Donald Trump has turned the WikiLeaks media organization into his most important new political ally. The Clinton campaign said that decision puts Trump and his campaign in bed with a “propaganda arm of the Kremlin.”
As WikiLeaks continues to release thousands of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Trump and conservative media outlets have played some up into major controversies. Trump himself has delivered jeremiads from the stump about the email revelations and what he sees as the media corruption that prevents them from receiving proper coverage.
“The new emails also show members of the Clinton team viciously attacking Catholics and evangelicals. Did you see that?” Trump asked a crowd in Lakeland, Florida, on Wednesday. “The press doesn’t want to report that one. That could be an election changer.”
And while that particular 2011 email, which appears to show two Clinton aides mocking Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch’s Catholicism, could cause Clinton legitimate political damage, most of the thousands of emails released have been fairly mundane – more mildly embarrassing than politically perilous.
In one oft-cited email, for example, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calls Clinton’s campaign “stale.”
Other emails which have received outsize attention for their supposedly scandalous content have turned out to be much less than meets the eye.
One email which drew widespread attention from Trump for appearing to show a Clinton aide “colluding” with the Justice Department upon further inspection only shows information that was publicly available online at the same time.
The Clinton campaign, rather than respond to each individual email, has broadly claimed that they cannot be verified, and instead attacked WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign for what they said is proudly doing the bidding of Russian intelligence and hackers.
"It is now clear that the illegal hack of my personal email account was -- just like the other recent, election-related hacks -- the work of the Russian government,” Podesta said in a statement Wednesday evening.
“This level of meddling by a foreign power can only be aimed at boosting Donald Trump and should send chills down the spine of all Americans, regardless of political party,” he added.
Podesta went on to accuse Trump of ignoring what the intelligence community has said to be Russia’s role in the hack for political gain.
“Despite receiving an intelligence briefing on the Russians' role in masterminding these hacks, Donald Trump continues to side with the Russians by publicly denying their involvement and even cheering on further intrusions.”
The Russian government, WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign have each denied working with one another on the hack, or the publication of the emails taken.