E-mail and Hillary Clinton: The two seem to go together like oil and water. Whenever the two appear together in an article — much less the same sentence — there is bound to be scandal. Now, as Clinton approaches the official announcement of her nomination as the Democrat candidate in the upcoming presidential race, scandal is once again afoot. This e-mail scandal, though, appears to run through the very center of the DNC.
As a direct result of WikiLeaks publishing a nearly 20,000 DNC e-mails, the Clinton campaign and the DNC itself are scrambling for damage control. In fact, the DNC chairperson, Congresswoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz, has resigned over the scandal. Some of those e-mails show DNC leadership discussing plans to directly manipulate events to favor Hillary Clinton in the bid for the nomination to be the Democrat candidate — in direct violation of the DNC charter, which requires that it remain neutral during the primary cycle. Undermining the Sanders campaign — which was seen as a viable threat to the Clinton campaign — seems to have been a priority of the leadership of a party that claims to be “democratic.”
WikiLeaks released the e-mails late last week — just ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which began Monday — and the fallout was immediate. Wasserman Schultz, who represents Florida’s 20th Congressional District and was elected to the DNC chair in 2011 — resigned as DNC chair over the weekend amid the kerfuffle. Supporters of Bernie Sanders launched a social media campaign — under the hashtag #BernieMustDisavow — in an effort to convince the embattled socialist candidate to rescind his endorsement of Clinton, who those supporters say “stole the nomination.” Clinton’s campaign wasted no time denying any knowledge of any improprieties within the party to guarantee her the nomination.
It’s almost enough to make the Republican convention look normal. Almost.
The most damning of the DNC e-mails shows a clear pattern demonstrating efforts to hurt the Sanders campaign even as he was continuing to gain steam in the primaries:
• One e-mail thread shows the degree to which DNC leadership suffers from a very real detachment from reality. The e-mail — dated May 6 and written by DNC press assistant Rachel Palermo — discusses the media accusation that Clinton was the nominee-assumptive, pre-chosen by party leaders. The e-mail referred to such stories as “#bernieclickbait.”
• An earlier e-mail lays out plans for a series of e-mail announcements to supporters and donors. The e-mail announcements — to be sent and signed by Wasserman Schultz — assume that Sanders will have suspended his campaign and that Clinton will be the nominee. The DNC internal e-mail discussing those plans is dated April 26 at which time Sanders was still actively campaigning and Clinton had not yet secured the nomination.
• An e-mail thread from May 21 details a plan to discredit Sanders by putting forth a “good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.” That plan was quashed in a reply lamenting that though it would be a good plan, “the Chair has been advised to not engage,” adding, “So we'll have to leave it alone.”
• Ahead of the Rhode Island primary, staffers discussed strategies to “get out in front of this one with an inquiry to the RI Gov, even though she’s one of ours.” The e-mail also said that if Clinton were able to come out on top in that primary, “the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct,” adding, “They’ll probably complain regardless, actually.”
• The e-mail that has gained the most attention from the mainstream media, though, is dated May 5. That e-mail — written by staffer Brad Marshall — suggests that a reporter in either Kentucky or West Virginia be recruited to ask Sanders about his religious beliefs. The e-mail — under the subject “No sh*t,” said:
It might may [sic] 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.
Marshal also added, “It’s these [sic] Jesus thing.” Amy K. Dacey, CEO of the DNC replied, “Amen.”
Sanders has subsequently denied that he is an atheist and the ask-his-belief e-mail has caused a stir with DNC leaders being accused of anti-Semitism. While it could be interpreted that way, it is worth noting two points. (1) One can be Jewish by birth without practicing the Jewish religion; conversely, one can convert to Judaism and practice the religion without having been born a Jew. In other words, the words “Jewish” and “Jew” require context to determine whether what is being discussed is either racial or religious. (2) It is obvious from the context that what is being discussed in the e-mail is the Jewish religion. It is not likely anti-Semitic to say that a man of “Jewish heritage” is not practicing his religion.
The anti-Semitic angle has drawn attention away from other points about the e-mail that are more germane to the point: Those in leadership positions within the DNC — all the way to the top of the food chain — are not above using religion (referring to this as a “Jesus” thing and using Sanders’ lack of observance as an opportunity to besmirch his image) to their own ends, while working in cahoots with reporters who would be willing to do the DNC’s bidding and ask Sanders a question designed to embarrass him for Clinton’s benefit.
Considering the clear pattern of preference given to the Clinton campaign evidenced in the e-mails, there is little doubt that the fallout has only begun for the DNC; Wasserman Schultz may have been the first casualty of this scandal, but she will not likely be the last.
In an effort to stave off the fallout and dodge blame, both the DNC and the Clinton campaign have attempted to lay the leaked e-mails at the feet of Putin, saying that state-sponsored hackers passed the e-mails to WikiLeaks, which they accuse of acting as an arm of Moscow in an attempt to throw the election to Trump. In the absence of any evidence to support that assertion, it is worth noting that even if it were true, it would be beside the point. The point is that the DNC violated its own charter and conspired to assure Clinton the nomination by manipulating the primary process.
As for the nominee, Hillary Clinton is such a close comrade of scandal that she almost assuredly feels right at home. As The New American continues to pore over the leaked e-mails, we will continue to report on our findings.