There are three key findings to emerge from yesterday's dump of leaked DNC emails released by Wikileaks:
- There had been a plot designed to smear Bernie Sanders and to hand the Democratic nomination to Hillary on a silver platter
- There has been repeated collusion between the DNC and the media
- There has been questionable fundraising for both Hillary Clinton and the DNC
First, a quick recap for those who missed the original report, yesterday Wikileaks released over 19,000 emails and more than 8,000 attachments from the Democratic National Committee. This is what the whistleblower organization reported:
WikiLeaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee -- part one of our new Hillary Leaks series. The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finanace Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails cover the period from January last year until 25 May this year.d
Subsequently, the Romanian hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 (who has denied he works with the Russian government), who has already released hundreds of hacked DNC emails previously, told The Hill he leaked the documents to Wikileaks.
An initial read of the thousands of emails in the data dump reveals top officials at the Democratic National Committee privately plotting to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, confirming a long-running allegation by the Sanders campaign who has claimed that the DNC and Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had tipped the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during the party’s presidential primary. They also reveal instances of media collusion as well as various questionable instances of fundraising.
Plotting Against Bernie Sanders
In an email from early May, DNC CFO Brad Marshall wrote about a plot to question Sanders’s religion. While not naming the Vermont senator directly, it talks about a man of “Jewish heritage” Marshall believes to be an atheist. It makes reference to voters in Kentucky and West Virginia, two states that were holding upcoming primary elections.
“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,” the email says.
“AMEN,” DNC Chief Executive Officer Amy K. Dacey replied.
Marshall did not respond to a request for comment. But he did tell The Intercept, which first noticed the email, “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate."
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In an email that concerned Sanders out-polling Clinton in Rhode Island, where the state reportedly only had a fraction of voting stations open, one staffer took a contemptuous tone of Sanders’ supporters, speaking about them more as a nuisance than an arm of the party. “If she outperforms this polling, the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct,” the staffer writes, “They’ll probably complain regardless, actually.”
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Another email shows similar 'us and them' language being directed at Sanders supporters. “We have the Sanders folks admitting that they lost fair and square, not because we 'rigged' anything,” the email said. “Clinton likely to win the state convention with a slim margin and we'll send a release with final delegate numbers.”
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An email titled 'Bernie narrative' sent by DNC National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach to Miranda indicates that top officials in the party were trying to find an angle to disparage the Vermont senator in the media.
“Wondering if there's a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in the May 21 message. “Specifically, [Debbie Wasserman Schultz] had to call Bernie directly in order to get the campaign to do things because they'd either ignored or forgotten to something critical.”
“It's not a DNC conspiracy, it's because they never had their act together,” Paustenbach suggested.
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Wasserman Schultz seemed to have already counted Sanders out of the race in a May 21 email, when there were still nine primaries to go. “This is a silly story,” the chairwoman said. “He isn't going to be president.”
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In another email, Paustenbach informed her that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the candidate should continue to the convention, Wasserman Shultz said: “He is an ASS,” referring to Weaver. The chairwoman made her opinion clear about Sanders in an message concerning the candidate alleging that the party hadn’t been fair to him.
“Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do,” she said.
Collusion with Clinton and the media
A communication from late May laid out the pros and cons of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accepting an invitation to CBS’s 'Face the Nation', and indicated that the DNC was plotting its moves based on what would be amenable to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“Clinton campaign is a mess, they’re afraid of their own shadow and didn’t like that we engaged,” DNC communications director Luis Miranda wrote. “But they’ll be unhappy regardless, so better to get out there and do some strong pivots and land good punches on Trump. They can’t tell us NOT to do TV right now, we shouldn’t pull ourselves out until they actually do.”
“It’s clear that Bernie messed up and that we’re on the right side of history,” Miranda wrote in another bullet point, referring to the Nevada convention.
“Let's take this offline,” Wasserman Schultz said in response. “I basically agree with you."
Wasserman Schultz and Miranda brainstormed ideas to attack Sanders’ position on the Israel/Palestine conflict with her communications team in one thread, with Wasserman Schultz saying that "the Israel stuff is disturbing” in reference to Sanders’ platform committee appointees attempts to include language denouncing the occupation of Palestinian territory in the Democratic platform.
The chairwoman says that the idea “HFA,” or Hillary For America, originally proposed the idea of using Israel/Palestine as “an ideal issue to marginalize Sanders on,” suggesting that the DNC were exchanging communications about anti-Sanders strategies with the Clinton campaign.
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The DNC also made a secret “agreement” with Kenneth Vogel, an influential report for Politico. An email from late April with the subject line "per agreement... any thoughts appreciated" shows that Vogel sent an advanced copy of a story about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising to the DNC even before his editor even saw it.
“Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn't share it,” DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach wrote to Miranda. “Let me know if you see anything that's missing and I'll push back.”
The published version of the story did not appear to have any significant edits from and was not favorable to the Clinton campaign, but the sending of a full, advanced copy to the subject of a story is considered to be a violation of journalistic ethics.
A source with familiar with the interaction between Politico and the DNC told RT America that the message was sent to officials to ensure accuracy in the story, and that it would have been difficult to ask for piecemeal clarifications due to its complexity. The “agreement,” in fact, referred to the DNC promising not to pass the story to a more favorable news outlet who might publish before Politco.
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Another email released in the Friday leak indicates that the DNC was in close contact with news websites on articles related to the Democratic Party. A Real Clear Politics article said that Sanders supporters were causing a lack of unity at the Nevada Democratic Convention.
“This headline needs to be changed,” Wasserman Schultz wrote to Miranda.
“We need to push back... Patrice, what happened, DNC had nothing to do with this, right?” Miranda replied, referring to DNC Director of Party Affairs Patrice Taylor. Taylor responded saying that the article should be changed the event was run by the state party and the disorder “sounds like internal issues amount [sic] Sanders supporters.”
“Walter, please connect with Stewart and get him to push back,” Miranda wrote. The last email on the thread says: “Done. Article has been updated.”
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Further evidence of the DNC's extensive "content control" over mass media was revealed when Wasserman Schultz sent an email to NBC anchor Chuck Todd with the subject line "Chuck, this must stop," and set up a time for the two to talk about MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski calling on Wasserman Schultz to step down.
In another email chain, Miranda said Brzezinski was willing to talk with Wasserman Schultz. "She's already served as a judge and jury without even bothering to talk to me. Not sure why I should trust having a conversation with her would make any difference. Or that she even matters, to be frank," Wasserman Schultz wrote back after a brief exchange.
In response to a New York Times story about Sanders's defiance in the wake May's unruly Democratic state convention in Nevada, Wasserman Schultz wrote: "Every time they get caught doing something wrong, they use the tactic of blaming me. Not working this time."
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To be sure, there has been a long trail of instances that confirmed Wasserman Schultz's clear and repeated bias, as noted most recently in "DNC Head Threatened To Kick Michigan Mayor Out Of Debate For Cheering Bernie Sanders", however this is the first time primary sourced evidence has justified such allegations.
There seems to be clear bias in the aggregate as well. Searches of the database shows an apparent bias by DNC officials against Sanders just by how closely either campaign was monitored. A search of “Sanders supporters” yields 306 messages, while a search of “Clinton supporters” shows only 65 results. A search of “his campaign” yields 780 messages, while “her campaign” only brings up a paltry 120 results.
According to the Daily Beast, the DNC blocked Roy Black from hosting a potential Barack Obama fundraising event. Black is the lawyer of billionaire and level-three sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, after reports on Epstein’s trial from The Daily Beast and other outlets. The email states the DNC would still allow Black to donate and attend future events.
In an email thread from May 12th of this year, titled “Host for POTUS in Miami,” DNC finance assistant Karina Marquez originally asked the committee’s vetting team to “vet the following folks for POTUS please.” The list of six possible hosts for the event included Black and his wife Lea, who is a star on Real Housewives of Miami.
“We were also asked to vet the following for POTUS hosting. The only issue is Roy Black,” DNC Deputy Compliance Officer Kevin Snowden wrote back. “New issues have come up since his last vet in February 2016.”
In a third email, DNC deputy finance director Laura Lopez clarified: “Roy Black has been submitted to potentially attend meetings with (Jim) Messina—there isn’t an event code yet. He and his wife co-hosted a fundraiser for POTUS in 2007, all the stories are new since then.” Messina is the CEO of the Messina Group political strategy firm and led President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.
“All the stories” refer to, in part, a 2011 Daily Beast investigation called “Behind Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s Sweetheart Deal” which was cited in a follow-up story in the New York Daily News, and other articles that are later embedded into the email thread. To close off the chain, White House political advisor Bobby Schmuck responded that he agreed with DNC compliance director Alan Reed. “No hosting, fine to attend,” he wrote.
President Obama attended a Miami fundraiser at the home of Robert Rubenstein, one of the five other names listed in the vetting email, on the weekend of June 3rd, and Black was allowed to attend.
Black’s client Epstein was convicted of soliciting sex from an underage girl in 2008 and paid out settlements to “scores of alleged victims who said he serially molested them." President Bill Clinton was said to have flown on Epstein’s private jet, dubbed the “Lolita Express,” up to 26 times, sometimes eschewing Secret Service protection.
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There were further revelations.
An internal email from DNC spokesman Eric Walker mocked a Buzzfeed news report analyzing the DNC and the Republican National Committee’s potentially weak cybersecurity.
Another email shows DNC staffers’ fake craigslist job posting made for women who wish to apply to jobs at one of Trump’s organizations. The fake position, titled a Honey Bunny, requires the prospective applicant to, among other tasks, refrain from gaining weight, be open to public humiliation and be alright with groping or kissing by her boss.
Another email between DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan and DNC’s Northern California finance director Erik Stowe has Kaplan coarsely describing a conference call with President Barack Obama on National Small Business Week as related to “small business sh*t.”
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With the leaks coming just days before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia it may reignite controversy over the DNC's handling of Sanders as well as media "objectivity" and Democrat fundraising, three of the most sensitive issue plaguing the Democratic party, and could potentially lead to an exodus of disappointed Bernie supporters into Trump's camp.