If anything, the Donald Trump phenomenon has shown Americans want to be entertained this campaign season. Not to disappoint, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Wikileaks released 19,252 emails from leaders in the Democratic National Committee. It was advertised as “part one of our new Hillary Leaks series.” The communications came from Communications Director Luis Miranda, National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan, Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer, Finance Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish, Finance Director Allen Zachary, Senior Advisor Andrew Wright, and Northern California Finance Director Robert Stowe.
The emails released have a common thread of showing that the DNC, in violation of rules of conduct requiring impartiality, was colluding with the Clinton campaign to defeat contender Bernie Sanders. Many have subtle undertones that might only offend the hypersensitive looking to start something. Some of the worst have Sanders supporters threatening even bigger protests than were originally planned for the Democrat’s convention in Philadelphia. This adds fuel to the fire of Sanders’ allegations that the system was rigged.
A number of emails show the party controlling media content. One thread discussed the strategic advantages to the Clinton campaign of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz appearing on Face the Nation. “Let’s take this offline,” wrote Wasserman-Schultz. Kenneth Vogel of Politico ran a story, with the subject line, “per agreement … any thought appreciated,” by the DNC for approval before he submitted it for publication. Emails about another article show Wasserman-Schultz and others successfully “pushed back” and “updated” coverage of a lack of unity in Nevada. In another, Wasserman-Schultz wrote NBC anchor Chuck Todd, to say Morning Joe cohost Mika Brzezinski’s anti-Wasserman-Schultz commentary “must stop.”
Yet another thread celebrated the New York Times backpedaling on what it was going to print about the Joint Victory Fund. The implications would have been that Sanders should have clout in shaping the party’s agendas following the primaries. “Overall I think it’s as good as we could hope for. We were able to keep him from including more on the JVF, it has a mention in there, but between us and a conversation he had with Marc Elias he finally backed off from focusing too much on that.” Another obtusely references what may have been a joint fundraiser hosted by the DNC and the Washington Post.
Back to the suppressed mayhem in Nevada, Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, criticized the state party for allegedly allowing Clinton supporters to subvert party rules. Sanders’ people fought back by shouting down her supporters as they tried to speak and emailing threats to Nevada chair Roberta Lange. After Weaver complained on CNN that the Nevada party had excluded Sanders’ supporters, Wasserman-Schultz wrote, “[Expletive deleted] liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.” In another email, Wasserman-Schultz ridiculed Weaver for saying, “I think we should go to the convention,” with, “He is an [EXPLETIVE DELETED].”
Another group of emails discuss shaping the narrative. In one, DNC CFO Brad Marshall suggested playing up a characterization of Sanders as atheist to “my Southern Baptist peeps” in Kentucky and Washington. Sanders’ exact words were that, while grateful for his strong Jewish heritage, he’s “not actively involved in organized religion.”
More potential for defining Sanders came in an email Miranda received complaining about Sanders’ campaign’s habit of not paying attention to deadlines. “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.” As early as April, DNC affiliate Eric Reif sent Wasserman-Schultz copy for Sanders’ exit narrative. “We are starting to plan ahead with messaging to our supporters for the end of the primary and transition to the general. Below are a handful of emails and graphic copy for the initial few days of that change, …”
A common theme is, just as everybody knew during the primary season whom “her” and “him” referenced; the emails refer to “us” and “them,” respectively, as if understood. For example, one missive to party leaders expresses concerns about Sanders leading Clinton in Rhode Island polling. It was feared, because the state was not opening all its precincts for the primary elections, that, if Clinton were to win, “the Bernie camp will go nuts and allege misconduct.” The emailer continued, “We might want to get out in front of this one with an inquiry to the RI Gov, even though she’s one of ours.”
Then there were some curious emails about fundraising. Marc E. Elias, legal counsel for the DNC, suggested how to handle Sanders’ claim that the Clinton campaign wasn’t giving state parties their fair share of funds raised. “The fact that CNN notes that you aren’t getting between the two campaigns is the problem. Here, Sanders is attacking the DNC and its current practice, its past practice with the POTUS and with Sec Kerry. Just as the RNC pushes back directly on Trump over ‘rigged system,’ the DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful to the Democratic Party.”
Another email lists checks “made out to the DNC that should be counted towards the convention.” The DNC’s National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan replied, “Don’t send me an email like this again. You know Alex. Don’t be a [expletive deleted].” The underling replied, “Sorry. I will handle better.”
Another thread discusses how to bar Sanders supporter and DNC donor Amanda Kruel from a fundraiser after “throwing shade” on Wasserman-Schultz in Twitter posts. They suggested refunding her $50 ticket, but when she bought another one, they suggested collecting phones so she couldn’t “film and post any stunts they try to pull.”
Among countless other emails are coaching that says the server issue had nothing to do with Clinton and that the Benghazi investigation was a waste of taxpayer dollars. In another one, Wasserman-Schultz describes Bernie’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as “an ideal issue to marginalize Sanders on.” Perhaps the silliest exposes a fake Craigslist ad, supposedly from a Trump company hiring a Honey Bunny who, among other responsibilities, must refrain from gaining weight and be open to public humiliation.