Democratic National Committee Interim Chair Donna Brazile (AP/Paul Sancya)

Donna Brazile apologizes for passing debate questions during Clinton-Sanders primary battles

Brazile calls it "a mistake I will forever regret"


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Matthew Sheffield
March 20, 2017 9:07PM (UTC)

Former interim Democratic National Committee chair and CNN political commentator Donna Brazile has apologized for passing along debate questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign during last year's contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"[A]mong the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and DNC vice chair prior to assuming the interim DNC chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign," Brazile wrote in an essay published on Friday by Time.

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Brazile strongly denied she had cheated for some time after WikiLeaks provided documents in October that showed that she had emailed Clinton officials several times to inform them of questions that would be asked at debates featuring Clinton and her then-rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The emails provided by WikiLeaks included a unique digital identifier from the DNC server that could be used to check their authenticity. Several news outlets, including Salon, verified their authenticity.

Brazile's delayed apology and admission stand in stark contrast to her past comments when she had repeatedly lied, once even cloaking her deception in religious terms.

“I did not receive any questions from CNN,” she said in a Fox News interview last October. “As a Christian woman I understand persecution, but I will not stand here and be persecuted because your information is totally false."

In the Fox interview, Brazile continued her rant, comparing then-anchor Megyn Kelly to a criminal: "Podesta’s emails were stolen. You’re so interested in talking about stolen material; you’re like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that you found that [were] in the gutter.”

One month later, Brazile admitted in a radio interview that she had passed along the questions but said, “My conscience — as an activist, a strategist — is very clear.” In that discussion, she also made a vague claim that hacked DNC messages had been "altered" but provided no evidence for the assertion. She refused to apologize for her actions.

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Now that she has been replaced as the DNC chair, however, Brazile is claiming that passing the questions to the Clinton campaign was "a mistake I will forever regret."

Despite her partial contrition, however, Brazile framed her admission in the Time essay with blaming the government of Russia for Donald Trump's victory in the general election.

"By stealing all the DNC’s emails and then selectively releasing those few, the Russians made it look like I was in the tank for Secretary Clinton," Brazile wrote.

"Despite the strong, public support I received from top Sanders campaign aides in the wake of those leaks, the media narrative played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks," she added.

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Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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