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Doubling Down on Denial: the Delusions of Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Disgraced former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz still refuses to admit any wrongdoing on her part as DNC Chair during the Democratic Primaries, despite her resignation in the wake of emails released by Wikileaks proving she did.

“I will be frank with you — if I was trying to rig the outcome of the primary, trust me, I could have,” Wasserman Schultz told VICE News’ Shawna Thomas.

She claimed it was “mind-boggling” for her as to why Bernie Sanders and his supporters complained about the debate schedule during the primaries. But an email released by Wikileaks from Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta confirmed the DNC coordinated the debate schedule to maximize the benefit it yielded to the Clinton Campaign. After only six were scheduled, Sanders’ Supporters helped push the DNC and Clinton to add 3 more, but the Clinton Campaign refused to participate in a debate before the California Democratic Primary. In the 2008 Democratic Primaries, Obama and Clinton participated in 26 debates. Wasserman Schultz defended her debate schedule and claimed it was designed to maximize exposure for candidates, but Politifact rated her claim false, based on testimonies from five political science and communication professors.

In October 2015, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) publicly called for more debates to be added to the primary debate schedule while serving as one of five DNC Vice Chairs. As a result of her dissent, the DNC disinvited her from attending the first Democratic Primary debate. “It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” Gabbard told the New York Times. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.” Gabbard would later formally resign from her position as a DNC Vice Chair after the South Carolina Democratic Primary in February 2016 to join the Bernie Sanders Campaign as a surrogate.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz served as Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Co-Chair in 2008. Two days before Hillary Clinton formally announced her presidential campaign, Wasserman Schultz told the Sun-Sentinel, “Secretary Clinton, I think is arguably one of the most qualified people—assuming she announces her candidacy—who have ever run for president. I was proud to support her in 2008. Of course, as DNC chair, I will neutrally manage our primary nomination contest, assuming we have one.” This response, in which Wasserman Schultz fails miserably to contain her excitement for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, foreshadowed the overt favoritism she exercised for Clinton throughout the closely contested Democratic Primaries.

As head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz violated the neutrality demanded by the DNC Charter, and fostered an environment that functioned as an arm of the Clinton Campaign rather than an impartial entity meant to promote and ensure democracy in the primaries.

To help tip the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton even further, Wasserman Schultz quietly rescinding a ban on donations from lobbyists and political action committees initially enacted by President Obama in 2008. The decision was an invite for corporate and wealthy influences to take over the Democratic Party and help Hillary Clinton get elected, as Bernie Sanders’ refusal to take any money from lobbyists or Super-Pacs was a staple of his campaign. This rule change gave Clinton an advantage over Sanders, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz enacted the rule change knowing it would only benefit Hillary Clinton.

Wasserman Schultz was a divisive figure throughout the Democratic Primaries, but Clinton was intent on rewarding her loyalty to the Clinton Campaign. Bernie Sanders eventually called for Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation towards the end of the primaries, but negotiations to replace her failed to gain momentum then. CNN cited sources told them negotiations for replacing her as DNC Chair fell through as the Clinton Campaign didn’t want to cause a distraction. They also likely didn’t want to corroborate suspicions from Sanders supporters that Wasserman Schultz was a Clinton loyalist sitting in a position which demanded neutrality.

In June 2016, the Clinton Campaign appointed Brandon Davis, the national political director for the SEIU, as the general election chief of staff for the Democratic Party. Similar appointments are standard after primaries, but the move initially proved beneficial to both the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as it shielded her from exposure and freed her to focus on her re-election campaign while she still held the title as DNC Chair. Until the fallout from the Wikileaks release of DNC e-mails, Wasserman Schultz’s job as DNC Chair was safe. Even in the wake of negative publicity from Wikileaks, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned only to be immediately hired by the Clinton Campaign as honorary chair to Clinton’s 50-state campaign program. In lieu of punishment for overtly violating the DNC Charter, Hillary Clinton rewarded Wasserman Schultz for her assistance in helping defeat Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

During a follow up interview with the Miami Herald after her resignation, Wasserman Schultz had a Freudian slip, stumbling in defending her role as DNC Chair; “”I’m very proud of the primary nominating contest that we won – that we ran.”

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Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1

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