US Elections 2016: Final countdown

WikiLeaks stirs up trouble for Clinton

 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting on Oct 4, 2016.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting on Oct 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's paid closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks apparently included her dreams of "open trade and open borders" and a suggestion that bankers are best positioned to know how the industry should be regulated, according to hacked e-mail made public by WikiLeaks.

The new revelation threatens to revive an issue that has dogged Mrs Clinton for months - that she is a populist who is cosy with Wall Street and out of touch with the middle class.

The comments are from an e-mail describing speech transcripts that Mrs Clinton has refused to release despite months of intense criticism.

The e-mail, apparently hacked from those sent to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, shows a staff member in the early stages of Mrs Clinton's primary campaign against Senator Bernie Sanders this year flagging speech excerpts that could be politically problematic.

Mr Sanders had questioned what Mrs Clinton had said to the financial institutions that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees between the end of her tenure as secretary of state and the start of her run for the White House.

Mrs Clinton, who was paid more than US$20 million (S$27.5 million) for speeches between 2013 and 2015, had said she would "look into" releasing the transcripts, but never indicated any plans to do so. The excerpts, released by WikiLeaks on Friday, included comments on two election issues - Wall Street regulation and trade - on which Mrs Clinton has been on the defensive at times.

 

Both Mr Sanders and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have attacked Mrs Clinton for her past support of global free-trade deals, tapping into a growing sentiment among many voters that such agreements have hurt their communities. Mrs Clinton, for instance, described her free-trade ambitions during a 2013 appearance before the US arm of a Brazilian banking group. Records show the group, Itau BBA USA Securities, paid her US$225,000.

"My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders," she said.

The Clinton campaign refused to authenticate the hacked e-mail.

Meanwhile, the US government has, for the first time, formally accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organisations ahead of the election.

"We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorised these activities," a government statement said.

"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process."

A Kremlin spokesman called the allegations "nonsense".

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'WikiLeaks stirs up trouble for Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe