Donna Brazile Plays Dumb on Town Hall Controversy
DNC chair claims 'persecution' when pressed on collusion with Clinton camp at CNN
Looking and sounding dazed and confused, Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, pretended to have no knowledge of a controversy that threatens to end her brief tenure at the top of the DNC.
Brazile, a former CNN contributor, was confronted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Wednesday night after the final presidential debate in Las Vegas.
“As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted.”
Brazile was asked if she leaked a question to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign before CNN’s town hall in Ohio on March 13. If Brazile had done that, it would violate CNN’s ethics rules. It would also show the DNC chair favored Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders of Vermont, while professing to be a neutral player.
When confronted by Kelly, Brazile began stuttering.
“I did not receive any questions from CNN,” said Brazile.
"Where did you get it?" said Kelly. Kelly was trying to pin Brazile, because CNN officials believe Roland Martin of TV One, a CNN debate partner, leaked the debate question to Brazile.
The Brazile allegation was unearthed by WikiLeaks earlier this month, when Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta's emails were initially leaked to the public. In an email on March 12, 2016, to Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, Brazile said, "From time to time, I get the questions in advance."
Brazile included the question: "Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. Thirty-one states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That's 11 percent of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?"
According to Politico, at the March 13 CNN town hall in Ohio, Clinton was asked an almost identical question about the death penalty.
The Podesta emails have steadily humiliated the Clinton campaign. But Brazile, even after knowing the press would likely ask her about the CNN email, seemed wholly unprepared to address the controversy.
Brazile played dumb when it became clear Kelly would press on.
"What information are you providing to me that will allow me to see what you are talking about?" Brazile asked.
Kelly explained the issue, which has generated substantial national news coverage, in detail. Brazile then claimed persecution.
"As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted," said Brazile. "Your information is totally false."
"I'm getting it from Podesta's emails," said Kelly.
"Podesta's emails were stolen," said Brazile. "You're like a thief that wants to bring into the night the things that you found in the gutter."
Kelly then quoted CNN's Jake Tapper, who said Brazile may have gotten the leaked question from Roland Martin or someone around Martin. Tapper has expressed his horror that a debate question was leaked to Clinton.
Brazile then said she would not validate "falsified" information.
"Thank God I have not had my personal emails ripped off from me and stolen," said Brazile. "I never gave documents from CNN."
Brazile did not deny she got the question from Roland Martin. But by the end of the interview, Brazile was repeating her claim she did not get the question "from CNN" and she again questioned the validity of Podesta's emails — emails that Hillary Clinton declined to discuss during the debate.