Donna Brazile said Sunday that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) probably didn't mean to agree with the premise that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged for Hillary Clinton, but Brazile made that charge in her own book that has set off a firestorm in the Democratic Party.
The former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee has a new book out Tuesday entitled Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. In a bombshell excerpt released this week, Brazile wrote she had found "solid proof" as she sought to "get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process."
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CNN's Jake Tapper asked Warren directly on Friday if she agreed with the notion that the primary was rigged, and she said "yes," and she said on PBS "the process was rigged."
But in her interview on Sunday, Brazile balked at the word she used in her own book.
"Do you agree with Elizabeth Warren that the primaries were rigged?" host George Stephanopoulos asked Brazile.
"I don't think she meant the word ‘rigged,'" Brazile said.
Brazile then described making a call to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) after she made sure there was "no rigging of the process."
"I found no evidence. None whatsoever," Brazile added. "The only thing I found … was this memorandum that prevented the DNC from running its own operations."
This appears to conflict directly with what Brazile describes in her book as the "solid proof" of the nomination process being rigged for Clinton.
It came in the form of a joint fundraising agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America, in which she wrote, "in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings."
It was signed in the summer of 2015, well before a single primary vote had been cast. She wrote a cash-strapped DNC that had been mismanaged by Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the agreement:
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.
In her book, Brazile writes she was in agony over calling Sanders to inform him of the secret agreement, and she wept angrily afterward.
ABC News reported that the fundraising agreement between the Sanders campaign and the DNC "does not include any language about coordinating on strategic decisions over hiring or budget, unlike a fundraising memo between the Hillary Clinton team and the DNC."
Brazile's account appeared to confirm what Sanders supporters had alleged before: the fix was in from the start for Clinton. Hacked DNC emails had already shown clear preference by Schultz and other higher-ups for Clinton, leading to Schultz's resignation and Brazile's ascendance last summer.
Former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said "anybody who suggests we were being treated the same way is playing semantic games."
"We had no addendum like this, no memorandum, no agreement like this," said Mark Longabaugh, the Sanders campaign's chief liaison to the DNC. "They basically came to us and said, here's the agreement, take it or leave it."