In defiance of her supporters’ wishes, her critics’ open calls, and even her own promises, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton continues to block the publication of transcripts from the speeches she gave to several banks, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, in 2013 and 2014. According to MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, however, Clinton may no longer have much of a choice.
As the Nevada caucuses were wrapping up on Saturday, Brzezinski mentioned off-handedly that she “[knew] a print reporter who has the actual transcripts, and they are working on this.” As you can see in the clip above, her on-air comment came in response to Bloomberg host and MSNBC guest John Heilemann’s argument that the lack of publicly-available transcripts encouraged reporters to seek out and record the recollections of bank employees who had attended the speeches—an imperfect process which has not been particularly flattering to Clinton. One attendee told Politico, for example, that the candidate “sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director” that a former Secretary of State.
Brzezinski did not elaborate on the identity, employer, or motivations of the unnamed reporter who apparently obtained access to the speech transcripts. But it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which such a leak was not carefully orchestrated by Clinton’s own press team. After all, access to the transcripts appears to be tightly controlled; in the years since she gave the speeches, no public report has ever directly quoted her verbatim remarks. And the candidate’s most recent effort to distract the public from the same transcripts—a bizarre gambit in which she stated during a Democratic town hall that “I am happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same”—quickly fizzled after her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, accepted her challenge by noting he had never given a single speech to a Wall Street firm.
By providing the transcripts to a carefully-vetted reporter, the Clinton camp would likely to maintain some control over the way the resulting story is presented. This is not to suggest the reporter—if this reporter is even real!—would allow a Clinton spokesperson to dictate the precise description and framing of the speech’s contents. It’s just to point out that such an article—if the article ever materializes!—would almost certainly feature detailed comments from Clinton’s camp about the speeches’ most noteworthy or controversial passages. Considering her recalcitrance thus far, we’re guessing there’s more than few of those.
It’s true, of course, that releasing the transcripts at all is a much-needed demonstration of transparency from a candidate who often seems allergic to the whole concept of transparency. But the act of publication is unlikely to mitigate the troubling fact that Clinton didn’t want them published in the first place. Indeed, if the speeches’ contents are sufficiently unsettling, it’s easy to see a new accusation gaining currency: That Clinton authorized the transcripts’ release only after the Nevada caucuses had vastly increased the odds of her nomination over an opponent who has repeatedly and enthusiastically criticized Wall Street’s avarice.
In any case, it’s hard to see how Clinton doesn’t release the speech transcripts at this point. Regardless of her campaign’s underlying strategy (or lack thereof), the corner into which she has painted herself doesn’t provide her many other options.