Whistleblower website WikiLeaks has been dumping hacked emails pertaining to the workings of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for weeks now. The emails, 50,000 of them apparently, were all hacked from the account of a senior Clinton aide, John Podesta.
Chairman of the Clinton campaign John Podesta rose to the spotlight this election season when his personal Gmail account was reportedly compromised by Russian hackers who passed the emails on to WikiLeaks. The campaign has not verified the authenticity of these emails.
Here are 10 quick facts on the 67-year-old Democrat.
1. Podesta was born in Chicago to an to an Italian-American father and Greek-American mother. His father, who dropped out of high school, worked in factories to push his children through college. Like his father, Podesta is a practicing Catholic but also embraces his mother’s Greek Orthodox side.
2. Before his job as Clinton’s campaign manager, Podesta served as White House Counselor to President Barack Obama from January 2014 to February 2015. During this time, he played a crucial role in pushing the Obama administration into adopting a hard stance on environment policies, which include more protection for public land and support at the state and local levels in reducing carbon emissions.
3. He founded the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute, in 2003. He also co-founded the Podesta Group-- Washington’s fourth-biggest lobbying firm, which boasts of several corporate ties—with his brother, Tony Podesta.
4. Podesta also served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and as Bill Clinton’s staff secretary before that. As staff secretary, Podesta had to handle all the scandals that came the White House’s way during Bill Clinton’s first term so the president could work on policies.
5. When the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light, he admitted that President Clinton lied to him saying: “I think he was embarrassed by the situation he was in. I think he was trying to keep it a secret… It was wrongful. And I think he's admitted that.”
6. Podesta and Hillary Clinton didn’t always have a smooth relationship though. When he headed the investigation into Travelgate, his report on the then-First Lady’s role in the scandal was surprisingly critical. No charges came out of the investigation but it did harm their relationship.
7. The 67-year-old is a huge fan of extraterrestrial lore. He reportedly had a small “The X-Files” shrine in his White House office when working for the Clintons. He once wrote that his “biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere.”
8. In the leaked emails, Podesta seemed to believe his “only real talent” is cooking, something he picked up from his mother. The leak revealed he liked to cook with other people and people go to him for culinary advice.
9. Podesta reportedly did not make things difficult for his hackers. He was tricked by a phishing email telling him his account had been compromised and asking him to alter his password.
10. Podesta was mad at the U.S. dentist who shot Cecil the lion in 2015, the hack revealed. “What an a------,” he wrote of Walter Palmer. But he wasn’t too interested in a Think Progress article on Nicki Minaj’s relationship with her own posterior that an acquaintance forwarded to him. “Gender and racial and booty equity,” he replied.