Whether or not the Russians actually hacked the DNC or Juliane Assange’s network of hackers did it, we the people need to remember WHAT was leaked and WHY it had the power to defeat She-Who-Would-Be-Queen. It’s not so much that Trump won the election, but that Clinton was rejected at the polls and he was the only alternative in most people’s minds.
When the first slug of emails were released in the summer, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as WikiLeak’s released nearly 20,000 emails and some of them were horribly damaging to the Democrats.
Many of the most damaging emails suggested the Democratic National Committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. I wasn’t a supporter of Bernie Sanders, but had the DNC not intervened, he likely would have been the Democratic nominee and … who knows … maybe there are enough economically challenged voters who would have made him President of the United States.
What if Democratic voters had known earlier what their party administration was doing to rig their primary system? The WikiLeaks revelations came late in the primaries, after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory, but they belied the national party committee’s stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.
So here’s just some examples of what WikiLeaks let the voters know.
On May 5, DNC officials appeared to conspire to raise Sanders’s faith as an issue and press on whether he was an atheist . This was an apparent attempt to steer evangelical voters in Kentucky and West Virginia to Clinton. Sanders is Jewish but has previously indicated that he’s not religious.
One email from DNC chief financial officer Brad Marshall read:
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
Marshall added in a later email: “It’s these Jesus thing.”
In response, DNC CEO Amy Dacey said: “Amen.”
Manipulative and dismissive of evangelicals. Way to go, guys! We feel so respected! How would Kentucky and West Virginia evangelicals have voted if they’d known they were being manipulated?
On May 17, after controversy erupted over the Nevada state Democratic convention and how fair the process was there, Wasserman Schultz herself took exception to Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver’s defense of his candidate’s supporters.
“Damn liar,” she wrote. “Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.”
I personally think the Sanders supporters were pretty violent, but the violence at the Nevada convention seemed to have been caused by the disenfranchisement of Sanders voters.
That wasn’t the only time Wasserman Schultz offered an unvarnished opinion about the Sanders operation. In one late-April email, she even questioned Sanders’s connection to the party.
Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do,” she said in response to a Politico story about Sanders saying the party hadn’t been fair to him.
Sanders, for what it’s worth, wasn’t a Democrat before entering the Democratic primary. He caucused with the party but has long been an independent.
In that way, Wasserman Schultz’s comments could be read simply as her defending her party; that she felt Sanders was attacking. Still her comment suggests a particularly dim view of Sanders that she didn’t feel the need to obscure in conversations with other DNC staff.
When the Sanders campaign alleged that the Clinton campaign was improperly using its joint fundraising committee with the DNC to benefit itself, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias offered the DNC guidance on how to respond.
“My suggestion is that the DNC put out a statement saying that the accusations the Sanders campaign are not true,” Elias said May 3 in response to an email about the issue sent by communications director Luis Miranda to other DNC stuff that copied Elias and another lawyer at his firm, Perkins Coie.
Elias continued: “The fact that CNN notes that you aren’t getting between the two campaigns is the problem. Here, Sanders is attacking the DNC and its current practice, its past practice with the POTUS and with Sec Kerry. Just as the RNC pushes back directly on Trump over ‘rigged system’, the DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful the the Democratic party.”
Elias’s guidance isn’t perhaps all that shocking; he’s Clinton’s lawyer, after all. But the fact that he was talking to the DNC about how to respond would appear to suggest coordination between the DNC and Clinton campaign against Sanders in this particular case.
On May 21, DNC national press secretary Mark Pautenbach suggested pushing a narrative that Sanders “never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.”
After detailing several arguments that could be made to push that narrative, Paustenbach concludes: “It’s not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together.”
Paustenbach’s suggestion, in that way, could be read as a defense of the committee rather than pushing negative information about Sanders. But this is still the committee pushing negative information about one of its candidates.
One of the chief complaints from Sanders and his supporters was a lack of debates. They said the fact that there were so few was intended to help Clinton by reducing her opponents’ exposure and their chances to knock her down.
After the Sanders campaign presumptuously declared that an agreement for an additional debate in California had been reached, Miranda responded to the Sanders campaign’s release on May 18 simply:
As noted, the release from the Sanders campaign was presumptuous in declaring that an agreement had been reached. Miranda could simply have been responding to the somewhat silly tactic. But the debate never actually happened, as the Clinton campaign later opted not to participate.
Many of these emails came as it was clear Clinton was going to win. In retrospect, that makes the apparent favoritism appear less offensive, but Sanders supporters disagreed because they recognized that he might have had a better chance of winning the nomination had the DNC had not been working against him.
There was plenty of DNC cheerleading for the race to simply be over — for Sanders to throw in the towel so that Clinton could be named the presumptive nominee. The party was supposed to be neutral even though the odds and delegate deficit for Sanders looked insurmountable and they wanted to be free of that lie.
On May 1, in response to Sanders again saying he would push for a contested convention, Wasserman Schultz said, “So much for a traditional presumptive nominee.”
The term “Bernie bro” — or “Berniebro,” depending on your style — over the course of the campaign became a kind of shorthand for the worst kind of Sanders supporter. These were the supporters who couldn’t be reasoned with, who verbally assaulted opponents, sometimes in very nasty ways.
Some in the DNC apparently used the pejorative to refer to one particular radio host seen as overly sympathetic to Sanders, Sirius XM’s Mark Thompson.
“Wait, this is a s––– topic,” Miranda wrote on May 4 after Thompson’s program director, David Guggenheim, requested an interview on a Clinton fundraising controversy. “Where is Guggenheim? Is he a Bernie Bro?”
“Must be a Bernie Bro,” DNC broadcast booker Pablo Manriquez responds. “Per Mark’s sage, I turned him down flat (and politely) and inquired into opportunities next week to talk about something else.
While the Sanders emails have gained the most attention, some of the more interesting emails involve a peek behind to curtain of how party officials talk about fundraising and major donors, even President Obama.
In one email on May 9, DNC mid-Atlantic and PAC finance director Alexandra Shapiro noted that Obama wouldn’t travel 20 minutes to help the party secure $350,000 in donations.
“He really won’t go up 20 minutes for $350k?” Shapiro wrote. “THAT’S f—ing stupid.”
DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan responded: “or he is the president of the united states with a pretty big day job.”
In a May 16 exchange about where to seat a top Florida donor, Kaplan declared that “he doesn’t sit next to POTUS!” — referring to Obama.
Here are some other things Kaplan and Shapiro said about donors, via Karen Tumulty and Tom Hamburger:
Kaplan directed Shapiro to put New York philanthropist Philip Munger in the prime spot, switching out Maryland ophthalmologist Sreedhar Potarazu. He noted that Munger was one of the largest donors to Organizing for America, a nonprofit that advocates for Obama’s policies. “It would be nice to take care of him from the DNC side,” Kaplan wrote.
Shapiro pushed back, noting that Munger had given only $100,600 to the party, while the Potarazu family had contributed $332,250.
In one email attachment from Erik Stowe, the finance director for Northern California, to Tammy Paster, a fundraising consultant, he lists the benefits given to different tiers of donors to the Democratic National Convention, which starts next week in Philadelphia. The tiers range from a direct donation of $66,800 to one of $467,600 to the DNC. The documents also show party officials discussing how to reward people who bundle between $250,000 to $1.25 million.
This particular email dump told Democratic voters that their primary system was rigged for a particular candidate. While that wouldn’t matter to die-hard Democrats who would have voted for the nominee no matter what, but independent voters who might have been convinced to vote Democrat were turned off by this in-party manipulation. I know here in Alaska, where 56% of voters are not registered with a party, independent voters tend to pay attention to issues like this. Some of the people I know who voted for Trump did so because they felt the Democrats had illegitimately pre-selected Clinton as the nominee. In the Lower 48, I know Democratically-leaning independents who stayed home on Election Day because they felt Hillary would win regardless and they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for them.
Whether or not Russia was involved in the WikiLeaks hacking of DNC emails, the CONTENT is what is important. This was information the voters had a right to know. Public officials should not have the right to manipulate our elections. So, now they’re whining that Russia “manipulated” the election, but in reality, the email dump REVEALED manipulation.