Hillary Clinton’s campaign has spent the weekend refusing to confirm whether hacked emails released by WikiLeaks on Friday were real. That’s a serious question because the Russians, thought likely behind the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, are known to sometimes release fake or doctored documents.
But asked about one key email released by Wikileaks—an email in which Clinton’s staff discussed excerpts from some of the paid speeches she has refused to make public—Clinton did not deny it was authentic. In her answer, she seemed to confirm that, in fact, that critical email was indeed accurate.
Instead, she focused on the context for one speech excerpt that Republicans have been highlighting since Friday, in which she told the National Multi-Housing Council in April 2013 that politicians have to have “both a private position and a public position.”
Clinton explained that in the speech, she was talking about lessons she had learned from the movie Lincoln, from director Steven Spielberg. Donald Trump immediately scoffed—“now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln.”
But the email released by WikiLeaks shows that, indeed, she was talking about what she had learned from the movie–albeit a lesson that perhaps not all voters would find tasteful. Here’s what Clinton told the housing group, per the WikiLeaks email:
“You just have to sort of figure out how to ‐‐ getting back to that word, ‘balance ‐‐ how to balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that’s not just a comment about today. That, I think, has probably been true for all of our history, and if you saw the Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and how he was maneuvering and working to get the 13th Amendment passed, and he called one of my favorite predecessors, Secretary Seward, who had been the governor and senator from New York, ran against Lincoln for president, and he told Seward, I need your help to get this done. And Seward called some of his lobbyist friends who knew how to make a deal, and they just kept going at it. I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position. And finally, I think ‐‐ I believe in evidence‐based decision making. I want to know what the facts are. I mean, it’s like when you guys go into some kind of a deal, you know, are you going to do that development or not, are you going to do that renovation or not, you know, you look at the numbers. You try to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.”