Clinton staffer doesn’t recognize controversial email about Catholics

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DES MOINES, IA - NOVEMBER 14: Hillary Clinton 2016 Campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri speaks to members of the media after a presidential debate sponsored by CBS at Drake University on November 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Hillary Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri dismissed backlash around an off-color email she sent about Catholic Republicans in 2011, noting that she is Catholic and that she doesn’t “recognize that email.”

The email came to light as part of hacked emails, released by Wikileaks, that US officials were obtained by Russian actors.

The 2011 email is between John Podesta, the subject of the hack and Clinton’s campaign chairman, Palmieri and John Halpin, a senior fellow at the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress.

In the email, Halpin writes that 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp Chairman Robert Thomson, who are both Catholic, are attracted to the faith because of “systemic thought and severely backward gender relations.”

Palmieri responded: “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable, politically conservative religion — their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelical.”

The email has earned scorn from conservative Catholics and the Trump campaign, who hosted a conference call with reporters to blast the Clinton campaign.

And Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, highlighted the email Wednesday during remarks at Liberty University.

“If only on behalf of her Catholic running mate, 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,” Pence said.

Palmieri told reporters on Wednesday that she “didn’t recognize (the email) but moreover … we are not going to fact check each of the emails that were stolen, hacked by Russian-lead efforts in an effort to hurt our campaign.”

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