November 2, 2016 03:05 pm
A newly published batch of stolen emails shows a close relationship between Google and members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff.
The private emails were apparently stolen from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, and published by WikiLeaks. They contain several references to Google and its parent company Alphabet’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.
The emails reveal a relationship with Schmidt dating back to at least 2008 and show that Google loaned its jet to members of Clinton’s campaign staff on several occasions.
According to a February 2015 email to Podesta from Tina Flournoy who serves as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff — Google planned to lend its company jet for a trip to Africa. Podesta wrote, “FYI. They are donating the Google plane for the Africa trip.”
It’s not clear what trip they’re talking about, but the email chain also said that Schmidt wanted to meet “WJC,” shorthand for “William Jefferson Clinton.” Given the timing, they may be talking about Bill Clinton’s nine-day trip in May 2015 to Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia and Morocco. The annual trek to Africa included a group of 20 donors and supporters, several of whom were “expected to give generously” to the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to Politico.
Both Podesta and Flournoy wrote that the Google plane has a bad habit of breaking down. While Podesta said it would be a “nice way to travel,” both of them mentioned issues with the plane in the past.
“Yes, until it breaks down in Ethiopia as it did the last time we used it,” Flournoy wrote.
Podesta responded: “Funny, the only time I was on it, it broke down in Rwanda and we had to fly Ethiopian Airlines home.”
The emails also say that Schmidt had met with Hillary Clinton and spoken with Podesta.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In April 2014, Schmidt sent Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills a detailed plan for the 2016 campaign, writing “If we get started soon, we will be in a very strong position to execute well for 2016.” The plan laid out ideas for the campaign, like where it should be headquartered and who should be hired.
In an email to Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook the same month, Podesta wrote that Schmidt seemed eager to be a part of an exploratory committee and “clearly wants to be head outside advisor, but didn’t seem like he wanted to push others out.” Podesta wrote that Schmidt was “ready to fund, advice recruit talent, etc.” and was “more deferential on structure than I expected.”
Podesta encouraged Mook and Mills to meet with Schmidt to discuss his involvement with the campaign. According to Podesta, Schmidt pressed Podesta to look for young coders “preferably in outer borough NYC” and thought Northern California was too expensive for any kind of Clinton campaign home base.