cache of leaked emails from Democratic Party leaders’ accounts includes
messages suggesting an insider effort to wound the upstart Sanders
campaign that had competed with Clinton. Photo / Bloomberg
Democrats in the United States have been scrambling to contain
damaging revelations of an insider effort to hobble Bernie Sanders’
presidential campaign, with the party boss abruptly announcing her
resignation on the eve of the convention to officially nominate Hillary
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie
Wasserman Schultz said she would step down at the end of the convention,
which opens today.
Thousands of Democratic delegates were
converging on Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love”, to elevate
Clinton as the party’s nominee who will battle Republican Donald Trump
in the November election.
After a hard-fought primary campaign,
the party had been heading to the Democratic National Convention seeming
far more unified than the Republicans, whose fissures were laid bare
last week as they confirmed brash billionaire Trump as their
Now the Democrats are struggling with the fallout from a
scandal that threatened to mushroom into a major crisis just as the
party was supposed to coalesce around its nominee.
A cache of
leaked emails from Democratic Party leaders’ accounts includes messages
suggesting an insider effort to wound the upstart Sanders campaign that
had competed with Clinton – including by seeking to present him as an
atheist in deeply religious states.
Bowing to rapidly building
pressure, Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee’s
embattled chair, announced yesterday she was stepping down at the end of
In a statement, Wasserman Schultz described
Clinton as “a friend I have always believed in and know will be a great
president”. Her announcement came after Sanders yesterday repeated calls
for her to go, with her leadership already under fire and impartiality
called into question by the leaks.
Shortly after she resigned, Sanders said in a
statement that Wasserman Schultz “has made the right decision for the
future of the Democratic Party”.
He called for new leadership
that would “always remain impartial in the presidential nominating
process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race”.
Wasserman Schultz said she would still open and close the convention.
Despite the political chaos swirling, Sanders made clear he would not make an insurgent bid for the nomination.
“We’ve got to elect Secretary Clinton,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Sanders and First Lady Michelle Obama headline day one of the Democratic convention today.
President Bill Clinton is the star tomorrow, while President Barack
Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden take the stage on Thursday.
Sanders has publicly endorsed his former rival, many of his most
fervent supporters have been organising protests in Philadelphia, with
the largest expected today.
Several thousand protesters converged
near Philadelphia’s City Hall yesterday, many of them Sanders backers
and people supporting renewable energy and anti-fracking efforts.
They vented frustration over a “rigged” party system that they said was aimed at ensuring Clinton would become the nominee.
in the Sanders camp have also voiced disappointment with Clinton’s
choice of a centre-left running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, and
the email revelations only fuelled the resentment.
“The emails just proved what we believed to begin with,” Dora Bouboulis of Vermont told AFP as she marched in a demonstration.
pounced on the leaks as he tries to scoop up disaffected voters who
feel Sanders – a self-described democratic socialist initially dismissed
as a fringe candidate – was denied a fair shot at the nomination.
The provocative billionaire piled on after yesterday’s announcement.
“I always said that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was overrated. The Dems convention is cracking up,” he taunted on Twitter.
Clinton’s campaign meanwhile was pushing the notion that Russia was behind the email leaks, in an effort to help Trump win.
are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, took all
these emails, and now are leaking them out through these websites,”
campaign manager Robby Mook told ABC.
“It’s troubling that some
experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the
purpose of helping Donald Trump.”
There was a decidedly
anti-Hillary sentiment among the activists flocking into Philadelphia,
where hundreds of the Sanders supporters gathered near City Hall and
police intensifying security operations.
“Hillary is more of a warmonger than Trump!” yelled one woman as she passed out flyers.
They said what?
The emails suggest Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials
considered raising doubts about Bernie Sanders’ faith, and suggesting he
is an atheist rather than Jewish, apparently in hopes of steering
religious voters in Kentucky and West Virginia to Hillary Clinton. DNC
chief financial officer Brad Marshall wrote: “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.”
• After controversy erupted over the Nevada
state Democratic convention and how fair the process was there, DNC
chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz took exception to Sanders campaign
manager Jeff Weaver’s defence of his candidate’s supporters. “Damn
liar,” she wrote in an email. “Particularly scummy that he barely
acknowledges the violent and threatening behaviour that occurred.”
Wasserman Schultz took offence at an article on Politico about Sanders
saying 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 wrote. 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.
• DNC national press secretary Mark
Paustenbach 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
• The term “Bernie bro” – or “Berniebro”,
depending on your style – became a kind of shorthand for the worst kind
of Sanders supporter. In an email conversation about a request made by
radio show director David Guggenheim for an interview on a Clinton
fundraising controversy, communications director Luis Miranda writes:
“Where is Guggenheim? Is he a Bernie Bro?” Broadcast booker Pablo
Manriquez responds: “Must be a Bernie Bro.”