Former Secretary of State and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign staffers were so paranoid they actually thought the Russians would poison her via a handshake with her opposing candidate for president, Donald Trump, at one of their debates, a forthcoming book reveals.
The episode is recounted in the book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, an excerpt of which was obtained exclusively by Breitbart News ahead of the book’s publication. The book comes out next week.
Haberman’s book uncovers that senior advisers to Clinton actually believed—in an extreme state of paranoia—that Trump would engage in some kind of secret plot with the Russians to deliver a poison to her via handshake before the third debate in 2016. The remarkable scene, right out of the comedy The Interview where an entertainment show host who was set to interview a fictional Kim Jong-Un is approached by U.S. intelligence agents and taught to try to poison him during a handshake, is recounted in Haberman’s book.
Haberman writes of the 2016 campaign:
Democrats found themselves almost perpetually disoriented by autumn. During preparations for the third debate, Clinton’s team was disrupted by a warning from the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who said he had been told that Russians might try to poison Clinton through a handshake with Trump, to inflict a dramatic health episode during the debate.
Haberman writes that Clinton herself “did not take it seriously,” but that Ron Klain—who is now President Joe Biden’s White House chief of staff and was helping Clinton prepare for the debate—“wondered how Trump would poison Clinton but not himself.”
So Clinton’s then-Communications Director, Jennifer Palmieri—who now is a co-host of the Showtime series The Circus—set off to investigate whether Sen. Feinstein’s husbands concerns about Trump delivering Russian poison to Clinton during a handshake were valid.
“Her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, took the prospect seriously enough to check it out; the warning turned out to be mere speculation from a historian with no knowledge of Russian plans,” Haberman writes.
Even though Haberman’s claims that Hillary Clinton herself did not believe the concerns, there was no handshake between Clinton and Trump during that third debate.
This revelation is hardly the only salacious one about the Clintons in Haberman’s book. In addition to that finding, Haberman also reports that Clinton’s campaign lawyers attempted to shop flimsy unverifiable attacks against Trump to the New York Times—her publication—before the 2016 election, after pushing similarly shoddy attacks to the FBI.
“Clinton and her team felt wronged—by Comey and the FBI, by the email hacks, and by the media coverage, which they believed was stacked against them,” Haberman writes. “The campaign and prominent Democrats were frantic to get people to pay more attention to possible connections between Trump’s world and Russia, which the FBI had been investigating for months. A lawyer for the Clinton campaign helped seed funding for in-progress research led by a former British spy that resulted in a dossier filled with unconfirmed salacious allegations against Trump. They also focused on research into computer servers used by his company; people connected to the campaign then gave the information, claiming the Trump Organization was communicating with a Russian state bank, to the FBI. A campaign lawyer pitched my New York Times colleagues on a story about the server activity and the FBI investigation into it. But after several discussions with the reporters, the evidence did not support the incendiary claim.”