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Politics & Policy

Podesta Leaks: Ron Klain’s ‘Role in the Biden Demise’

WikiLeaks has released another nearly 700 hacked e-mails from John Podesta’s accounts, the fifth tranche. One is already getting a great deal of attention: Ron Klain, who was Vice President Joe Biden’s chief-of-staff for the first two years of the Obama administration, later wrote to Podesta about playing a role in the “demise” of Biden’s 2016 presidential run. He thanked Podesta for helping him land on his feet in the Hillary Clinton campaign.

In the e-mail, dated October 14, 2015, Klain wrote:

She was great last night. Thanks for inviting me into the campaign, and for sticking with me during the Biden anxiety. You are a great friend and a great leader. It’s been a little hard for me to play such a role in the Biden demise – and I am definitely dead to them — but I’m glad to be on Team HRC, and glad that she had a great debate last night. Thanks John.

The references to “she” who was “great” in a debate the previous evening are clearly to Hillary Clinton. She did in fact participate in a Democratic candidates’ debate on October 13, 2015.

On October 21, 2015, a week after Klain’s e-mail to Podesta, Biden announced that he would not seek the Democratic nomination. The announcement came in a strange, lengthy Rose Garden speech, with President Obama by the vice-president’s side. For much of the speech, Biden sounded more like he was starting a campaign than pulling the plug on talk of one. Naturally, that led to speculation that he’d fully intended to run but was somehow persuaded not to at the last minute.

During the Clinton administration, Ron Klain had been chief-of-staff to Vice President Al Gore. As I wrote a year before the Klain-Podesta e-mail, Klain had been central to the Obama administration’s Solyndra debacle – the green energy firm backed by Obama donors into which the administration poured $535 million even though it was in terminal financial condition even as Obama and Biden touted it. Nevertheless, when the Ebola controversy arose in October 2014, the president made Klain the administration’s point man.

A year later, Klain apparently played “such a role in the Biden demise” that he had become “dead to them” – presumably the White House, or at least Biden’s part of it. But he emerged “glad to be on Team HRC.”

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