Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I., Vt.) campaign manager accused the Democratic National Committee chairwoman on Wednesday of being divisive and working against Sanders for personal reasons to the benefit of Hillary Clinton.
Jeff Weaver charged that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) is undermining Sanders’ candidacy during an appearance on MSNBC as the Democratic Party has been thrown into turmoil amid increased infighting in the wake of a chaotic Nevada state party convention.
Sanders supporters lashed out at party leadership Saturday during the Nevada Democratic convention, shouting "Bernie or bust" as they yelled curses, made obscene gestures, threw chairs, and issued death threats to Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange and her family because they believe the convention and primary rules are rigged against the Vermont senator.
MSNBC host Steve Kornacki played for Weaver a clip of Schultz from Tuesday night lambasting Sanders’ response to the chaos, in which he condemned all forms of violence but criticized the Democratic Party and suggested their actions helped trigger the backlash, as "unacceptable."
"It’s ridiculous, frankly," Weaver said in response to Schultz’s comments. "The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, it’s been pretty clear almost from the get-go that she has been working against Bernie Sanders. I mean, there’s no doubt about it, for personal reasons."
Weaver cited the DNC’s schedule for primary debates, which placed them on weekend nights at times likely to have few viewers. Some commentators have argued the limited debate schedule was meant to protect Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ opponent, to help her get the party nomination.
Weaver added that Schultz has worked against Sanders in other instances, "whether it was this joint fundraising agreement that [the DNC] has with the Hillary Clinton campaign, which is taking money out of state parties; whether it‘s these standing committees where they have appointed really hostile Hillary Clinton partisans to head these committees at the convention."
"Debbie Wasserman Schultz has really been a divider and not really provided the kind of leadership that the Democratic Party needs going forward," Weaver said.
When Kornacki pushed Weaver on what he means by personal reasons motivating Schultz, the campaign manager said that when one talks to high-ranking officials at the DNC, "I would say there is not unanimity in terms of her topics and her responses throughout this campaign. I mean, if you think back to that issue where they shut off Senator Sanders’ access to his data shortly before the Iowa caucuses. I mean that was a unilateral action taken on her part. Believe me, there was tremendous pressure inside the party structure for her to relent."
Weaver was referring to a dispute that began in December when the DNC temporarily shut off the Sanders campaign’s access to shared voter data. The campaign then opened a lawsuit against the Democratic Party, which was dropped in late April.
"It’s been clear there’s a pattern of conduct from the beginning of this campaign that has been hostile to Bernie Sanders and his supporters, and she’s really become a divisive figure in the party," Weaver said.
The DNC chair has chastised Sanders in the past for criticizing the Democratic primary rules and in April only described the party’s relationship with the Sanders campaign as a "relatively good working relationship."
Many prominent Democrats have called on Sanders to drop out of the race so Clinton can focus solely on Donald Trump in the general election, but Sanders promised his supporters Tuesday night that "we are in until the last ballot is cast."