Thousands of leaked emails have sealed the fate of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s uneven five-plus-year tenure as DNC chair.
Wasserman Schultz’s resignation announcement came as a bad situation kept getting worse – and appears as though it might continue to do so. WikiLeaks has released nearly 20,000 emails, new details are still being discovered and there is still the prospect of additional, damaging emails coming to light.
Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Basically, all of these examples came late in the primary – after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory – but they belie the national party committee’s stated neutrality in the race, even at that late stage.
Below are some of the controversial emails.
Targeting Sanders’ religion?
On May 5, DNC officials appeared to conspire to raise Sanders’s faith as an issue and press on whether he was an atheist. Sanders is Jewish, but has previously indicated that he’s not religious.
One email from DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall read: “It might make 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, CEO Amy Dacey said: “Amen.”
Sanders aide called a ‘damn liar’
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.”
Sanders has ‘no understanding’ of the party
In one late-April email, Wasserman Schultz 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.
Clinton lawyer gives advice
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 staffers 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.”
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.”