Trump campaign pounces on Clinton advisor’s hacked email about Catholic conservatives

Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta speaks to members of the media outside Clinton's home in Washington.

Hoping to improve its standing with Catholic voters, the Trump campaign on Oct. 12 demanded an apology from the Clinton campaign for a string of leaked emails that critics say show an anti-Catholic bias from some of Hillary Clinton’s top aides.

In a 2011 email chain made public on Tuesday, Clinton communications chief Jennifer Palmieri responded to an email from John Halpin, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, about conservatives who convert to Catholicism, highlighting Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch whose children were raised Catholic. Mr. Murdoch himself is not Catholic, but he has been active in Catholic circles.

Mr. Halpin wrote that conservatives are attracted to Catholicism because of “the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations” calling such beliefs “an amazing bastardization of the faith.”

Ms. Palmieri, who also worked at the Center for American Progress at the time, responded, “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ms. Palmieri said that she does not “recognize” the emails and that she herself is Catholic, according to a tweet from a BuzzFeed political reporter. She reportedly stopped short of denying their authenticity.

Copied on the exchange was Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, a practicing Catholic whose email account was hacked and its contents published by WikiLeaks. Mr. Podesta has acknowledged that his account was hacked, but he has cast doubt on the veracity of the contents published by WikiLeaks.

It does not appear that Mr. Podesta replied to the Palmieri-Halpin thread, but the Trump campaign highlighted the emails on Wednesday. Speaking at Liberty University on Wednesday morning, G.O.P. vice presidential hopeful Mike Pence condemned the emails and called on the Clinton campaign to apologize.

“If only on behalf of her Catholic running mate,” Mr. Pence said, referring to Tim Kaine, “Hillary Clinton should denounce those bigoted, anti-Catholic, anti-evangelical remarks and her campaign staff should apologize to people of faith and do it now.”

In the same speech, Mr. Pence, who was brought up Catholic before converting to evangelical Christianity in college, said he “didn’t see much relevance for the faith that I’d been raised in.”

Mr. Trump weighed in on the leaked emails later in the day during a speech in Florida.

“She did a big number on Catholics, a horrible number on Catholics. She did a horrible number on evangelicals, through her people,” Mr. Trump said, tying Mrs. Clinton to Ms. Palmieri’s email.

Polls show Mr. Trump lagging with Catholic voters.

A poll from PRRI released on Tuesday found Mrs. Clinton leading Mr. Trump 55 percent to 34 percent among all Catholic voters. The Republican candidate does better with white Catholics, trailing just four points behind Mrs. Clinton. The poll was conducted on Oct. 5-9.

CatholicVote, a politically conservative organization that last week denounced Mr. Trump after leaked tapes revealed he used lewd language about women, called on Ms. Palmieri to resign.

“Make no mistake, had Clinton staff and allies spoken this way about other groups, they would be dismissed,” the group said in a statement. “Just imagine if Clinton’s spokesperson was caught calling prominent Muslims or Jewish converts frauds for embracing their faith and mocking them for doing so because it was socially acceptable.”

The head of the group, Brian Burch, faulted Mr. Podesta for not replying to the email.

“And there's no evidence that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta ever pushed back at these smears against Catholicism,” he said in a statement. “Everyone has a unique faith journey, and it's just insulting to make blanket statements maligning people's motives for converting to another faith tradition.”

Other Catholics are accusing Mr. Podesta of trying to foment division in the church, pointing to a separate email exchange about opposition from some bishops to certain elements of the Affordable Care Act based on the church’s stance against contraception.

In a 2012 email to Mr. Podesta, Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, wrote that while he does not understand how the Catholic Church operates, he wanted somebody to launch a “Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.”

Mr. Podesta responded by highlighting two organizations he helped create that could fill such a role.

“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this,” he wrote. “Likewise Catholics United.”

Thomas Peters, a conservative writer and member of CatholicVote, wrote that the emails show a concerted effort by Clinton allies to undermine the Catholic Church.

“[R]emember @HillaryClinton said "deep-seated religious beliefs have to be changed" - @johnpodesta emails show he was doing just that!” Mr. Peters tweeted, referring to a 2015 speech Mrs. Clinton gave about expanding global access to reproductive healthcare.

He followed that tweet with, “@johnpodesta emails are especially alarming because they show the tip of an iceberg. They created a network. This is just a snapshot.”

Christopher Hale, the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, told America that his organization is fully on board with U.S. bishops and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“We’re not a church reform group,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to promote the settled issues of the church in the public sphere, like the dignity of all human life from conception to death, the dignity of immigrants, economic justice for the poor, care for God’s creation, and inclusion for marginalized communities throughout the nation.”

Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America and author of “The Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters.” Follow him on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

Joanne Love
4 months 1 week ago
Dear god in heaven! Please do not corrupt my faith! This is the most bizarre election ever! Holy Spirit, Help Us!!! And, a God forgive us...
Lisa Weber
4 months 1 week ago
Donald Trump trying to take the high road on any issue is laughable. I liked the comment in my local paper today that Trump is someone "Christ might have driven from the temple with a whip." It's by far the funniest comment of this entire election.
KATHERIN MARSH
4 months 1 week ago
It is Hillary who is greedy, and corrupt. She who became wealthy by being a "public servant" by kawtowing to Warren Buffet. Hillary at first supported the pipeline, then when Warren Buffet wanted his trains to carry the oil instead of an interstate pipeline, Hillary turned face, Both Hillary and Donald are beyond disgusting. Donald TALKED dirty to Billy Bush years ago. Disgusting. Hillary husband actually acted on the talk and did sexually molested women. With Hillary we WILL go to single insurer, like Canada. And it will be terribly expensive. And the taxes of the middle class will continue to rise. Donald says get rid of Obamacare. Have no exclusions for or existing and open it to free market competition And he says he will lower the taxes in the middle class to 15%. Donald also says Nafta was terrible because our country stopped child labor and set minimum wages and gave maternity leave and set strict labor laws, so Bill Clinton let his wealthy corporate friends love production to China. Where there are no child labor laws, minimum hage and wage laws, AND no paid maternity leave, I says I was flipping a coin on Election Day, and I still am. But nobody will impeach Clinton if she flip loos. Ruins US. They will however hold Donald to his word.
William Rydberg
4 months 1 week ago
Isn't it sad that these outsiders only see Catholic Unity to be something of an obstacle. St Paul of Tarsus wrote about "powers and principalities". After two millennia, the opposition is still going strong in the highest echelons of secular Power. Scripture is such an Inspired gift, ever fresh, ever new. Thank God for Scripture, the Magisterium, and Holy Tradition. All gifts of the Trinity. in Christ,
KATHERIN MARSH
4 months 1 week ago
I'm am sad that Donald is xenophobic. But that is something the senate and congress can countermand. Hillary is so insider Washington, that it is like she deals her term in office to insider traders. She is so bought and paid for by a handful of mega millionaires, and a new liberalism, that she cannot be trusted or forced to keep her word to anyone except her hand full of millionaires. She says she passed healthcare for children when Bill was President? She lies. And lies. She has become wealthy making, what? 25 million a year now, Off middle class American.
RANDELL BUSBY
4 months 1 week ago
There is certainly nothing newsworthy about the leaked eMails. As a church musician, I have had to deal with formerly protestant married priests who betrayed their vows and holy orders as Episcopalian/Aglican and Lutheran clergy to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church. In every instance, they fled the churches of their birth in response to the supposed liberal/progressive stands of the churches in which they were ordained. Having made "the swim across the Tibre," in every instance these men tried to force a 1930's model on the church where they were placed; doing away with female Altar Servers and EMHC, instituting masses in Latin, wearing fiddle-back and highly laced vestments, etc. We had one married priest who preached about the evils of abortion (and the women who have them) every Sunday for 3 months straight. This while he had six children and spoke often about how sad he was that his wife had had a hysterectomy (from the pulpit). One has only to look at the right-wing echo chamber known as EWTN to see that a majority of their talking heads and leadership are former protestants and fundamentalists. The same goes for the right-wing journal of record, First Things.
J Cosgrove
4 months 1 week ago
Actually, I think the most interesting thing Pedesta said was
“I know she has begun to hate everyday Americans, but I think we should use it once the first time she says I’m running for president because you and everyday Americans need a champion,”
And he agreed with Sandy Newman when Newman called the Catholic Church a Middle Ages Dictatorship and said that something should be done about Catholics. Pedesta replied that they have set up Democratic front organization under the guise of being Catholic.
We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up. I’ll discuss with Tara. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the other person to consult.
http://bit.ly/2dwL5sy Here is another website discussing this http://bit.ly/2dX7jFI
ed gleason
4 months 1 week ago
Dems Setting up a Catholic front? The GOP/Trump gang set up a Catholic front with only three guys and no money... Guiliani, Gingrich, and Christi and fast fading ..
Benito Diaz
4 months 1 week ago
Beware of the father of lies using well meaning folks in the media and elsewhere to promote lies based on partial truths.
Alfred Chavez
4 months 1 week ago
Benito, can you expand? What lie in this story is based on partial truths?
Jim Arden
4 months 1 week ago
It is too bad that we are in the midst of a campaign between two difficult candidates, because that seems to obscure the ability to look at these exchanges. The lede of the post is not even about the emails; it is about the Trump campaign wanting to use the emails. The lede should be about the emails and what they say. We have our political differences, but it is unfortunate that we look at even our faith through a political lens, that we are first party men and women and secondarily Catholic.
Alfred Chavez
4 months 1 week ago
Bishop Conley of Nebraska I think makes an excellent case for voting for neither candidate. IMO, HRC's culture war positions remain the lesser of two evils given Trump's inability to demonstrate that he has the temperament necessary to be in charge of the nuclear codes. There's undeniably a major life concern in that issue alone, never mind the other areas in which Trump's positions are morally unacceptable. Still for those of us in safe blue states, not voting for HRC would help diminish the idea that she has any kind of mandate. I never thought I'd say this, but at this point I'm hoping for another four years of stalemate, particularly on the culture war issues.
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
I would not trust the nuclear codes on a pyromaniac that has been instrumental in setting the ME on fire.
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
There is no pause to WikiLeaks' data dump concerning Podesta that started Friday. I think alternative media has done a fantastic job linking to the most interesting mails for those of us that consider these mails journalistic gems but don't have the free time we wished we had. The revelations of the disdain HRC feels for ordinary Americans and how her campaign has vote and -in some cases- veto power on some of the most important newspapers like NYT, Washington Post and Boston Globe are STUNNING. Good bye, MSM. God bless Julian Assange. Meanwhile, at CNN (just to put an example), there is a lot of talk about "P*ssy", but "Rape" and "Rape enabler" are unpronounceable. https://youtu.be/rFKQKisIMSc https://youtu.be/u4fXPa27o6c
ed gleason
4 months 1 week ago
'God bless Julian Assange."???? Why don't you bless Putin.... Assange only licked the stamp on the dump.
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
Fine. God bless Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I'm sure persecuted Christians in the ME would agree. A little over a year ago, talk on the MSM was that ISIS and al-Nusra were so strong that it would take "years" to defeat them. All those weapons Obama and HRC covertly provided them through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in their quest for regime change in Syria, falsely appeared to validate the opinion of the warmongering presstitutes, hard at work pushing for the invasion of that country. With the Assad government against the wall, Putin (invited by that lawful government) started bombing the terrorists to Hell. It's all been down-hill since then for the Islamic nihilists. With respect to the data dump, I suspect it has more to do with murdered 27 year-old DNC staffer Seth Rich than with Putin. WikiLeaks has implied that by offering money for information on the murder. Is anybody willing to put their hands in the fire for HRC and rule that possibility out? In any case, the Clinton political machine has NOT DENIED the hacked mails are authentic.
ed gleason
4 months 1 week ago
So you like Putin's initiatives.???. :All those weapons Obama and HRC covertly provided them through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in their quest for regime change in Syria,": Who told you that Putin? ISIS got their weapons from the Iraq army panic retreaters that Bush's trainers and a trillion US dollars paid for when he dissolved the Iraq army [not knowing that Islam has Sunni and Shite branches} . GET IT CORRECT
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
Ed, You forgot to repeat the MSM line that the rebels holed-up in Aleppo are part of various "moderate" groups fighting for a Jeffersonian democracy and are not affiliated with al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria). Joke apart, did you notice that in the second presidential debate neither HRC or any of her two seconds (the so-called moderators) answered Trump's question: "Who are the rebels?" Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that AT LEAST as of August 14, 2014 HRC knew Saudi Arabia and Qatar were backing ISIS. Why have arms deals continued to this day with those two "allied" countries? ISIS must love their US-made military equipment. So who needs reporting from NYT, WP or other Clinton fronts when one has access to WikiLeaks, wouldn't you agree?
ed gleason
4 months 1 week ago
Wallace is your man Wed. night, Trump and Wallace will take drug tests on stage (-:
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
I repeat that I don't have a dog in this fight. But the Hillary death cult of wordlwide promotion of war (especially in the ME) ,abortion and elite corruption -aided by so-called Catholics like Podesta- does push a lot of people towards Trump. I can't understand how people could sleep with a hypothetical President HRC staring and fixated with the nuclear codes at 3 AM. With regards to your comment on drug testing, I believe it was the Washington Post (later picked up by CNN) that started the claim of Trump being on cocaine during the last debate. He simply refuted the claim with a challange for a drug test for both presidential candidates. The hypocritical MSM is now acting "shocked". What does Hillary have to lose? I guess we will have to keep reading WikiLeaks to find out.
Kevin McDermott
4 months 1 week ago
Reading the eMail chain I can’t imagine how these exchanges can be called “anti-Catholic”. Here are three practicing Catholics discussing how to win voters to their cause. And so? If Jennifer Palmieri says influential right wingers are more comfortable rubbing shoulders with influential Catholics than with evangelicals, I think she’s right. Say I’m wrong. OK. But you can’t say I’m anti-Catholic. What strikes me in reading the eMails is how much evident thought the three have given to their faith. Even if we disagree with where they come out (and obviously we do) I can’t picture three people on the Trump team having this kind of back and forth about Catholicism and its place in the public square with such informed reflection. Call them wrong. Don’t call them anti-Catholic if you don’t like their conclusions. Or “enemies”. (For the party of personal responsibility Republicans have a persistent tic of looking outside themselves when things go wrong.) For years I’ve gawked at the right’s claims of “anti-Catholicism” when issues of faith are debated in our civil life. Lots of non-Catholics object to aspects of the faith but I’ve never heard anyone say “We’ve got to stop these papists now!” If they did the Supreme Court wouldn’t have enough members for a bridge game. Reckless language is not an argument. But the idea on the right seems to be, “Let’s say the angriest things we can and we'll see what sticks.” The long-term effect has been poisonous. And so we have this campaign.
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
Exactly ninety-nine years after one of the biggest miracles in human history, why do we still expect solutions from politicians that actively work against the Kingship of Jesus Christ? Haven't we had enough of false messiahs and crooks?
Gino Dalpiaz
4 months 1 week ago
THE WORST IS YET TO COME The erstwhile Party of the sick and poor, the worker, the immigrant, the unwashed has lost its soul and is now persecuting the descendants of those people because of their religious faith. "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). The late Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, showed extraordinary grace and prescience when he said: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square....” In 1946, Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemölle, a Protestant pastor in Germany – after he was freed from the concentration camp – pronounced these now famous words: When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
Carlos Orozco
4 months 1 week ago
Whatever you think of the freak Presidential Reality Show, no not lose sight on the preparations for a possible conflict between the US and Russia. DO NOT get distracted from the really important news item. The MSM is not giving it the attention in deserves; therefore, you know its serious. By the way, where is the Catholic anti-war movement? This is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Far more, and that invasion started the current disaster the ME finds itself today. An open conflict with Russia would sooner or later end up with thermonuclear war.

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