The mechanics of President Obama's transition and Hillary Clinton's campaign were revealed this month with the leak of campaign chairman John Podesta's emails by WikiLeaks. On today's The Cutting Edge, E&E News reporter Robin Bravender discusses the behind-the-scenes details on agency appointments and requests for favors. She also explains what the leak could mean for Podesta's future.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to The Cutting Edge. The mechanics of President Obama's transition and Hillary Clinton's campaign revealed this week with the leak of emails from campaign chair John Podesta — E&E News reporter Robin Bravender has been sifting through all the documents and she's uncovered behind-the-scenes details on agency appointments and requests for favors. I should note it's a series of emails that have been coming out over the last couple of weeks. You're reading through just about all of them, I know, and what do you consider the most significant piece of energy and climate information coming out of these emails?
Robin Bravender: We should probably note that the Clinton campaign and John Podesta haven't verified the authenticity of the emails, but that said, there are some interesting tidbits in here. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiating from the Clinton campaign on where they were going to come down on energy policies, everything from a carbon tax to the Keystone pipeline. I think some of the most interesting information in here is sort of the behind-the-scenes personnel issues. So we can see what happened in 2008. John Podesta was the co-chairman of the Obama transition. We can see who was angling for those top administration jobs, who was asking for them, who was suggesting their friends or maybe their sons for administration posts, so all that's interesting. For example, we saw Carol Browner, who was the Obama administration's energy adviser in the first term, saying she didn't think Lisa Jackson had enough climate experience, or she wondered whether Jackson had enough climate experience to lead the EPA at that time, so that's all interesting.
Monica Trauzzi: Some of the information is embarrassing. What do you consider probably the most embarrassing or potentially compromising piece of information?
Robin Bravender: There are probably some emails in here John Podesta wishes he could take back, as probably do other allies of his who wrote him emails. There's some insulting language. For example, we saw emails from Podesta to Clinton in which he referred to prominent Latino politicians, former Energy Secretaries Federico Peña and Bill Richardson, as needy Latinos. He referred to Peña's baggage. So some of that has been insulting and is probably causing some apologies.
Monica Trauzzi: Washington is of course eating this all up. What's the reaction been from your sources as you reach out to them for comment? And is anyone apologizing?
Robin Bravender: Folks are definitely nervous. I think people are thinking back to the emails they might've sent John Podesta. People are searching for their names in the WikiLeaks database. And there have been apologies. I heard from Federico Peña earlier this week. He got a — John Podesta reached out shortly after that email was released saying he was sorry and smoothed it over relatively quickly.
Monica Trauzzi: So what does this all mean for John Podesta?
Robin Bravender: It's embarrassing for him but probably not that much in the long run. He's known as a Democratic operative. Folks know that this is kind of the way politics goes and the game is played. So people aren't that surprised by this. That said, some of the people who were the subjects of some of those more insulting emails might take a while to smooth things over.
Monica Trauzzi: What are the details revealed in these emails? Tell us about what a Clinton transition might look like.
Robin Bravender: Probably a lot. Since Podesta was central in both operations — he was the co-chairman of the Obama transition; he's now the chairman of Clinton's campaign. And a lot of the same people are involved. We also see a lot of the same people rumored to be in the running for some of these top Cabinet posts, so we might see some of those people potentially getting jobs this time around.
Monica Trauzzi: It's all very interesting to watch. Thank you for coming on the show.
Robin Bravender: Thanks, Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.
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