill devised that Clinton should join her husband onstage two days later at the closing plenary session of CGI University that year.
'Wilmore could sit down with WJC and Chelsea and say something like "Thanks for having me here, it's a pleasure. And I should tell you, I just emailed HRC (I hear she's a big emailer), and asked if she'd join as well,"' Merrill spelled out.
He wrote out '(laughter)' in the correspondence to indicate that Wilmore's comment would be a joke.
Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore (left) ended up doing the event as originally planned, sitting down with just Bill Clinton (right)
'Then cue HRC walking onstage to applause,' Merrill continued. 'She could sit down, take advantage of the light-hearted environment to make things serious for a moment, and give a version of the statement, maybe with a follow-up or two, and then why would have the rest of the conversation.'
Merrill notes how Palmieri was open to the idea and mentioned another plan the staff had, to craft a letter to the State Department about the email matter that would serve as both a statement and a Q&A.
The letter would either be from Clinton to current Secretary of State John Kerry or from Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff when she had the job, to Jon Finer, who serves in the position under Kerry.
The letter, Palmieri explained in a previous email, 'would memorialize the process going forward and give us a venue to explain ourselves and provide q and a in less forced setting.'
Bill Clinton had his own controversies to address at the March 2015 CGI event, as he explained to comedian Larry Wilmore why the Clinton Foundation took foreign donations
'So in addition to getting the human side of HRC for the cameras, we'd have a set-the-record-straight piece to this that closes off that avenue of attack as well,' Merrill argued.
'It might be crazy, but it might also be the one-two punch we need right now,' he added.
The plan didn't come to fruition with Clinton's top aide Huma Abedin writing the others in an email to say the candidate 'does not want to address it in a q&a at a CGI panel.'
When Wilmore did eventually appear at the closing session of CGI University, he spoke solely to former President Bill Clinton, first asking about another uncomfortable Clinton topic – the foundation's propensity to take foreign money.
'OK, I want to get the controversial thing out of the way first, I want to ask you about that,' Wilmore said to the ex-president once the two were seated onstage.
'There's been some talk about the foundation receiving some money from places, I think it was Saudi Arabia, ISIS, al-Qaeda, places like that,' the comedian said to laughs.
Bill Clinton chuckled too.
'We do get money from other countries and some of them are in the Middle East,' the ex-president said.
He pointed to the United Arab Emirates as an example.
'Do we agree with everything they do? No, but they're helping us fight ISIS,' he offered, additionally pointing to a university project the country helped out with.
As for Clinton, she addressed the email controversy with reporters for the first time at a press conference on March 10, 2015, when she was appearing at the United Nations.
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