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WikiLeaks Emails Show Mayor de Blasio Venting at and Appealing to Clinton Campaign

The emails came morning and night, apparently unsolicited, often from the mayoral BlackBerry: messages from Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who styled himself as an emissary from the liberal left, to a presidential campaign trying to elect Hillary Clinton in what felt like a Bernie Sanders world.

Mr. de Blasio wanted to vent that Mrs. Clinton "totally blew" a question about mass incarceration at a Democratic primary debate with Mr. Sanders, a senator from Vermont (but praised her answer on gun control as "fantastic"). He wanted Mrs. Clinton to sign on to a forum on income inequality he planned to host for the presidential candidates in Iowa (none agreed to attend).

And he wanted Mrs. Clinton's aides to know that, even if he was playing hard to get on his endorsement of her, he was already planning to tell Mr. Sanders that he would not be supporting him in the race.

In laying bare John D. Podesta's inbox, the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has made no secret of his desire to reveal the deliberations of Mrs. Clinton's campaign for the world to see. But the leak, dumped online in two waves this week, has also found at least one collateral target: Mr. de Blasio, whose cameo appearances in Mr. Podesta's inbox offer a less-than-flattering look at the mayor's attempts to make his presence felt in the presidential campaign.

Mostly, as the earlier batch of emails made clear, he got a shrug.

"Should we care about this?" Mr. Podesta, the chairman of Mrs. Clinton's campaign, wrote to other Clinton aides after Mr. de Blasio sent him an update on an event intended to highlight income inequality issues.

But if the first leak showed that Mrs. Clinton's aides were cool to Mr. de Blasio's pitches, the second showed that he was determined to offer himself as an adviser — less a Clinton skeptic waiting for her to prove her liberal bona fides, as he said publicly at the time, than a Clinton cheerleader pushing the campaign to engage the Democratic Party's left wing.

In September 2015, the mayor typed out a lengthy message on his BlackBerry informing the aides that he planned to meet with Mr. Sanders. "My message to him (saying this in confidence to you) is that I will always want to work with him in the future and will never have a bad word about him, but won't be supporting him in this campaign," he wrote.

He urged the campaign to participate in the income inequality forum, saying that he would also invite Mr. Sanders, but that he "quietly first want to see what date works for you guys."

And he outlined what he planned to say in a television interview with the ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos, promising to cast Mrs. Clinton in a positive light. If asked why he had not yet endorsed her, he said, he would "allude to The Progressive Agenda." (He ultimately gave her his blessing the next month.)

On Wednesday, Eric Phillips, the mayor's press secretary, argued on Twitter that Mr. de Blasio's messages were, as private email leaks go, not all that humiliating — and, more to the point, on brand.

"What's a @BilldeBlasio hot mic catch? Him pushing on mass incarceration," he wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Podesta's inbox was comparatively short on mentions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who endorsed Mrs. Clinton early and served as a surrogate for her at in the run-up to the New York primary.

The campaign briefly discussed asking the governor and the mayor, who both worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration — Mr. Cuomo as the secretary, Mr. de Blasio as one of his aides — to defend Mrs. Clinton against potential charges from the Sanders campaign that black and Hispanic people had lost their homes to foreclosure during Bill Clinton's presidency.

But Mr. Cuomo was not left entirely unscathed. His personal contact information landed in one email, unredacted. And in November, when he was to present Mrs. Clinton with an award from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national gun control group, her aides agreed that Mrs. Clinton's speech should treat the SAFE Act, the governor's signature gun control legislation, with caution.

"Don't see a need to fully embrace the SAFE Act," an aide wrote. "There are some controversial items in there." (They settled on praising Mr. Cuomo's push to expand background checks for gun buyers.)

Even without full context, the emails make clear that Mr. de Blasio could be the target of some gentle mockery in the Clinton orbit.

When Mr. Clinton's chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, sent Mr. Podesta an important labor union's questionnaire for presidential candidates in March 2015, Mr. Podesta's mind apparently went straight to Mr. de Blasio, a reliable labor ally.

"Bill de Blasio for President!!" Mr. Podesta wrote from his iPad.

Ms. Flournoy's response, "Ha!"

[Source: By Vivian Yee, The New York Times, 12Oct16]

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