Debunked: Podesta's "Wet Works" Refers to Assassinations [Firing People & Other Unpopular Tasks]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

Podesta Wet Works Martha.jpg

Summary: By "wet works" Podesta was referring to personnel changes in the Clinton Campaign after the disastrous 20 point loss to Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary that day.

In an email that John Podesta sent to Steve Elmendorf, he said:

"Didn't think wet works meant pool parties at the Vineyard"

Since this email was sent four days before Justice Scalia's death it is being promoted as evidence that Scalia was assassinated. By all accounts, including Scalia's family, he died of natural causes. But what of this small piece of evidence? Is that true that Podesta could only be referring to an assassination?

Look at the context of the email. Elmendorf talks of a "rough night", and the date is Feb 9, 2016. That's the day of the New Hampshire primary, which was won decisively by Bernie Sanders, finishing 20 points ahead of Clinton. That's obviously what the "rough night" refers to. The most likely thing that "wet works" refers to is the subsequent bloodletting within the Clinton Campaign - i.e. firing people. Described in the media as a potential "bloodbath".

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiep...n-bloodbath-after-new-hampshire-loss-n2117430

Get Ready For The Hillary Campaign Bloodbath After New Hampshire Loss
Hillary and Bill Clinton are so dissatisfied with their campaign’s messaging and digital operations they are considering staffing and strategy changes after what’s expected to be a loss in Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire, according to a half-dozen people with direct knowledge of the situation.
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The term was also used by Keith Olbermann
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22574559/...atthews/t/new-hampshire-primary-coverage-jan/
OLBERMANN: There‘ve been stories all day, Andrea, of nothing less than a blood bath in terms of the hierarchy of the Clinton campaign.
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"Wet works" or just "wetwork" is actually an a euphemism for murder or assassination, however the usage is not limited to that - it can also mean tough or distasteful work. While it's not a common phrase, a brief search of the internet shows several usages that do not involve killing people. In fact it most commonly is used in the context of staff reorganizations with terminations.

https://www.ft.com/content/08fd0306-14c6-11dd-a741-0000779fd2ac
Financal Times, 2009

How many of you have brand police jealously protecting your message, eager to rough up, kneecap or generally dispose of staff that in any way tarnish the corporate image you are so keen to protect?

No one feels proud of sanctioning this PR “wet work”, but we reconcile it with the fact that the company is more important than the individual.
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Notice the other similar words there: "rough up", "kneecap", "dispose of". Clearly these are meant figuratively, as it's just an article about encouraging people to speak up in boardroom debates. The reference is about getting rid of team members who are not working out. Just like with the Clinton campaign.

https://books.google.com/books?id=sdKQDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA141&lpg=PA141
Up in the Air was a ... film that featured George Clooney playing Ryan Bingham, a road warrior whose job is to travel around the country firing people. This company does contract "wet work" for corporate executives who are too timid to do their own firing
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http://www.politicalcortadito.com/2013/11/26/miami-beach-aides-fired-hired/
The Vice Mayor also confirmed that there had been pressure to fire Fernandez and that she had been threatened with losing the finance committee (read: relevance on the commission) and choice boards if she made any move to save Fernandez.

“Nothing directly from the mayor,” she said, and everybody knows that Miranda is the one doing Levine’s wet work.

But even though the mayor has the right to fire Fernandez, via the charter, it certainly looks like the wrong thing to do.
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Again, "wet work" refers to getting rid of staff by firing them, not killing them.

http://slippedisc.com/2012/02/high-flying-asian-orchestra-runs-into-heavy-weather/
Since Kees’s termination in January, the MPO has been Claus Peter Flor’s world and things have been in an aggressive downward spiral. His concerts haven’t been able to draw more than 500 people into the hall and it’s become pretty clear that concertgoers are starting to catch a whiff of what kind of person he really is. Mr. Flor has a few lunch/dinner/coffee goons within the orchestra with whom he had wrongfully confided that ‘he knew which people in the orchestra were most against him and that he would have his revenge’. He has obviously held true to his promise. However, he has made a gross miscalculation because Mr. Flor obviously doesn’t see the fact that, after the MPO Management is finished having him do their ‘wet work’ for them, they will undoubtedly dispose of him post haste. As for his goons, these people are well aware that they don’t have the goods to win other jobs, so they just want to ride the MPO to the ground while staying as safe as possible.
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Again this is referring to staff changes, terminating people.

It's not limited to that usage though:
http://ched-macquigg.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html
If the decision making that will start the sagger wars again, included the teachers and staff members who will be expected to do the wet work of enforcing an unpopular dress code, I doubt they would have adopted this issue as a hill they're willing to die on.
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Even the Conservative leaning Fox News has used the term similarly, in a political campaign context.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/24/state-union-key-to-obama-election-re-branding.html
Until now, Romney had been able to rely on other conservatives to do the dirty work when it came to bringing down whomever the top Not Romney of the moment was. Michele Bachmann was most adept at this wet work, prompting a Romney staffer once to brag to a Washington Post columnist that she would “rip [Rick Perry’s] eyes out” just as she had done to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. And she did, too.
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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/01/can-newt-end-gops-conservative-cannibalism.html
Romney had to rouse himself to attack Perry, and did so often – slamming Perry from the left as too radical on Social Security, from the right as too weak on illegal immigration and always as a career politician. Perry’s stammering responses to Romney’s cool cutting helped send the Texan down to the second tier in fast fashion, but Bachmann, Cain, Santorum and Paul did the wet work.
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"Wet work" has also been used in the sense of political work that does not look good, for example Richard Nixon's early years in politics:
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/summer-of-nixon-109378_Page4.html#.WAF-o5PyvmE
Born and reared in the California outback, Nixon scratched his way from utter obscurity to the vice presidency of the United States in only six years. That rapid rise may have doomed him—depriving him, as it did, of tempering experience. He could campaign with repellent unctuousness, salted with snarl and insinuation. He won a House seat in 1946, and a Senate seat in 1950, by portraying his opponents as the dupes of communism. In the 1952 and 1956 elections, as the Republican vice presidential candidate, he handled the political wet work for Dwight Eisenhower, letting Ike soar above the fray.
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I don't think they are suggesting Nixon was assassinating people for Eisenhower.

And in similar but more obscure usage referring to political (non-killing) dirty work.
https://www.facebook.com/secularsch...6994147695787/747485828646613/?type=1&theater
Well it's official, the United Jewish Education Board and the Australian Christian Lobby have railroaded Minister Dixon, and he's now publically going against the advice of his own Department.

Read and weep. This is a stunning blow to our campaign, and blight on our society. These groups should be ashamed ... but alas, here they are proudly showing their political wet work. This is not education, folks, this is special interest politics at its worst.
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And here's the Koch Brothers, their "wet work" seems to be the Super PACs and targeted ads.
http://www.salon.com/2012/07/10/the_untold_story_of_koch_twins_and_mitt_romney/
Charles and David, together (and they seem to do everything together), own the world’s second largest privately held company, are worth tens of billions of dollars and operate a vast and powerful network of right-wing political organizations trying to take down President Obama. For their political wet work, the Koch brothers have become boogeymen of the left and heroes of the libertarian-leaning right. For critics, the fundraiser was a manifestation of everything wrong with the country’s current campaign finance regime.
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Some more obscure usage:

Even John McCain had lawyers doing "wet work" for him.
http://www.metafilter.com/75311/Sarah-Palin-may-be-a-better-debater-than-you-think
Oh man, things are getting hot in Alaska this evening. The right wing law firm doing the McCain campaign's wet work on troopergate was slapped down in court today -- the Branchflower report can come out. Now comes word (Mudflats) of an emergency filing to stop the report, with the Alaska state supreme court, which has agreed to hear the motion. More at Anchorage Daily News.
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http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x2347960
Just watched the video of Matt Lauer attempting to do the Bush's wet work, and had a thought:
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And of course, Trump:
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog...ubio_shows_character_assassination_works.html
Trump's wet work against Rubio shows character assassination works
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Bob Woodward used the term "wet work" in his book "The Price of Politics"
https://books.google.com/books?id=RaGDAAAAQBAJ&pg=PT107
As the group gathered in Room S219 on the Senate side of the Capitol on May 24, day four of their meetings, Jack Lew was seeking someone to do some political wet work. Before everyone was seated, he pulled Van Hollen aside.
Will you take on Baucus on farm subsidies? he asked
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And a minor clarification of the quote, "the Vineyard" is a common term for Martha's Vineyard - a popular retreat for the rich and powerful, and a place where Clinton had been many times. Note the capitalization.
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.
"Wet works" or just "wetwork" is actually an old KGB term for assassination
This "supporting" ink to an English Wikipedia article is rather odd, because there is no equivalent Russian article in Wikipedia. Nevertheless, it refers to a common Russian expression "мокрое дело" (literary, "wet case"), which is not specifically related to KGB or its predecessors. It came from Russian criminal slang, where it meant a crime that resulted in homicide.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This "supporting" ink to an English Wikipedia article is rather odd, because there is no equivalent Russian article in Wikipedia. Nevertheless, it refers to a common Russian expression "мокрое дело" (literary, "wet case"), which is not specifically related to KGB or its predecessors. It came from Russian criminal slang, where it meant a crime that resulted in homicide.

Thanks, I've removed the KGB reference, but left the link to Wikipedia. The etymology isn't too important, just the US English usage.
 
...Summary: By "wet works" Podesta was referring to personnel changes in the Clinton Campaign after the disastrous 20 point loss to Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary that day. ...

This is a good analysis and probably correct, but I found another possible explanation.

Wikileaks has one other e-mail exchange between Podesta and Elmendorf from exactly 1 week earlier, in which Elmendorf mentions "talking the bedwetters off the ledge". Could be that "wet works" is a joke in reply to this.

https://www.wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3188

Re: congrats
From:john.podesta@gmail.com To: elmendorf@teamsubjectmatter.com Date: 2016-02-02 18:56 Subject: Re: congrats

Thx On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Steve Elmendorf < elmendorf@teamsubjectmatter.com> wrote: > We won. Raising money today, talking the bedwetters off the ledge and > heading to NH for a long weekend …let me know what else I can do > > > > > > > > > > > > [image: cid:30DBFE98-7C93-49FC-B804-BB91838D43D1] > > > > Steve Elmendorf > > o: 202-737-1655 // c: 202-997-2585 > > TeamSubjectMatter.com <http://teamsubjectmatter.com/> > > > > >

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Wikileaks has one other e-mail exchange between Podesta and Elmendorf from exactly 1 week earlier, in which Elmendorf mentions "talking the bedwetters off the ledge". Could be that "wet works" is a joke in reply to this.

Podesta already replied to that on the same day. With "Thx"

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3188

Re: congrats
From:john.podesta@gmail.com To: elmendorf@teamsubjectmatter.com Date: 2016-02-02 18:56 Subject: Re: congrats

Thx


On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Steve Elmendorf < elmendorf@teamsubjectmatter.com> wrote:

> We won. Raising money today, talking the bedwetters off the ledge and
> heading to NH for a long weekend …let me know what else I can do

> > > > > > > > > > > > [image: cid:30DBFE98-7C93-49FC-B804-BB91838D43D1] > > > > Steve Elmendorf > > o: 202-737-1655 // c: 202-997-2585 > > TeamSubjectMatter.com <http://teamsubjectmatter.com/> > > > > >

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Just another reference to firing people as "wet work"
http://www.fakesteve.net/2007/02/wet-work.html

Wet work

So you’re IBM. You’ve got thousands of dead-wood lifers hanging around doing nothing but you don’t have the stomach to purge them. What do you do? You move them into your PC group, then sell that group to the Chinese, and let them do the wet work for you.
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesl...e-dumbest-thing-a-ceo-ever-said/#2d5031d711a1
Like any parent, Mark took it personally when someone quit. Despite his charisma, he wasn’t a natural leader. Whenever pink slips were imminent, he’d duck out of the office, leaving the wet work to others. We used to call him a coward for this. But we were naive. We didn’t appreciate the enormous responsibility of holding a company together—and the shame that comes with falling short.
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Snopes has offered a slightly different explanation:

...e-mails between staffers just prior to the 9 February 2016 document revealed planning for a coordinated effort to plant a negative story about Sanders in the press in the days prior to the 9 February 2016 e-mail and article. On the date Podesta discussed "wet work" with Elmendorf, MSNBC published the coverage sought by Clinton's staffers on 6 and 7 February 2016. ...
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The negative story related to Sanders' attendance at lavish Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee retreats held at Martha's Vineyard.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Snopes has offered a slightly different explanation:

...e-mails between staffers just prior to the 9 February 2016 document revealed planning for a coordinated effort to plant a negative story about Sanders in the press in the days prior to the 9 February 2016 e-mail and article. On the date Podesta discussed "wet work" with Elmendorf, MSNBC published the coverage sought by Clinton's staffers on 6 and 7 February 2016. ...
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The negative story related to Sanders' attendance at lavish Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee retreats held at Martha's Vineyard.

Possible. The main point here is that the usage of the term by a campaign manager has several possible meanings, most of which are vastly more likely than "assassinating a supreme court judge, ha ha".
 

1988

New Member
Okay, thank you that does seem likely. But what about "pool party" ? Scalia was on a overnight retreat with members of his hunting club, this could be referred to as a social party, or hunting party. The pool aspect could tie into the wet aspect of the previous sentence.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Okay, thank you that does seem likely. But what about "pool party" ? Scalia was on a overnight retreat with members of his hunting club, this could be referred to as a social party, or hunting party. The pool aspect could tie into the wet aspect of the previous sentence.
you're seriously reaching now. of course the pool aspect ties in with the 'wet works' term, that's why he chose 'pool party'.. because they are wet.

"I didnt think wet works meant the hunting party at the Ranch".. makes no sense as far as what you seem to be implying.
 

SRV

New Member
I don't see any link to explain the vineyard ref (a capital letter?)... it was the most suspicious element for me.

On first read of the email my first move was to research the site of the event... 'bout fell off my chair when I got to an aerial view of the property and saw, the Vineyard... and the Pool.

So, a key element is debunked because of a capital letter... there is no connection between the staff firing theory and a vineyard, why?

And btw, I don't see any data on the firings either... how many, who, and what position? I don't recall any significant moves (Clinton kept DWS on after she was proven to be as dishonest as common criminal) by the campaign!
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
I don't see any link to explain the vineyard ref (a capital letter?)... it was the most suspicious element for me.

On first read of the email my first move was to research the site of the event... 'bout fell off my chair when I got to an aerial view of the property and saw, the Vineyard... and the Pool.

So, a key element is debunked because of a capital letter... there is no connection between the staff firing theory and a vineyard, why?

And btw, I don't see any data on the firings either... how many, who, and what position? I don't recall any significant moves (Clinton kept DWS on after she was proven to be as dishonest as common criminal) by the campaign!
It's pretty much described in the OP. The Vineyard is probably Martha's Vineyard. Unless you have evidence to the contrary.
 
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