Donna Brazile called Sen. Bernie Sanders in September 2016 in her capacity as interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She had some bad news for him, although we use the word "news" loosely here, for what she told him had been obvious for a long time; the presidential primary had been rigged against him to help Hillary Clinton win.
What was new, was that there was not just an informal collusion between those who ran the party, but a formal cash-for-power agreement that made the DNC a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clinton’s presidential campaign.
After the call, Brazile started to cry, out of anger, she says, at what the DNC had done. Nevertheless, she vowed to fight for Clinton, thinking, “We would go forward. We had to.”
One assumes that if Clinton had not gone down in flames and had instead won the White House, Brazile would not have come forward with a bombshell about corruption at the DNC. So why is Brazile now attacking Clinton? Is it just kicking her while she is down? That seems unlikely. Much more plausible is that Brazile is again doing her bit for the party and, a year before presidential wannabes start emerging from the shadows, is trying to make sure Hillary never tries a comeback, never again runs for president.
Here's how Brazile describes the agreement between Clinton and the DNC, which was signed in August 2015, 10 months before Clinton won the primary:
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.
Gary Gensler, CFO of the Clinton campaign, described the DNC as “fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign.” This is all in black and white in a formal contract signed by Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, Amy Dacey, who was then chief executive of the DNC, and Marc Elias, general counsel for Clinton’s campaign. (Elias's client list also includes the DNC, by the way).
To be fair to the DNC, it didn't enter this agreement simply because it thought Clinton a preferable candidate, although that was part of it. No, the committee was bust. It had no money for the campaign. It was on the brink of collapse. So it was vulnerable to a hostile takeover. Clinton could make it an offer it couldn't refuse.
For this, the party can thank former President Barack Obama. Brazile writes, “Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt” to the tune of $24 million. Gensler told Brazile, “The campaign had to do it or the party would collapse.” It's worth noting, therefore, that Obama not only wrecked the party across the country by helping it lose about 1,000 legislative seats at the state level but also left it financially crippled.
Almost no one knew about the debt, not even senior officers of the party, Brazile included. When she found out, she screamed, “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.” The whole thing was a big lie, which makes it entirely predictable that it was presided over by Clinton, who lies even when she says "but" and "and," as the saying goes.
Brazile's expose is a deliberate blow by the party to smash the Clinton machine. She knows, as all senior party officials know, that the Democrats must rid itself of the odious Clinton clan if it hopes for political victory again.
Hillary Clinton has wielded power in the party as ruthlessly as her pal Harvey Weinstein wielded it in Hollywood. No one dared to cross her, as no one dared to cross him. Until a moment came when someone did, smashing the dam that had held back the loathing and burning desire for revenge. And then came the deluge. No one in the Democratic Party wanted to cross the Clintons until they didn’t matter anymore. Exposing Clinton's dirty deal with the DNC is intended to make sure she never works in this town again. It doesn't pass even the weakest of ethical smell tests. Brazile knew it and knew it would hurt Clinton’s chances if it went public.
Despite her teary story, Brazile was part of the charade. She leaked questions from CNN to the Clinton campaign. As a party officer, she could have tried to hold the DNC accountable before it got so bad. But she admits that, after speaking with Sanders, she didn’t even feel guilty.
For the Democratic Party to advance, it needs to engage in self-reflection. Why was one person able to gain so much power and influence in the party that such an obviously corrupt agreement was swept under the rug? The unwillingness to cross the Clintons gave us President Trump. The party must keep its infrastructure from being captured in the future. Our politics will be healthier for it.