Friday, 03 November 2017

Former DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile: Clinton Rigged the Nomination

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Donna Brazile — who was fired from CNN in the wake of revelations that she provided debate questions to Hillary Clinton and the DNC ahead of debates — has written a “tell-all” (or more accurately, a “tell-some/spin-all”) book on corruption in the Clinton campaign and DNC during the 2016 election. As part of promoting that book, she had an article published Thursday by Politico. In short, she places the blame squarely on Clinton for stealing the nomination and losing the election.

Brazile’s Politico piece (which is a thinly disguised teaser for her book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, to be released Tuesday) begins with Brazile telling about keeping a promise to Bernie Sanders to “get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested.”

The article asserts that by the time Brazile took over as interim chair of the DNC, the party was in deep financial trouble because of the poor leadership of her predecessor, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and the “neglect” of President Obama.

Brazile’s appointment as interim chair is a perfect case of one scandal (the “resignation” of Wasserman Schultz in the wake of WikiLeaks releasing a trove of Clinton campaign and DNC e-mails showing — among other things — that the DNC had fixed the nomination for Hillary) making a place to sweep aside another scandal (Brazile’s leaking of debate questions — which she was able to access because of her position with CNN — to Clinton and the DNC).

In her assertion that the Blue party was so deep in the red because of mismanagement by Obama and Wasserman Schultz, Brazile recalls a phone call between her and Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of the Clinton campaign. In that call — the Saturday after the DNC convention in July — she says Gensler “wasted no words,” adding, “He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.” Brazile said she told him that she had been told “everything is fine” and the party was “raising money with no problems.” She writes of his response:

That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt — $15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign — and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.

Brazile also writes:

My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.

Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party — she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

Brazile goes on to write of all the calls she placed, visits she made, and digging she did to finally discover that there was a document — the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America — that had been used by Clinton to take over the party almost as soon as she had announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she actually “secured” (read: stole) the nomination. Brazille explains:

When the party chooses the nominee, the custom is that the candidate’s team starts to exercise more control over the party. If the party has an incumbent candidate, as was the case with Clinton in 1996 or Obama in 2012, this kind of arrangement is seamless because the party already is under the control of the president. When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

By controlling the money, Brazile contends, Clinton controlled the party. Manipulating the nomination was the easiest part of it.

Brazile lays out a narrative that casts her in the role of the dogged detective diligently chasing down clue after clue getting to the bottom of the case. Of course, Brazile’s narrative picks up after her CNN firing for providing debate questions to Hillary Clinton and the DNC. In fact, that little tidbit — conspicuously absent from her telling — actually casts Brazile in a different light; instead of the dogged detective, Brazile comes off in that light as more of the guilty accomplice attempting to cast the blame on everyone else in an effort to avoid having it settle on her.

After all, as we reported in November 2016, Brazile was shown (in the same e-mails that she mentions as showing that Clinton and Wasserman Schultz had rigged the nomination process) to have provided debate questions to Clinton before the point in time where she now pretends to have moved heaven and earth to uncover the very corruption of which she was a willing participant. We noted then:

Brazile, a veteran Democratic Party hack, has been serving as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) since July, when then-DNC chair Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign in an e-mail scandal that exposed Wasserman Schultz and other DNC officials blatantly taking sides with Clinton and sabotaging Sanders, in violation of DNC rules to maintain neutrality in primary campaigns.

As the Podesta e-mails reveal, Brazile was involved in those same ethics violations, extending to violating the rules for the televised debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which sponsored the debates, states on its website: “All debates will be moderated by a single individual and will run from 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time without commercial breaks. As always, the moderators alone will select the questions to be asked, which are not known to the CPD or to the candidates.”

However, that obviously was not the case, as Brazile was providing Team Clinton with a heads-up of debate questions in advance. The first Brazile e-mail to leak out concerned the televised CNN-TV One Town Hall event on March 13 of this year. The day before, Brazile sent an e-mail to Clinton’s director of communications, Jennifer Palmieri, saying she’s worried about “HRC” (Hillary Rodham Clinton) facing a question on the death penalty. The subject heading of her e-mail was: “Re: From time to time I get the questions in advance.”

Given that she provided those questions months before “discovering” corruption in the beloved party, her pretended shock isn’t very convincing. After all, she provided those questions before Clinton had been named as the nominee. Brazile’s giving of the questions to Clinton seems to indicate that even she considered Clinton’s nomination to be in the bag.

While Brazile’s account does serve to show that there is hard evidence (Brazile lays it out in clear form) of corruption in both the Clinton campaign and the leadership of the DNC, her account should be taken as what it is: the testimony of a co-conspirator throwing everyone else under the bus to save what is left of her own reputation. Oh, and sell a few books along the way. Brazile’s book already has enough preorders that Amazon has marked it as a #1 Best Seller.

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