Over a year after the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Donna Brazile is calling Hillary Clinton's nomination into question. Brazile, the interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee at the time, claims in an excerpt from her upcoming book published by Politico Thursday that Clinton's campaign "rigged" the 2016 primary against Bernie Sanders, her Democratic opponent. When Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian hackers suggested exactly that, Brazile says she promised Sanders she'd look into it at the time. Now she's publicly claiming it's true.
Generally, the Democratic presidential nominee takes some control of the party once they're nominated, but Brazile claims Clinton was in control long before she became the first female nominee of a major party. According to Brazile, she discovered in her investigation that the DNC was millions of dollars in debt. The Clinton campaign and the Hillary Victory Fund (a joint fundraising committee with the DNC) dealt with 80 percent of the party's debt in 2016, which Brazile claims Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the previous DNC chair, hid from DNC officers.
A fundraising agreement was signed by the DNC, Hillary for America, and the Hillary Victory Fund that allegedly gave Clinton financial and strategical control of the DNC in exchange for helping fund the party. By Brazile's account, this agreement was signed in August 2015:
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.
Twitter was shocked by the news, as well as its delivery.
Not only did Brazile claim she suspected unethical behavior "the moment [she] walked in the door of the DNC," she also described how upset she was to discover that Clinton allegedly "rigged" the 2016 primary.
"By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart," she wrote.
Brazile told Sanders about the fundraising agreement she believes gave Clinton control of the DNC long before she was the party's nominee, writing that he took it "stoically."
"He did not yell or express outrage," she wrote. "Instead he asked me what I thought Hillary's chances were."
Brazile wrote that she urged Sanders to "bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary," despite the fact that she'd just told him she believed Clinton maneuvered the DNC against him. She added:
When I hung up the call to Bernie, I started to cry, not out of guilt, but out of anger. We would go forward. We had to.
And while some praised Brazile's courage for coming forward about what she uncovered, others thought the timing was suspicious.
Regardless of the timing or motive, Brazile's claims suggest pervasive corruption within the Democratic Party, as well as troubling financial problems caused by Wasserman Schultz's mismanagement and President Obama's 2012 campaign. The debt not only led to the allegedly "rigged" primary, but could also put the party's future in jeopardy. It was only saved in 2016 through money from the Clinton campaign, Brazile claims, so continued mismanagement could only either lead to future unethical behavior or financial ruin. Wrote Brazile:
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.
Clinton has not responded to Brazile's allegations. However, the Nov. 7 release of the former interim DNC chair's book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, will likely contain even more bombshells.