A WikiLeaks release of nearly 20,000 emails from top Democratic National Committee staffers is sparking controversy just days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia.
This is a silly story. He isn’t going to be president.
On Friday evening, WikiLeaks shared the first part of its “Hillary Leaks series” on its website, lumping internal staff emails and media releases sent to the DNC together in a searchable database. So far, journalists have excavated a few red flags indicating the DNC’s long-standing allegiance with the Hillary Clinton campaign — and intent to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
In one email, after committee communications director Luis Miranda asks DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz if she wants to comment on a CNN story about Sanders’ promise to fire her if he’s elected, she brushes aside the need to respond to Sanders.
“This is a silly story. He isn’t going to be president,” writes Wasserman Schultz from her personal gmail account.
In a May email, DNC committee communications staffer Mark Paustenbach suggests pitching a story angle to reporters that shines a negative light on Sanders.
“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,” Paustenbach writes. “It’s not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together.”
One email in particular appears to suggest an unidentified candidate should be questioned about his religious beliefs.
“For KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,” writes DNC’s CFO, Brad Marshall in an email titled “Re: No shit.” He goes on: “I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”
In an email response to the Intercept, Marshall denied this was a reference to Sanders. “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate,” he wrote.
Aside from Marshall, DNC officials have yet to comment on the leak. It’s unknown what kind of implications they’ll have on next week’s convention, where the committee is expected to nominate Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was quick to push back on Saturday, calling the findings “really vicious” and “rigged” on Twitter.
WikiLeaks said this is “part one” of a email dump, but didn’t indicate a following release date.
A hacker with the handle “Guccifer 2.0” says that he was the one who leaked the documents. This dump comes exactly a month after Guccifer 2.0 released another trove of emails pulled from the DNC servers, which included some donor information and the Clinton campaign’s opposition research on Trump. After that release, Trump claimed the DNC masterminded the hack itself.