Examining Podesta’s PizzaGate E-Mails: Are They Actually Coded?

The media has taken on a clearly one-sided look at the entire PizzaGate scandal. Whether there’s any merit to the claims or not, the entire thing has been buried under the “fake news” appellation before receiving any notable scrutiny. The e-mails themselves have also not been thoroughly discussed by the mainstream media, forfeiting readers an opportunity to examine the Podesta e-mails and decide for themselves what they actually mean.

Originally, PizzaGate citizen investigators claimed that some of the e-mail exchanges between John Podesta – Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager – and associates seemed coded. They used the chart below and related it to some of the e-mail messages found throughout the Wikileaks dump of John Podesta’s hacked account.

Some of those terms have been around for a while, such as “cheese pizza”, which has an entry dating back to 2010 on Urban Dictionary related to “child pornography”.

For instance one of the e-mails, dated April 11th, 2015, from Jim Steyers reads…

“Hey John, We know you’re a true master of cuisine and we have appreciated that for years … But walnut sauce for the pasta? Mary, plz tell us the straight story, was the sauce actually very tasty? Love to all the Podestas from the Steyers! Cheers,”
John Podesta responds saying…

“It’s an amazing Ligurian dish made with crushed walnuts made into a paste. So stop being so California.”

Mary Podesta chimes into the chain with the following message…

“Walnut growing northern CA surely knows and celebrates walnut pasta sauce? Actually what surprises me is that we haven’t already served it to you.”

Jim Steyers ends the chain by writing…

“Indeed, Mary. :). I’m coming to town the week after next and will bring some walnuts!”

Now some people thought that the chain was coded, but it honestly reads like a back and forth about walnut sauce when taken at face value. Some thought it was about bringing “colored” persons to the Podesta’s place. As a coded message it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because Mary directly cites a Lithuanian recipe for walnut sauce, and yes… there is a Ligurian walnut sauce recipe… in fact the Food Network has a page for “Pasta with Walnut Sauce” based on the Ligurian recipe.

In this particular case, changing the wording around to mean something other than an actual pasta with walnut sauce recipe doesn’t make any sense in any sort of context. Eleanor Clift from The Daily Beast also messaged Podesta on April 10th, 2015 asking about connecting and establishing a rapport, and possibly getting a taste of the walnut sauce and pasta recipe. The message and tone seemed innocuous enough, and again, both the syntax and the context just makes more sense if it’s actually about pasta and walnut sauce.

So is that particular e-mail chain coded? Unlikely.

But what about the more opaque messages from January, 2014? Tony Podesta, John’s brother, asks if Mary and John will be free for dinner. Mary states that January 12th and 13th is for “John’s hand surgery”. She asks how long Tony will be back in town, he responds saying he’ll be back on the 12th but he may have to head to Somalia and to “give me some dates”.

John responds that the 12th “might work” and ends the message by saying “Somilia? Geez.”

Tony responds saying that Mary may not be free and that…

“Would love to get a pizza for an hour? Or come over”

John asks if he’s free Sunday afternoon and Tony tells him…

“Yes […] Only wanna see you and mike Berman”

John ends the chain by saying he’ll call him when he gets back. Now this exchange left a lot of people questioning if “Pizza” was being used in some sort of coded context. Now it could simply be that Tony really loves Pizza, was going to be in the D.C., area for a short time and really wanted to schedule a meeting with his brother to eat pizza for an hour. It’s not really that implausible.

Of course… the question arises: why not just order delivery? There are at least 18 places within the immediate D.C., area that deliver.

The phrasing of having an hour to eat pizza raised some red flags. Some thought that if we’re going by the coded lingo, it would mean Tony has about an hour to spare with a little girl, or they could work things out if John is coming over. In context, that definitely seems to take on a far more ominous tone, especially if we replace the word “pizza” with “girl”, in which case Tony would be saying: “Would love to get a girl for an hour? Or come over.”

The only caveat here is that Tony was hoping Mary Podesta would come over, and it seems to lessen the possibility of something sinister happening if John’s wife is involved. Some people theorize that Mary may be in on it; some thing it’s just over-analyzing wanting to get pizza for an hour.

However, Tony only wanting to see John and Mike sounds like it might have been some kind of private affair. Why not just say where they could meet up? Or again… order in delivery? The cryptic phrasing in this one does make one question. As a standalone chain this doesn’t seem to likely be a coded message… however… these chains aren’t entirely standalone.

Is there a likelihood that this chain is a coded message? Possibly.

The reason for the last message being a coded message has to do with a message from September 2nd, 2014, where realtor Kathryn Tate messaged Susan Sandler to let her know that John Podesta left a handkerchief behind while touring one of the houses at Vineyard Haven, writing…

“I just came from checking the Field house and I have a square cloth handkerchief (white w/ black) that was left on the kitchen island. Happy to send it via the mail if you let me know where I should send it. I also meant to inquire yesterday about the pillows you purchased. I can send them as well, if you let me know where they are in the house. Safe travels to all”

Susan Sandler forwards a message to John Podesta, writing…

“[…] The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related. Is it yorus? They can send it if you want. I know you’re busy, so feel free not to respond if it’s not yours or you don’t want it.”

Now if this is a standard message with no coding whatsoever, it’s hard to justify. First of all, why would John Podesta write on a handkerchief a map for something “pizza-related” when he has an iPad? We know he has an iPad and an iPhone because it shows that his messages were sent from Apple’s devices, like in the September 12th, 2015 e-mail between John and Tony that reveals they have Apple devices. Saving locations of restaurants is pretty easy with today’s smart devices, so what gives with the map?

It’s kind of hard to justify other than that maybe John and Mary didn’t bring along their iPhones or iPads, and neither did Susan. So John wrote down the directions to get to a pizza parlor on a handkerchief he had on hand.

If we go by the conspiracy theory lingo, the “map” that’s “pizza-related” would relate to semen and a little girl. But the question becomes: why would the realtor have it and why would John leave something as… personal as that behind? While the “pizza-related” map definitely sounds like code word for something other than a map of a pizza parlor, part of this theory loses it charm when factoring in that Susan Sandler and the realtor Kathryn Tate are well aware of said map. This would mean that they would have to be in on it for this aspect of the theory to retain any kind of plausibility.

Nevertheless, one can’t discount the fact that drawing a map of something “pizza-related” (and the wording here doesn’t signify if it’s a parlor or a delivery service or what) is absolutely odd, especially when you can just save locations on your phone. The only drawback here is that other people are seemingly involved, including a realtor, which makes it harder to justify this message being coded.

So what’s the possibility of this chain being a coded message? Undecided.

Later on in December, 2015 a Herbert Sandler sent John and Mary a thank you message about “Cheese”.

Sandler’s message reads…

“I think you should give notice when changing strategies which have been long in place. I immediately realized something was different by the shape > of the box and I contemplated who would be sending me something in the square shaped box. Lo and behold, instead of pasta and wonderful sauces, it was a lovely, tempting assortment of cheeses, Yummy.


I am awaiting the return of my children and grandchildren from their holiday travels so that > we can demolish them. Thank you so much. I hope you and your gang are well. I miss you both Best wishes fro a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”


“[…] Ps. Do you think I’ll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?”

This was one of the messages that caught the attention of quite a few people, especially the last part about “dominos”, though some people feel Herb meant to write “dominoes”.

And here’s where the confusion comes in: Herb doesn’t explicitly mention what he means at all. Even at face value some of these words are referring to things not explained in the e-mail. So for this particular e-mail, both PizzaGate and anti-PizzaGate people have summarized their own take on what this particular message means.

On one side of the table some people think that Herb was writing about playing a game of dominoes with the kids, and he was jokingly wondering if he would be a better player at dominoes either on a full stomach of pasta or a full stomach of cheese?

On the other side of the table some people have equated the message to mean something a lot darker. “Cheese” relates to little girls while “Pasta” relates to little boys. Some tried tying the word “domino” to a shorthand version of “domination” to represent certain sex acts, others pointed to the fact that it’s sometimes used as a slang for drugs, according to Urban Dictionary.

As a drug term it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless it relates to smoking opium off the bodies of little girls or little boys. As a term for domination, the coded messages make a little more sense, in which case Herb would be asking…

“Do you think I’ll do better playing [domination] on [little girls] than on [little boys]?”

Others discuss the possibility of Herb’s “grandchildren” and “kids” actually being BDSM underlings. Of course, some people think it’s too sinister to be true, and that Herb is actually just talking about playing a game of dominoes with friends and relatives for Christmas.

The biggest problem with that particular e-mail chain is that the vague wording (despite being detailed when describing some elements) makes it feel like it could go either way. Sadly, that e-mail has no literal interpretation and the mainstream media have glossed over it in terms of trying to explain its meaning.

So what’s the likelihood that it’s coded? Well, it is coded… we just don’t know if it can be interpreted to be completely innocent or very sinister.

Another message, dated October 8th, 2015 from Tamera Luzzatto, senior vice president of government relations at the Pew Charitable Trusts Organization, also raised red flags amongst the PizzaGate investigators for a couple of reasons. Luzzatto’s message pertained to inviting people over to the farm, where she wrote…

“With enormous gratitude to Advance Man Extraordinaire Haber, I am popping up again to share our excitement about the Reprise of Our Gang’s visit to the farm in Lovettsville. And I thought I’d share a couple more notes: We plan to heat the pool, so a swim is a possibility. Bonnie will be Uber Service to transport Ruby, Emerson, and Maeve Luzzatto (11, 9, and almost 7) so you’ll have some further entertainment, and they will be in that pool for sure. And with the forecast showing prospects of some sun, and a cooler temp of lower 60s, I suggest you bring sweaters of whatever attire will enable us to use our outdoor table with a pergola overhead so we dine al fresco (and ideally not al-CHILLo).

So a couple of things… John and Mary Podesta don’t have kids, so the three kids they’re bringing to the pool won’t be there to interact with John and Mary’s kids. Another thing that people thought odd was that Tamera would specifically list their ages and then say that the adults will “have some further entertainment” given that they will be in the pool “for sure”.

PizzaGate’s citizen investigators tend to think that the wording is bizarre for a get-together consisting mainly of adults. I have yet to read any counter-arguments about Tamera’s message or how else it can be interpreted. Naming young children who will be in a pool during October – in 60 degree weather, no less – in order to provide “entertainment” for adults becomes hard to contextualize in any other way than how it’s presented at face value.

Like, what kind of entertainment are they providing? Why were the kids’ ages listed? And why should John Podesta care if he doesn’t have kids of his own?

Rationalizing this particular e-mail has oftentimes gone ignored by people critical of PizzaGate but if you have an explanation feel free to share it in the comment section.

So what’s the likelihood that this message is coded? Well, there are no code words this time around. The message just out and out says that kids will be provided as entertainment for adults.

Another message between James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, and John Podesta from September 28th, 2008 also caught the attention of PizzaGate’s citizen investigators. Alefantis wrote…

“Hello. Some young lawyer type friends of mine are hosting an Obama Fundraiser at Comet Ping Pong on Thursday Night and then watching the debate. Should be about 150 people and they are raising between 25 and 35 thousand dollars. Would you be willing to stop by around 8 o’clock or so and make a little speech. They (and I) would be thrilled to have you of course. I understand if you are not available. Also, I saw that you are reading at Politics & Prose soon. What can we do afterward? Would you like to have a dinner at my places?!? Big or small. What do you think? See you soon.”

John Podesta personally responded to Alefantis, writing…

“I can probably get there around 8:30. Love to do somethind after politics and prose. Catch up on that early in the week.”

It could just be odd syntax structuring that makes some of the messages read more nefarious than what they are, but some people thought that the “Big or small” could be clues and found it a little odd that they would be having a fundraiser at a pizza parlor but would have dinner at Alefantis’ other “places”.

Again, this could all be syntax issues, and Alefantis may have meant to say that after the fundraiser they could have dinner at one of his places. The “Big or small” phrase is still kind of confusing, but perhaps he could be talking about a big or small dinner? It’s an odd turn of phrase, but it could just be that.

Of course, on the opposite side of the spectrum some people thought that perhaps “Big or small” related to the child size. It was also assumed by some that Podesta may have met up with Alefantis at one of his other places, presumably what they’ve labeled as the “kill room”. Of course, it’s all impressions and creative interpretation since there’s no hard facts to back any of it up.

But is there a likelihood that this particular message chain was coded? Possibly.

On October 4th, 2008 in a follow-up e-mail chain to the message above, James Alefantis contacts Podesta, writing…

“Great show! Great speech. Raised over 40 grand. My only regret is I did not make you a nice pizza. When can I?”

The significance of this e-mail is that it does answer one of the questions raised in regard to the last chain: they did have the fundraiser at Comet Ping Pong and there was pizza involved, but Alefantis says he regrets not making Podesta a pizza, and asks “When can I?”

It’s once again an odd phrase. If Podesta was there and eating pizza, what did it matter if Alefantis made it or not? And why the insistence of personally making one? If he was making pizzas while everyone was there for the fundraiser, wouldn’t Podesta potentially have eaten it at some point?

It’s such a strange thing say when so many people at the fundraiser were being served pizza regardless.

Of course, in his own words to Washington City Paper, Alefantis simply explained that “pizza’s always a big thing in politics”.

On the other side of the table, some PizzaGate theorists purported that Alefantis was referring to serving up a young child for Podesta personally.

The likelihood of the message being coded? Undecided. The odd phrasing just stands out so much, especially when taken into context with his previous message of saying that afterward Podesta could dine at one of his places, even though he was already at the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria! The logistics don’t add up.

One of the last messages to get scrutinized for possible code words was sent on September 9th, 2015 between John and Tony Podesta. It’s a short discussion about inviting people over. John repeatedly insists on doing “a pasta”. Tony reminds him that there will be others coming over as well. The message starts pretty normally, with John writing…

“How about if I do a pasta course and maybe grill some pork tenderloin. You do the sides?Happy to do everything also and you can do the wine.”

Tony responds cryptically, writing…

“We have 5 of us pick one or other”

John repeats that he’s doing “a pasta”…

“Who are the other three? I’ll do a pasta.”

Tony responds by listing off Massimo from Tosca, James Alefantis from Comet Ping Pong and Amy Brandwein from Centrolina. John insists on doing “a pasta”…

“Ok if I do a pasta?”

The first message seemed normal at first, but when Tony lists off the others attending he doesn’t mention what they’ll be making or why he tells John to “pick one or other”. As if there’s some sort of limited supply.

Throughout the exchange John repeatedly keeps asking to “do a pasta”, never saying he’ll “make a pasta” or “cook a pasta” or “steam a pasta”.

Of course, the odd phrasing is consistent with many of the other messages between the Podestas and some of their friends. Art provocateur Marina Abramovic explained that in the inner circle… “We just call things funny names, that’s all.”

In this case, it’s not so much calling things funny names but simply referring to them in odd ways. Of course, skeptics claim that it’s an innocuous series of messages between Tony and John, and nothing is out of the ordinary. PizzaGate citizen investigators mentioned what was mentioned above about phrasing and references to pasta.

The real question is if that e-mail chain is coded? Undecided.

Of course, the messages alone don’t really mean anything but when considering them for being coded they do seem to take on a different personality, if one decides to view them that way. There’s nothing concrete there, but those e-mails have kicked up quite the conversation on the internet, so much so that Reddit, Twitter and YouTube are trying to censor discussion at all costs.